Little Bits of History

June 18

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 18, 2017

1972: British European Airways (BEA) Flight 548 goes into a deep stall. BEA was founded in 1948 and flew from the United Kingdom to Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. They were also the largest domestic UK operator with hubs in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Belfast. They were formed after World War II when restrictions on civil flying were lifted. They operated independently until 1974 when they merged with British Overseas Airways Corporation to form British Airways. On this day, the plane was a Hawker Siddeley HS 121 Trident (originally the de Havilland DH 121) which was typically used for short or medium-range flights. It was the first T-tail three-engined jet and 117 of them were built for BEA.

The incident took place amid turbulence caused by an impending pilots’ strike which caused disruptions among the crew members. A postal ballot was being held and because of the possible strike, Flight 548 was loaded to maximum capacity. Part of the issue was pay increases, which younger pilots needed, but older pilots did not. Twenty-two of the lower paid co-pilots were already out on strike and even more junior help was placed into a higher demand position in order to keep flights moving. Captain Stanley Key had complained just three days prior how useless the inexperienced and recently promoted co-pilots were. Because of tensions in the cockpit, even more errors were made and while experienced pilots could compensate for the errors, given enough time, it was part of the issues pilots had with the company.

Key was an experienced pilot, aged 51 and with 15,000 hours flying time including 4,000 hours on this particular plane type. Jeremy Keighley was co-pilot, aged 22 with six weeks of employment with the company and just 29 hours experience in the co-pilot position. Simon Ticehurst, aged 24, was the P3 crew member with 1,400 hours of flying time including 750 on Tridents. There were three more crew members and 112 passengers on the flight which left Heathrow Airport on its way to Brussels. Just three minutes before takeoff, three other people needed to fly a plane back from Brussels were boarded, which necessitated the removal of some cargo because of weight restrictions. The doors were locked and 4.03 PM the plane was given permission to taxi and three minutes later they were given departure clearance.

One minute later, with clearance given a second time, Key was permitted to take off into the stormy skies full of turbulence and low cloud cover. At 4.08.30 they began to taxi and were in the skies 44 seconds later. The cloud cover was so low, there was little visibility and at 114 seconds into the flight, mechanical procedures began, which needed more altitude to be done correctly. Within two seconds the plane went into a deep stall. With no time to correct the problem and the plane crashed precisely at 4.11 PM just missing a busy London road. All aboard were killed. The crash was investigated under a media circus atmosphere. The end result was a new rule necessitating planes now carry cockpit voice recorders.

We were out with the dog and I looked up and saw the plane.

It was just coming out of the mist when the engines stalled and it seemed it glided down. It was just like a dream. The plane just fell out of the sky.

We just about saw it hit the ground … because it was right in a clump of trees.

When it did hit the ground the front bit hit first and the back bit was just blown away. – all from Trevor Burke, eyewitness aged 13

Sally Rides

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 18, 2015
STS-7 crew

STS-7 crew

June 18, 1983: STS-7 launches. The Space Transportation System’s mission was the seventh for the Space Shuttle Challenger. The launch took place from Kennedy Space Center at 11:33:00 UTC with five crewmembers aboard. Their mission was to deploy several satellites into orbit and perform some microgravity research. The flight lasted just over six days and the crew travelled slightly more than 2.5 million miles completing 97 orbits of the home world. Challenger was landed at Edwards Air Force Base on June 24, 1983 at 13:56:59 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). What was noteworthy about this specific mission was that one of the crew members, Sally Ride, was the first American woman to go into space.

Ride was born in Los Angeles, California in 1951 and was a physicist and astronaut. She found an advertisement in the Stanford University newspaper seeking applicants to the space program. She was one of 8,000 applicants. She joined NASA in 1978 and on this date not only became the first woman, but the youngest American astronaut to travel into space. She was just 32 at the time of her historic flight. She was the ground-based capsule communicator for STS-2 and STS-3. Even as she prepared, the media focused on her gender and asked her the most inane questions to which she responded that she saw herself simply as an astronaut. Two Soviet women had already made the trip to space.

Ride went to space, again aboard the Challenger, in 1984. She spent 343 hours in space and was training for another mission when the Challenger disaster took place. She began working in Washington, D.C. where she led the first strategic planning effort for NASA. She left that position in 1987 and returned to California where she worked first for Stanford University and then for University of California, San Diego. She continued to advocate for NASA and space exploration. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and seventeen months later died of the disease on July 23, 2012. She was 61 years old.

The Space Shuttle Challenger was involved in ten missions, nine of them successful. The first, STS-6, was launched on April 4, 1983 and returned to Earth on April 9. The ship spend 62 days, 7 hours, 56.22 seconds in space and made 995 orbits. Challenger travelled 25,803,939 miles. The last fateful trip, mission STS-51-L was launched on January 28, 1986. Just 73 seconds into the mission, the ship exploded and burst apart, killing the seven crew members including the first civilian, teacher Christa McAuliffe. This disaster grounded the entire Space Shuttle fleet for almost three years as improved safety measures were instituted.

The stars don’t look bigger, but they do look brighter.

All adventures, especially into new territory, are scary.

When you’re getting ready to launch into space, you’re sitting on a big explosion waiting to happen.

I did not come to NASA to make history. – all from Sally Ride

Also on this day: Mental Institutions and Being Governor – In 1959, Governor Earl Long was committed to a mental institution.
Taxi! – In 1923, the first Checker Cab rolled off the assembly line.
One Woman – No Vote – In 1873, Susan B. Anthony was found guilty of trying to vote.
What Was Up There? – In 1178, five monks observed an astronomical phenomenon.
Appeal – In 1940, Charles de Gaulle asked the world for help.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 18, 2014
Charles de Gaulle made his Appeal of 18 June.

Charles de Gaulle made his Appeal of 18 June

June 18, 1940: Charles de Gaulle makes his Appeal of 18 June. The official start of World War II was September 1, 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. It took slightly more than a month for the country to fall to Germany’s control. Germany’s victories were swift and decisive and when Hitler turned his sights on France, it was felt he may have finally met his match. During the World War I, France had been one of the Triple Entente powers and the Alsace-Lorraine area was known as the Western Front. Trench warfare held the invaders at bay but at tremendous cost. Weaponry had not yet advanced enough although use of chemical warfare had left over 190,000 French casualties. France remained free.

So with this second invasion, it was assumed that France would once again be able to stand up to Germany. Weaponry, especially the tank, had improved greatly. In just one month and twelve days, France fell. The French Third Republic was replaced by Vichy France. Marshal Philippe Petain, a World War I hero, signed an armistice with Nazi Germany against the wishes of de Gaulle. Petain collaborated with Germany for the formation of the Vichy government. This allowed France to not be divided between Axis powers, but also placed 2 million French soldiers as forced laborers for Germany. The Vichy government also helped round up Jews and “undesirables” for disposal. Although some saw this as a way to keep French autonomy and territorial integrity, it was only achieved by capitulation to complete German oversight.

De Gaulle escaped to London on June 15 and became the leader of the Free French Forces and the French Resistance. It is thought this speech was the impetus behind the Resistance, but it was heard only by a few Frenchmen. De Gaulle’s June 22 speech on the BBC was much more widely heard. Either way, this speech is considered to be one of the most important speeches in French history. The British government was not thrilled with letting de Gaulle speak over their airwaves, but a determined Winston Churchill gave special permission. It was feared the speech could antagonize Petain into an even closer alliance with Germany.

The speech was not recorded but there is a transcript available. This was found in the Swiss intelligence archives where it was published on June 19 for their own use. De Gaulle spoke of the leaders of the French government being in contact with Germany and stopping the fighting. The basic differences between the two wars were the planes and the tanks, but even more telling were the tactical uses the Germans put them to. Sacrificing the nation to stop the fighting wasn’t de Gaulle’s idea of victory. He reminded the French people that both the British and US governments would support them militarily and economically. He vowed that all was not lost for France; she was not alone; the flame of French resistance would not be extinguished.

This war is not limited to the unfortunate territory of our country.

This war is not over as a result of the Battle of France.

This war is a worldwide war. All the mistakes, all the delays, all the suffering, do not alter the fact that there are, in the world, all the means necessary to crush our enemies one day.

Vanquished today by mechanical force, in the future we will be able to overcome by a superior mechanical force. The fate of the world depends on it. – all from the Appeal of 18 June speech by Charles de Gaulle

Also on this day: Mental Institutions and Being Governor – In 1959, Governor Earl Long was committed to a mental institution.
Taxi! – In 1923, the first Checker Cab rolled off the assembly line.
One Woman – No Vote – In 1873, Susan B. Anthony was found guilty of trying to vote.
What Was Up There? – In 1178, five monks observed an astronomical phenomenon.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 18, 2013
Checker Cab

Checker Cab

June 18, 1923: Checker Motors Corporation of Kalamazoo, Michigan has the first Checker Cab roll off the assembly line. Back in 1908 a car called Seven Little Buffaloes began the chain of events that led to the iconoclastic Checker Cab. With mergers, moves, and improvements the taxicab industry grew. Morris Markin lent $15,000 to a friend who ran a small taxicab body plant. Markin needed to protect his investment – and the rest is history.

With further mergers, the Checker Cab Manufacturing Co. was created in 1922 and located in Joliet, Illinois. They were making three cabs a day then. By 1923 they were making 112 cabs per month while working seven day week. By April 1923, more than 600 Checker Cabs were on New York City streets. Checker was growing and a move to Kalamazoo followed. More models were created. By spring 1925, Checker was making 75 units per week. A whole new body design came about in 1928. By January 1929, there were 21,000 cabs in NYC and more than 8,000 of them were Checkers.

John Hertz began the taxi business in 1910 with Yellow Cabs. He produced too many cars and so developed a plan where drivers could rent “Yellow Drive-Ur-Self” cars, the forerunner of Hertz Rental Cars. Markin, a Chicago clothier and businessman, saw Hertz’s success and bought as much Checker stock as possible until he gained full control in 1937. Competition between Yellow and Checker cabs was furious. Markin was the first to hire African-American drivers and insisted that cabs pick up all fares – not just white folks.

In 1964, anti-trust suits were brought against Markin. He died in 1970 and in 1977 GM bought into the company. The last Checker automobile rolled off the assembly line on July 12, 1982. On July 26, 1999, the last NYC Checker Cab was removed from service. Earl Johnson had grown up in Jamaica and driven the car in NYC from 1978 to 1999 – 21 years. He named the car “Janie” after an old girlfriend. Her retirement was marked by a party in Times Square. Even though she had 994,050 miles on her odometer, she sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $134,500 in December 1999.

“Too bad all the people who know how to run the country are busy driving taxi cabs and cutting hair.” – George F. Burns

“If, in New York, you arrive late for an appointment, say, ‘I took a taxi.'” – Andre Maurois

“Any time three New Yorkers get into a cab without an argument, a bank has just been robbed.” – Phyllis Diller

“I think everyone should drive a cab two weeks to get a taste of Americana.” – Dennis Roberts

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Morris Markin was born in Russia in 1893. He began working in a clothing factory and by the age of 19 was promoted to a supervisory position. He emigrated to the US and when he arrived at Ellis Island, he could not speak English and did not have the $25 needed to pay the bond to enter the country. A janitor lent him the money. He went to Chicago to live with his uncle and eventually learned how to be a tailor from a mentor. When the man died, Merkin bought his business from the man’s widow using credit backed by her. He became successful enough to bring his nine siblings from Russia to the US. He and one of his brothers opened a factory which produced pants purchased by the US government during World War I.

Also on this day: Mental Institutions and Being Governor – In 1959, Governor Earl Long was committed to a mental institution.
One Woman – No Vote – In 1873, Susan B. Anthony was found guilty of trying to vote.
What Was Up There? – In 1178, five monks observed an astronomical phenomenon.

What Was Up There?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 18, 2012

Giordano Bruno crater on the moon

June 18, 1178: Five Canterbury monks observe “fire, hot coals, and sparks” bursting from the Moon’s surface. We will assume the men’s observations were not meant as a hoax, but were true events chronicled from the night in question. They recorded their sightings to the abbey’s chronicler, Gervase. They observed “two horns of light” emitting from the shaded portion of the Moon. The men did not claim it to be anything else; it was amazing enough on its own.

In 1976, geologist Jack B. Hartung proposed the vision was the result of the formation of the crater Giordano Bruno. This is an impact crater on the far side of the moon, just past the edge of observable moonscape. The crater is 14 miles in diameter and is a young crater, as estimated from the ray system in the surrounding surface. It has not been extensively eroded and extends for about 95 miles. The crater would have been formed by a meteor about a half-mile to two-miles wide. Such a strike would throw 10 million tons of ejecta into our atmosphere. This last feature is what led modern scientists to question the exact nature of the monks’ observations.

There would have been at least a week-long “blizzard-like” meteor shower on the home planet. There were no accounts of such events in the week following the observed phenomenon. The monks religiously recorded their data from the night in question with these words: the new crescent Moon “suddenly split in two. From the midpoint of this division a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out . . . fire, hot coals and sparks. . .The body of the moon, which was below writhed. . .throbbed like a wounded snake.” The wondrous sight repeated dozens of times that night.

However, there was no follow up reports of meteor showers either in England or the rest of the world. So what did the monks see? It is highly likely they witnessed a meteor explosion in the high atmosphere. Meteors appear to the naked eye at about 45-75 miles up in the atmosphere. Because of the laws of perspective, the monks witnessing a meteor explosion from their vantage point on Earth, would seem to be witnessing an event on the Moon rather than in Earth’s atmosphere. Only a small portion of Britain would have the same perspective which accounts for no other areas with astrometry records showing the same event.

I think they happened to be at the right place at the right time to look up in the sky and see a meteor that was directly in front of the moon, coming straight towards them. – Paul Withers

Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world. – Arthur Schopenhauer

There are truths on this side of the Pyranees, which are falsehoods on the other. – Blaise Pascal

What we see depends mainly on what we look for. – John Lubbock

Also on this day:

Mental Institutions and Being Governor – In 1959, Governor Earl Long was committed to a mental institution.
Taxi! – In 1923, the first Checker Cab rolled off the assembly line.
One Woman – No Vote – In 1873, Susan B. Anthony was found guilty of trying to vote.

One Woman – No Vote

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 18, 2011

Susan B. AnthonyJune 18, 1873: Susan B. Anthony is found guilty of willfully casting a ballot in the 1872 presidential election and fined $100 [about $1,700 in today’s currency]. Anthony was an abolitionist, educational reformer, labor activist, temperance worker, suffragist, and women’s rights campaigner. She attended her first women’s rights convention in 1852 at the age of 32.

On November 1, 1872 after threatening to sue if not permitted to register for the upcoming vote and after quoting the Fourteenth Amendment and relevant New York laws, Anthony and several friends were permitted to register for the upcoming election. This event led to headlines in the local papers and much debate among the male constituency. The local paper carried an editorial that proclaimed, “Citizenship no more carries the right to vote that it carries the power to fly to the moon… If these women in the Eighth Ward offer to vote, they should be challenged, and if they take the oaths and the Inspectors receive and deposit their ballots, they should all be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

The women voted on November 5. Sylvester Lewis, a Rochester salt miner, filed a complaint and Anthony was arrested on November 14 because she voted “without having a lawful right to vote.” After months of press, her trial was held in June. She was found guilty and fined, but refused to pay the fine. She was not imprisoned.

Universal suffrage is the right for all adults to vote. This right is sometimes limited by restrictions imposed because of gender, race, religion, or economic status. New Zealand was the first to grant women the right to vote in 1893. It took nearly a decade before any other country jumped on the bandwagon, but in 1902, Australia stepped up. The United States did not pass the Nineteenth Amendment which granted suffrage to women until 1920. There are still places where women’s [and men’s] suffrage is denied or conditional. In some areas, there is no suffrage and in others women are under stricter conditions than those that are applied to men.

“I have many things to say. My every right, constitutional, civil, political and judicial has been tramped upon. I have not only had no jury of my peers, but I have had no jury at all.”

“There never will be complete equality until women themselves help to make laws and elect lawmakers.”

“Resolved, that the women of this nation in 1876, have greater cause for discontent, rebellion and revolution than the men of 1776.”

“May it please your honor, I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty.” – all from Susan B. Anthony

Also on this day:
Mental Institutions and Being Governor – In 1959, Governor Earl Long was committed to a mental institution.
Taxi! – In 1923, the first Checker Cab rolled off the assembly line.

Mental Institutions and Being Governor

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 18, 2010

Earl K. Long

June 18, 1959: Three time governor of Louisiana, Earl K. Long is committed to a mental institution by his wife, Blanche. Earl was the brother of Huey Long, Louisiana governor from 1928-32 and a US Senator from 1932-35, when he was assassinated.

When the previous governor resigned, Earl became governor in 1939 but failed to be elected officially to the office in 1940. He served as governor again from 1948-52 and then again from 1956-60.

Although he was not trying to eliminate the Jim Crow laws in Louisiana, he was trying to ease the legally induced indignities faced by African-Americans who were being denied the right to vote. He also supported equal pay for teachers, regardless of race.

Long was not hospitalized for just spouting unpopular support for blacks. He was said to have wild or eccentric behavior. Today he might be diagnosed as bipolar. During his last term as governor, his wife tried to remove him from office due to “mental instability,” however he was never formally diagnosed. It seems his wife may not have minded her husband’s politics, but was instead incensed regarding his extra-curricular activities with stripper, Blaze Starr. Earl used his powers of office to effect a discharge from the mental hospital.

While in the hospital, he was able to manage his duties as governor via telephone. There was no law stating being held in a mental institution negated his ability to rule the state. Long eventually fired the head of the mental hospital, replaced him with a sympathetic supporter, and had himself released. He and Blanche separated, but Earl died of a heart attack while on the campaign trail (for United States House of Representatives) and before the divorce could be finalized.

“All it takes to make a good idea generate steam is a person who can get all fired up over it.” – O. A. Battista

“Never express yourself more clearly than you think.” – Niels Bohr

“Don’t write anything you can phone. Don’t phone anything you can talk. Don’t talk anything you can whisper. Don’t whisper anything you can smile. Don’t smile anything you can nod. Don’t nod anything you can wink.” – Earl Long

“The kind of thing I’m good at is knowing every politician in the state and remembering where he itches. And I know where to scratch him.” – Earl Long

Also on this day, in 1923 Checker Cabs began production.

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