September 17 in history:
Army Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge became the first person to die in a plane crash on September 17th, 1908. Orville Wright was flying the plane, and Selfridge was his passenger, in a demonstration at Fort Myer, Virginia. The plane went into a nose-dive after a propeller broke.
On this date in 1916, German Baron von Richthofen, the “Red Baron,” shot down his first enemy plane during World War One. The English plane was the first of 80 that Richthofen downed before he was shot down himself a year-and-a-half later.
Soldiers shoot at an airplane carrying IMF agents at the end of the pilot of “Mission: Impossible,” which debuted on CBS on this date in 1966. One year earlier, two series with heroes performing nearly impossible or secret missions premiered on CBS on September 17th, 1965: “The Wild Wild West” and “Hogan’s Heroes.”
“Mission: Impossible” star Peter Graves played an ill-fated pilot in the movie comedy “Airplane!” An ill-fated airplane flight to Las Vegas which has to be diverted to Casper, Wyoming, is a highlight of the 2011 comedy “Bridesmaids,” directed by Paul Feig, born on September 17th, 1962. Feig, also known for directing the 2016 “Ghostbusters” reboot and creating the TV series “Freaks and Geeks,” was born the same day and year as Australian movie director Baz Luhrmann, whose films include “Moulin Rouge!” and the 2013 remake of “The Great Gatsby.”
Below: Triviazoids’ Brad Williams quizzed on September 17 TV trivia on “Live with Regis and Kelly”, as seen in the documentary, “Unforgettable”.
November 14 in history:
Americans met the goal of reaching the moon before the end of the 1960’s when Apollo 11 landed in July of ’69. There would be one more manned trip to the moon before 1969 was over. Apollo 12 continued the moon exploration program when it was launched on November 14th that year.
The next lunar mission, Apollo 13, was scrubbed in mid-flight because of an accident, and made a dramatic return to the earth after orbiting the moon. Astronaut Fred Haise, born on this day in 1933, was the lunar module pilot on Apollo 13. It’s also the birthday of Ed White (1930), the first U.S. astronaut to walk in space. White died in 1967 in the launching pad fire inside the Apollo 1 spacecraft.
An airplane crash in West Virginia on November 14th, 1970, dealt a severe blow to the football program at Marshall University. A chartered plane carrying most of the Marshall team, coaches, and some fans crashed into a hill as the flight returned from a game in North Carolina. All 75 persons aboard the plane were killed. It took more than a decade for the university to rebuild the football program before Marshall had a winning season in 1984. The 2006 movie We Are Marshall tells the story of how the plane crash affected the university and the community.
An artist named Marshall was hired in 2005 to keep an enduring comic strip going. John Marshall is the latest cartoonist to draw the “Blondie” strip. He was born on this date in 1955.
Louis Mountbatten was an air vice-marshal for the British during World War II. On November 14th, 1973, Mountbatten’s grand-niece, Princess Anne, married Mark Phillips at Westminster Abbey. The wedding took place on the 25th birthday of Anne’s older brother, Prince Charles.
November 12 in history:
An American Airlines flight crashed in Queens, New York on November 12th, 2001, shortly after taking off from JFK Airport. More than 250 people were killed. It was the first major crash of a commercial airplane in the U.S. since the World Trade Center attack two months earlier, leading to concerns that it might be an act of terrorism. Even though pilot error was found to be the cause of the disaster, rumors spread that a terrorist did blow up the plane.
A very unusual explosion took place on this date in 1970, in Florence, Oregon…after a whale beached itself there. The Oregon Highway Division was the agency in charge of the state’s beaches at the time, and highway staffers decided that the best way to dispose of the eight-ton whale carcass was to blow it up with half-a-ton of dynamite. The explosion, captured on film by a local TV station, blasted chunks of whale hundreds of feet from the carcass.
An ice skating star was born in Oregon on the same day that whale blew up. Tonya Harding competed in women’s figure skating at the Winter Olympics of 1992 and 1994. The second time, Harding’s backers plotted to help her get to the Olympics by physically attacking her chief rival, Nancy Kerrigan, at the U.S. championships. Tonya got to the Olympics again, but the scheme blew up in their faces. Kerrigan recovered from her leg injury and won the Olympic silver medal, while Harding placed 8th.
Harding shares her November 12th birthday with another Olympic athlete: Nadia Comaneci of Romania, born in 1961. Comaneci made history at the Montreal Games of 1976 by getting the first perfect score in Olympic women’s gymnastics.