Houston, We Have a Problem

Today in History

The crew of the Apollo 13 mission step aboard ...

The crew of the Apollo 13 mission step aboard the U.S.S. Iwo Jima, prime recovery ship for the mission, following splashdown and recovery operations in the South Pacific. Exiting the helicopter, which made the pick-up some four miles from the Iwo Jima are (from left) astronauts Fred. W. Haise, Jr., lunar module pilot; James A. Lovell Jr., commander; and John L. Swigert Jr., command module pilot. The Apollo 13 spacecraft splashed down at 12:07:44 pm CST on April 17, 1970. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the world anxiously watching, Apollo 13, a U.S. lunar spacecraft that suffered a severe malfunction on its journey to the moon, safely returns to Earth.

On April 11, the third manned lunar landing mission was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise. The mission was headed for a landing on the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon. However, two days into the mission, disaster struck 200,000 miles from Earth when oxygen tank No. 2 blew up in the spacecraft. Swigert reported to mission control on Earth, “Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” and it was discovered that the normal supply of oxygen, electricity, light, and water had been disrupted. The landing mission was aborted, and the astronauts and controllers on Earth scrambled to come up with emergency procedures. The crippled spacecraft continued to the moon, circled it, and began a long, cold journey back to Earth.

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On April 17, 1790, American statesman, printer, scientist, and writer Benjamin Franklin dies in Philadelphia at age 84.

Born in Boston in 1706, Franklin became at 12 years old an apprentice to his half brother James, a printer and publisher. He learned the printing trade and in 1723 went to Philadelphia to work after a dispute with his brother. After a sojourn in London, he started a printing and publishing press with a friend in 1728. In 1729, the company won a contract to publish Pennsylvania‘s paper currency and also began publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette, which was regarded as one of the better colonial newspapers. From 1732 to 1757, he wrote and published Poor Richard’s Almanack, an instructive and humorous periodical in which Franklin coined such practical American proverbs as “God helps those who help themselves” and “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

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The Bay of Pigs invasion begins when a CIA-financed and -trained group of Cuban refugees lands in Cuba and attempts to topple the communist government of Fidel Castro. The attack was an utter failure.

Fidel Castro had been a concern to U.S. policymakers since he seized power in Cuba with a revolution in January 1959. Castro’s attacks on U.S. companies and interests in Cuba, his inflammatory anti-American rhetoric, and Cuba’s movement toward a closer relationship with the Soviet Union led U.S. officials to conclude that the Cuban leader was a threat to U.S. interests in the Western Hemisphere. In March 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the CIA to train and arm a force of Cuban exiles for an armed attack on Cuba. John F. Kennedy inherited this program when he became president in 1961.

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Heavy eruptions of the Tambora volcano in Indonesia are letting up by this day in 1815. The volcano, which began rumbling on April 5, killed almost 100,000 people directly and indirectly. The eruption was the largest ever recorded and its effects were noted throughout the world.

Tambora is located on Sumbawa Island, on the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago. There had been no signs of volcanic activity there for thousands of years prior to the 1815 eruption. On April 10, the first of a series of eruptions that month sent ash 20 miles into the atmosphere, covering the island with ash to a height of 1.5 meters.

Five days later, Tambora erupted violently once again. This time, so much ash was expelled that the sun was not seen for several days. Flaming hot debris thrown into the surrounding ocean caused explosions of steam. The debris also caused a moderate-sized tsunami. In all, so much rock and ash was thrown out of Tambora that the height of the volcano was reduced from 14,000 to 9,000 feet.

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Ford Mustang

Ford Mustang (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Ford Mustang, a two-seat, mid-engine sports car, is officially unveiled by Henry Ford II at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York, on April 17, 1964. That same day, the new car also debuted in Ford showrooms across America and almost 22,000 Mustangs were immediately snapped up by buyers. Named for a World War II fighter plane, the Mustang was the first of a type of vehicle that came to be known as a “pony car.” Ford sold more than 400,000 Mustangs within its first year of production, far exceeding sales expectations.

The Mustang was conceived as a “working man’s Thunderbird,” according to Ford. The first models featured a long hood and short rear deck and carried a starting price tag of around $2,300. Ford general manager Lee Iacocca, who became president of the company in October 1964 (and later headed up Chrysler, which he was credited with reviving in the 1980s) was involved in the Mustang’s development and marketing. The car’s launch generated great interest. It was featured on the covers of Newsweek and Time magazines and the night before it went on sale, the Mustang was featured in commercials that ran simultaneously on all three major television networks. One buyer in Texas reportedly slept at a Ford showroom until his check cleared and he could drive his new Mustang home. The same year it debuted, the Mustang appeared on the silver screen in the James Bond movie “Goldfinger.” A green 1968 Mustang 390 GT was famously featured in the 1968 Steve McQueen movie “Bullitt,” in a car chase through the streets of San Francisco. Since then, Mustangs have appeared in hundreds of movies.

I think they got a bit confused here, the Mustangs I saw were front engined and 4 passenger but, it was still a sweet ride. Thanks, Lee Iaccoca.

And from the soundtrack of my life,

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On this day in 1976, Mike Schmidt of the Philadelphia Phillies hits four consecutive home runs in a game against the Chicago Cubs. Schmidt was only the fourth player in the history of Major League Baseball to accomplish this feat.

After attending Ohio University, Schmidt was drafted by the Phillies as the 30th overall pick in the 1971 MLB draft and made his big-league debut on September 12, 1972. In 1974, he led the National League in home runs for the first of what would turn out to be eight times in his career. In 1976, Schmidt, who became known for a batting stance in which he practically turned his back to the pitcher, knocked out a record 12 homers in the first 15 games of the season. Included in the dozen round trippers were the four in a row he hit on April 17 of that year to help the Phillies defeat the Cubs in 10 innings, 18-16. Bobby Lowe of the Boston Beaneaters was the first player on record to hit four home runs in a row, in a game against the Cincinnati Reds on May 30, 1894. He was followed by Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees on June 3, 1932, in a game against the Philadelphia Athletics. On June 10, 1959, Rocky Colavito of the Cleveland Indians knocked out four straight homers against the Baltimore Orioles.

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One other event occurred on this day in history that is kind of important, to me, at least: I was born. You guys hold the fort, I’m gonna go play.

 

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