February 20th in history:
Congress was ready to end Prohibition in 1933. On February 20th of that year, members of Congress proposed the 21st Amendment, to repeal the 18th Amendment that banned liquor in the U.S. and led to the rise of gangsters such as Al Capone.
Chicago lawyer Edward Joseph O’Hare helped send Capone to prison. O’Hare’s son, Edward “Butch” O’Hare, became the first American flying ace of World War II on February 20th, 1942, by shooting down Japanese bombers over the Pacific. Chicago’s O’Hare Airport is named after Butch.
Twenty years later, on February 20th, 1962, John Glenn became a different type of flying ace. That was the day Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth in the Mercury capsule Friendship 7.
February 20th is also the birthday of some performers who have played high-flying characters:
Actress Sandy Duncan (born 1946) has played Peter Pan frequently on stage;
Comedian Joel Hodgson (1960) was stuck on a spaceship, watching bad movies with two wise-cracking robots, on the TV series “Mystery Science Theater 3000”;
And French Stewart (1964) was part of a “family” of space aliens posing as humans on the sitcom “3rd Rock from the Sun.”
October 7 in history:
Air France was founded on the same date in 1933, when five existing airlines merged into one.
October 7th was the day NASA established Project Mercury in 1958. The goal of the Mercury program was to have a man orbit the earth. That goal was achieved in 1962, when John Glenn flew aboard Friendship 7.
A cruise ship called the Achille Lauro was hijacked by four Palestinian terrorists during a trip on the Mediterranean on October 7th, 1985. About 400 people aboard were held hostage, and an American passenger was shot and killed and pushed overboard in his wheelchair. Two days later, the hijackers released the hostages and surrendered to the Egyptian government, but they were soon arrested after American fighter jets intercepted the plane they were flying to Tunisia.