Little Bits of History

September 24

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 24, 2017

1852: Henri Giffard flies. The French engineer was born in 1825, in Paris. He invented a steam injector engine to power his airship. This type of engine pushed cold water into a boiler against its own pressure and used its own exhaust as power. While this seems to be a perpetual motion machine, thermodynamics holds the explanation. His airship or dirigible weight over 400 pounds and was the world’s first passenger carrying airship. His engine was able to deliver 3 hp and made the craft steerable. On this day he traveled from Paris to Elancourt, but was unable to return because he did not have enough power to drive against the wind. The 18 miles journey was able to prove the craft could make turns and was under his control.

In 1670, Jesuit priest Francesco Lana de Terzi, proposed a theoretical airship for the first time. His ship had four copper spheres completely emptied of air which would raise the ship. This was never built and still cannot be built today because the spheres would collapse from air pressure unless they were so thick, the ship would be too heavy to lift. The theory, however, remains possible. Others kept trying to come up with a way for mankind to fly.  There are rigid, semi-rigid, and non-rigid airships today and all of them must have certain components to be classified as an airship. They must have an envelope in which lifting gas is contained. They must also have a gondola for the crew and passengers and there must be a propulsion system which can be controlled.

Rigid airships have a rigid framework and can be built to any size. Semi-rigid ships have some supporting structure but the main envelope is held in shape by internal pressure. Non-rigid airships are called blimps and rely entirely on internal pressure to keep the envelope expanded. It can have only one envelope, unlike the other two types which can have compartmentalized envelopes. Blimps usually have “ballonets” containing air which are filled at sea level, but that air is expelled at altitude via pressure valves. The process is reversed while landing.

After Giffard’s success, improvements in airships was swift. A decade later, Solomon Andrews offered his newer design to the US for use in the Civil War. More experimentation changed the way lift was used to help provide propulsion. Twenty years after Giffard’s steam engine worked, Paul Haenlein included an internal combustion engine in his ship.  Airships were used in both world wars but since then they are no longer used for major cargo or passenger transport. Giffard was appointed a Chevalier in the Legion d’honneur in 1863. His eyesight failed as he aged and as a response to this, he committed suicide in 1882 at the age of 58. He left his estate to France for humanitarian and scientific purposes.

The sky is an infinite movie to me. I never get tired of looking at what’s happening up there. – K. D. Lang

Look at the sky. We are not alone. The whole universe is friendly to us and conspires only to give the best to those who dream and work. – A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

No one is free, even the birds are chained to the sky. – Bob Dylan

This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet. – Rumi




One Hour

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 24, 2015
60 Minutes Logo in use today*

60 Minutes Logo in use today*

September 24, 1968: 60 minutes premieres on CBS TV in the US. The original program ran every other week and was based on the Canadian program W5, already two years old. Harry Reasoner and Mike Wallace hosted the show. The premise of the program, created by Don Hewitt, was to be a kind of magazine, but for television. There were seven segments on the first show and much of the time was spent on the upcoming presidential elections. The first “magazine-cover” was a chroma key photo of two helmeted policemen (one segment was about police brutality). In the beginning, the backdrop behind the hosts was ecru and the familiar black, still in use today, appeared in 1969. Alpo dog food was the sole sponsor of the first show. What was not present on the first show was the stopwatch that came to be synonymous with the show’s opening.

The name of the show was the numeral 60 with minutes all in lower case and written using Helvetica type. In 1974, MINUTES was put into all uppercase and Eurostile font was used. The show is based on investigative journalism and used many techniques to create interesting segments. Re-editing interviews, hidden cameras, and “gotcha journalism” (interviews designed to entrap the interviewee – a pejorative term) were all used. There were always feature stories that were national in scope, but usually focused on individuals involved in or in conflict with the issues. Features were usually limited to 13 minutes in length.

Reasoner left CBS to co-anchor a news program on ABC  and Morley Safer joined the team in 1970. The FCC was trying to give networks an opportunity to present programs locally and passed the Prime Time Access Rule in 1971. This took time away from networks but the private affiliates found it expensive to create programs. It was not until 1975 that 60 Minutes moved to its permanent spot at 7 PM EST on Sundays. It has aired at that time for the last 40 years setting records for the show. But it has caused problems. The show has been preempted  and delayed because of programming issues and forced CBS to alter the way it broadcast many of its weekend sports shows.

Andy Rooney joined the show in 1978 and offered his curmudgeonly insights until 2011. He died one month later at the age of 92. The show continues to air on CBS and is based out of New York City. The executive producer now is Jeff Fager who took over in 2004. Hewitt had remained in the position until that time, but retired when he was 82. The show is hosted by Steve Kroft, Scott Pelley, Lesley Stahl, and Bill Whitaker with a list of correspondents who add segments to each issue. The list of former hosts, correspondents, and commentators is long and includes many famous names from the ranks of television newsmen/newswomen. Based on ratings, 60 Minutes is the most successful program in US history.

Confrontation is not a dirty word. Sometimes it’s the best kind of journalism as long you don’t confront people just for the sake of a confrontation. – Don Hewitt

If you’re a good journalist, what you do is live a lot of things vicariously, and report them for other people who want to live vicariously.  – Harry Reasoner

To go around the world, to talk to almost anybody you want to talk to, to have enough time on the air, so that you could really tell a full story. What a voyage of discovery it was.  – Mike Wallace

A lot of sponsors over the years have left us. They’ve all come back. But they chose to leave us for a while because of stories we have done about them or their products or their friend’s products or whatever. – Morley Safer

All this time I’ve been paid to say what is on my mind in television. You don’t get any luckier than that. Andy Rooney, his last broadcast

Also on this day: Powerful Serve; Best Backhand – In 1938, John Donald Budge became the first tennis player to win the Grand Slam of tennis.
Majestic 12 – In 1947, Harry S Truman did not form a secret society.
Devil’s Tower – In 1906, this landmark was declared a National Monument.
Byzantine – In 1180, Manuel I Komnenos died.
Not Rigid Airship – In 1911, a German airship blew apart.

* “New60minutes” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

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Not Rigid Airship

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 24, 2014
Broken airship

Broken airship

September 24, 1911: His Majesty’s Airship No. 1 doesn’t take off. Designed and built by Vickers, Sons and Maxim in Cumbria, England for the British Royal Navy, the ship was the first rigid airship built in the country. It was to compete with the dominance of the German airship program. The ship was called Mayfly by the noncommissioned naval crew assigned to her. Public records show her designation as HMA Hermione because the naval contingent was stationed at Barrow aboard HMS Hermione, the ship assigned as the airship’s tender. Her story began three years earlier when the Royal Navy decided to venture into rigid airships in response to Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin’s success.

It was decided the Navy could afford £35,000 for the venture but Vickers said they could build the ship for just £28,000, not including the gas-bags and outer covers, which the Admiralty would acquire through private contractors. Vickers would also build a construction shed at their own expense but they would then have a ten year monopoly on airship construction. This was similar to the deal they had brokered with the Crown for submarine construction. Vickers got the contract, but the ten year monopoly line item was refused.

Mayfly was intended to be an aerial scout. There were some differences in the designs between the British and German models. Mayfly was 66 feet longer than LZ 6 with 50% greater volume. The Zeppelins of the time had a useful load of 10,000 pounds and could fly at 37 mph. Vickers’s ship was intended to be moorable on water, carry radio equipment, and have a cruising speed of 46 mph while carrying a crew of 20 comfortably. The mooring was to be via a mast and the Mayfly was the first ship to have the mooring equipment in the nose of the ship. Experimental sections were built and wood seemed preferable for the frame, but the Navy wished it to be made entirely of metal and when duralumin became available, it became the method of choice.

Trials had been held and the airship had been in and out of the Cavendish Dock building. The crew had practiced maneuvers both with getting the ship out of the hanger and with handling in the air. Previous static trials had proved successful. On this day, the Mayfly was being moved from the shed as high winds were blowing. Just as the nose cleared the hangar door, a gust caused the ship to roll onto her beam end and break in two pieces. The crew abandoned ship and there were no fatalities as the wreck was returned to the shed the same day and never flown. Winston Churchill took over as First Lord of the Admiralty in October 1911 and preferred heavier-than-air aircraft. The airship idea was forever grounded.

Altogether, compared with other navies, the British aeroplane service has started very well… I have a less satisfactory account to give of airships. – Winston Churchill

The ‘May-fly’ broke three years ago, and nothing further has been done. In non-rigid airships, Germany has seventeen, and against that we have two very inferior ones and two on order, but we are not doing anything in this respect. – Bolton Eyres-Monsell

The mishap which destroyed theMay-fly, or the Won’t Fly, as it would be more accurate to call it, at Barrow, was a very serious set-back to the development of Admiralty policy in airships. – Winston Churchill

Two crews were used to look after the ship whilst out, as the work was new. They lived on board the airship and suffered no discomfort at all although no provision had been made for cooking or smoking on board. – from the Handbook for HMA No. 1

Also on this day: Powerful Serve; Best Backhand – In 1938, John Donald Budge became the first tennis player to win the Grand Slam of tennis.
Majestic 12 – In 1947, Harry S Truman did not form a secret society.
Devil’s Tower – In 1906, this landmark was declared a National Monument.
Byzantine – In 1180, Manuel I Komnenos died.

Majestic 12

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 24, 2013
Harry S Truman

Harry S Truman

September 24, 1947: Harry S Truman did not form a secret society. On July 7, 1947 something crashed in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico. Personnel from Roswell Army Air Field recovered debris from a top-secret research balloon – or an alien spacecraft with possible crew members alive and well. Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO) have been sighted since mankind first looked up into the sky. Some were comets, meteors, or unknown and rarely visible planets. Others were omens, angels, and various other-worldly phenomenons.

It is alleged that the President formed a secret committee comprised of military leaders, government officials, and of course, scientists. Their mission was to gather information and protect the nation from alien harm. It is suggested that Dr. Vannevar Bush and Secretary of Defense James Forrestal were the driving force behind the group’s origin. The 12 core members were all deceased by the time the Majestic 12 was revealed by astute researchers gaining access to the “Top Secret” papers.

The 12 members were said to be helped by other noted scientist of the time – e.g. Oppenheimer, Einstein, and von Braun. The men listed as members of the group did look into various claims of UFO sightings. Several books were written – giving evidence supporting Earthlings creativity and increasing scientific knowledge, but no known contact with alien life forms. They were men who were responsible for the country’s safety and as the arms and space race blossomed, were keenly aware of the disturbances. It was their job to watch the skies (and other possible routes for invasion).

At the time of the “discovery” there was an outcry from the public of government cover-up. Supporting documentation was produced by Jamie Shandera (a ufologist) and William Moore (Roswell researcher). Further investigation by outsiders revealed Moore’s involvement in trying to procure bogus documentation supporting alien existence from various sources – from nuclear physicist Stanton T. Friedman to National Enquirer reporter Bob Pratt. The FBI has examined all documentation provided and due to formatting inconsistencies and errors with dating, have labeled them fraudulent.

“It’s a very typical UFO sighting. Carter said it changed color and, in the physical report, described it as being about the size of the moon. And he saw it with about twenty-five other people.” – Dwight Schultz

“I don’t mind UFO’s and ghost stories, it’s just that I tend to give value to the storyteller rather than to the story itself.” – Robert Stack

“I’ll tell you, too, that’s starting to depress me about UFO’s, about the fact that they cross galaxies, or wherever they come from to visit us, and always end up in places like Fife, Alabama. Maybe these are not super-intelligent beings, man.” – Bill Hicks

“I don’t believe in the UFO mythology but I find it fascinating. Episodically, I find it fascinating.” – Ken MacLeod

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: UFO conspiracy theories argue that evidence of unidentified flying objects as well as extraterrestrial visitors are being suppressed by government entities globally. The “proof” for these accusations is often totally nonexistent or at best very thin. The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry does not subscribe to a cover-up. However, there are some well-credentialed people who do claim there has been a cover-up of intentional dismissal on the subject of UFOs and extraterrestrial visits, at least by the US government. There have been claims that the White House has suppressed, ignored, or marginalized reports from generals, pilots, and other government officials. Some claim this is to facilitate the abduction of humans by the aliens.

Also on this day: Powerful Serve; Best Backhand – In 1938, John Donald Budge became the first tennis player to win the Grand Slam of tennis.
Devil’s Tower – In 1906, this landmark was declared a National Monument.
Byzantine – In 1180, Manuel I Komnenos died.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 24, 2012

Manuel I Komnenos

September 24, 1180: Manuel I Komnenos dies. He was the fourth son of John II Komnenos and Piroska of Hungary. As such, Manuel was very unlikely to succeed to the throne of the Byzantine Empire. He had distinguished himself in battle against the Seljuk Turks and when his father died in April 1143, John named Manuel as his successor over his older surviving brother, Isaac. However, since John died far from home in Cilicia, Manuel needed to hasten back to Constantinople to ensure his father’s deathbed wishes would be carried out. Before he could leave Cilicia, he had to have his father’s funeral and also organize the building of a monastery on the spot where John II had died, as was the custom of the time.

While attending to these issues, Manuel sent the megas domestikos (the name for the commander-in-chief of the Byzantine land army) John Axouch ahead to the capital. There, Manuel’s greatest potential rival to the throne, Isaac, was arrested. Isaac was living in the Great Palace and had access to all the imperial treasure and regalia. Axouch arrived in Constantinople even before the news of Emperor John’s death and was able to secure the loyalty of the city. When Manuel finally arrived in August 1143, he was crowned the new Patriarch, Michael Kourkouas. Now secure as emperor, he ordered his brother released.

The empire established by Constantine eight centuries earlier was much changed by the time Manuel came to power. The empire had expanded taking in much of the Mediterranean basin. With the rise of Islam and spread of their empire, the Byzantine empire shrank. For years, Byzantium was mostly contained by Asia Minor and the Balkans. By the end of the first millennium, it was in rapid decline. Manuel inherited an even smaller empire after recent losses to the Normans and the Seljuk Turks. An even newer assault was in the Levant where new Crusader states had recently taken hold.

The Second Crusade gave the emperor several issues to deal with. The Catholic crusaders arrived to gain control of the Holy Lands and the Muslim jihadists did not wish to relinquish control. Much of the conflict impinged on Byzantium. Manuel was also beset by Roger II of Sicily in the late 1140s and early 1150s. Pressures of war were great enough that even a Papal-Byzantine alliance was created but the schism of eons past could not be healed. During the entirety of Manuel’s reign, there were wars or threats of wars. When he died on this day, he was the last of the Komnenian restoration emperors. Without him, the empires slipped into total decline.

I would prefer to be a citizen of an independent country rather than Emperor of an enslaved one. – Bao Dai

It becomes an emperor to die standing. – Titus Flavius Vespasian

No one would have doubted his ability to reign had he never been emperor. – Tacitus

The fact that I was a girl never damaged my ambitions to be a pope or an emperor. – Willa Cather

Also on this day:

Powerful Serve; Best Backhand – In 1938, John Donald Budge became the first tennis player to win the Grand Slam of tennis.
Majestic 12 – In 1947, Harry S Truman did not form a secret society.
Devil’s Tower – In 1906, this landmark was declared a National Monument.

Devils Tower

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 25, 2011

Devils Tower

September 24, 1906: President Theodore Roosevelt proclaims Devils Tower a National Monument, the first ever in the United States.DevilsToweris a monolith, or igneous intrusion, located in the northeast portion of Wyoming. It rises 1,267 feet above the surrounding area. The National Monument includes the famous rock as well as 1,347 acres of surrounding lands. Nearly 400,000 people visit the tower each year and about 4,000 of them scale to the summit 5,112 feet above sea level.

A National Monument is comparable to a National Park except that a President can declare an area a Monument without waiting for the longer process which requires Congress to vote on making an area a National Park. The Monuments also receive less funding. The Antiquities Act of 1906 was passed because of concerns about protecting Native American prehistoric artifacts. The Arapaho, Crow, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Lakota, and Shoshone tribes all had cultural and geographic ties to the monolith.

Several tribes consider the site a holy place and have asked that climbing to the summit be halted entirely. The Park Service asks that climbers refrain from their pursuit in June when the monolith is part of the Native rituals and rites. About 85% of climbers respect the request but there was a suit brought stating the government was acting inappropriately for religious purposes.

There are 57 National Monuments within the National Park System covering 2,157,574 acres and a total of 93 Monuments between all departments overseeing their use. The National Park Service runs 391 parks and 60% of those areas have historic significance. The Park Service maintains a web presence to help with educational endeavors. They wish to maintain the historic places geographically as well as the timelessness of the lessons they teach.

“We cannot let our nation’s parks deteriorate beyond repair. It is essential that Congress act now to protect and restore our National Parks System.” – Brian Baird

“Protecting dark night skies in our National Parks is as vital as protecting clean air, water, wildlife and the sounds of nature.” – Thomas Kiernan

“What we don’t want to do is price the national park experience out of anyone’s lifestyle.” – James Doyle

“If you like wide-open spaces and a sense of the Old West and pioneering spirit, there’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park.” – Al Nash

Also on this day:
Powerful Serve; Best Backhand – In 1938, John Donald Budge became the first tennis player to win the Grand Slam of tennis.
Majestic 12 – In 1947, Harry S Truman did not form a secret society.

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