Today in History: Dec. 17

At 10:35 a.m. on this date in 1903, for about 12 seconds, Orville Wright took the first sustained motorized aircraft flight at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina.

The Wright Brothers flew a total of four times that morning and afternoon. Orville and Wilbur took turns flying and they stopped for the day with a crash of the flyer from an altitude of about ten feet. That last flight covered 852 feet in 59 seconds.

Almost as important as the flights themselves was the fact that the brothers had five witnesses present. One of them, John T. Daniels, took the famous photo at the top of this article. Orville is the pilot in the photo, and Wilbur is running alongside.

* * * *
The new Ellis Island Immigrant Station opened on this date in 1900. Over a million and a half immigrants had passed through the first station in its five years in use, from 1892 to 1897, when a fire destroyed it.

The new building was slated to process 5000 immigrants per day, but it was a rare day when the number was that small. In 1907, over a million individuals were processed through Ellis Island. All told, more then ten million came through the new station, including my great-grandmother, Bella. It is the 1900 building which still stands as a museum.

* * * *
The Simpsons debuted on this date in 1989 on Fox. Now in its 28th season, 606 episodes have been aired. Last month Fox renewed the series for seasons 29 and 30.

* * * *
Simón Bolívar died on this date in 1830. Captain Beefheart died six years ago today. Kim Jong-il died five years ago today.

* * * *
William Safire was born in 1929 on this date. Bob Guccione was born on this date in 1930. John Kennedy Toole was born on this date in 1937. Paul Butterfield was born on this date in 1942.

* * * *
Pope Francis is 80 today. Ernie Hudson is 71. Chris Matthews is 71. Eugene Levy is 70 today. “A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow” from A Mighty Wind:

Paul Rodgers is 67. Bill Pullman is 62. Peter Farrelly is 60. Mike Mills (R.E.M.) is 58. Sara Dallin (Bananarama) is 55 today. Milla Jovovich is 41. “Gentlemen Who Fell,” from 1994:

Senator Manny Pacquiao is 38.

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One comment

  1. loisajay · December 17, 2016

    Doh!! No Simpsons clip?

    Liked by 1 person

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