TAKING FLIGHT

March 1st in history:

On March 1st, 1962, an American Airlines flight from New York to Los Angeles with 95 people aboard crashed into Jamaica Bay just after takeoff from Idlewild Airport on Long Island. No one survived. It was the worst crash involving a U.S. commercial airliner up until that time.

The crash happened on the same day that astronaut John Glenn was being honored in New York with a ticker-tape parade, for being the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth. Fellow Mercury astronaut Deke Slayton turned 38 that day. Slayton was scheduled to fly on the next Mercury mission, but a medical problem grounded him, and kept him from flying in space until 1975.

Other famous people associated with flying were born on March 1st.  They include:

Bandleader Glenn Miller (born 1904), lost on a plane flight while serving in World War II;

Actor Robert Conrad (birth year in dispute, either 1929 or 1935), who played World War II pilot Pappy Boyington on “Black Sheep Squadron,” but is best known as secret agent James West on “The Wild Wild West”;

And Ron Howard (1954), who directed the space drama Apollo 13.  Before becoming an award-winning director, Howard played Opie Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show” and Richie Cunningham on “Happy Days.”

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