On January 13, 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the 14th Street Bridge across the Potomac River in Washington, immediately after takeoff in a severe snowstorm - an incident that would leave 78 people dead, including four on the ground.
Freezing weather gripped much of the East Coast that morning when the Boeing 737-222 airliner took off from Washington National Airport with 79 passengers and crew members. The plane was scheduled to stop in Tampa, Florida, before continuing to Fort Lauderdale.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the captain and crew's reactions to the icy conditions outside put the plane in jeopardy. It failed to get airborne enough to clear the 14th Street Bridge, where it slammed into seven occupied vehicles, killing four people in those vehicles. The plane then lurched into the Potomac, where it sank quickly into the ice-strewn river, leaving only the tail section afloat for survivors to cling to.
About 20 minutes after the plane plunged into the Potomac, a rescue helicopter from the U.S. Park Service arrived and began lifting weakened survivors from the water. The nation watched newscasts showing the helicopter hovering over the icy river and rescuers plucking survivors from the fast-sinking wreckage.
Only six passengers were not killed on impact. A blizzard slowed rescue efforts as icy roads and traffic jams kept emergency vehicles from reaching the scene.
One of initial survivors was Arland D. Williams Jr. As rescuers frantically threw lines to survivors, Williams continually handed off the ropes to others.
Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
Ah, the good old days, when life was simple and counters were Formica. Kodak film imaging helped document iconic moments in the 20th century, but the photography giant now faces the possibility of bankruptcy. When CNN posted a photo gallery highlighting a collection of Kodachrome photos, plus a CNN iReport assignment asking for users' photos, we expected readers to share their feelings of nostalgia for a bygone era. What surprised us a bit were all the comments debating the meaning of our longings for the good old days.
For many readers, there was an intense feeling of nostalgia. Yet few could forget everything else that isn't shown in a photograph.
Elaine: "These slides fill me with a crushing sadness. Who are these people? How many of them are long dead? How many are forgotten? What happened to their families, their lives, that caused their precious memories to end up in the hands of a stranger - a well-meaning stranger who clearly treasures and takes good care of these images, but is still a stranger? There is an idyllic feeling here, as well, that seems to be gone from today. I agree with many of the other commenters that the 1950s was not idyllic, not only for non-white folk, but for many white folk as well. However, the photos themselves are dreamlike and alien, images not only of people long dead, but an age long gone, never to return. This gallery moved me tremendously. Thank you for sharing these."
One of the most-debated topics was exactly how much "optimism" should be associated with the mid-century. FULL POST
If it wasn't for bad weather, poorly designed watercraft or well executed naval attacks, what would marine archaeologists do? This past year has brought to us a wealth of shipwreck discoveries and allowed our modern era better insight into the ships of the past. If you don't believe Davey Jones still has some fascinating discoveries held captive below the high seas, avoid walking the plank and just check out these videos.
13th Century Mongol ship discovered – They were the peak of land warfare in their time, and perhaps the crew of a sunken Mongol ship regrets leaving the firm ground of Asia behind for the Japanese islands. In a truly rare find, marine archaeologists in Japan uncovered the remains of a ship from a Mongol invasion fleet dating back to 1281. The team believes wreckage could provide better insight into attacks on Japan around that time period.
Twitter users and bloggers were keen Sunday to share tributes to the victims and heroes of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Frequently used Twitter hashtags included #Sept11, #NeverForget, #WTC, #FDNY, #Wherewereyou, #911whereiwas, #NYC, #godblessamerica, and #RIP 9 (which probably was supposed to be 9/11, but Twitter cut it off after the slash).
While many tweets sounded the same notes of honor for the dead and condolence to their families, a few stood out. Some examples:
FDNYnews: Today we honor the 343 #FDNY members & thousands of others killed 10 years ago. They were all heroes.
Queen Rania of Jordan: As we remember that tragic morning ten years ago today, let us work together for better understanding and reconciliation.
1PolicePlaza: Today we remember the 23 NYPD Officers, NYC's finest that were killed at the site of the WTC.
Anonym_Iran: On 2001/09/11, thousands and thousands Iranians went instantly in the streets with candles in homage to the victims.
Rachel Sklar, editor-at-large, Mediaite.com: Hold ya head, NYC ... still the greatest city in the world. Salute, 143 (143 is code for "I love you")
JennymontyinSD (Jennifer Montgomery): I was working in the US Capitol, the Let's Roll heroes of Flight 93 prob saved my life. Peace, Love, & Remembrance to all.
Pandaa_TC: It's hard to think that the victims of 9/11 were home sleeping in bed with their families 10 years ago. RIP 9/11.
Jeffhardyforevr, a New Yorker named Dawn: Unfulfilled unfinished undone and innocent. The sadness n stress is washing over me like a black cloud. Miss you SO much Joey RIP 9/11/01
New York poet Amalie Flynn completed a year-long project to post a short poem every day to remember 9/11 and honor its victims and heroes on her blog at http://septembereleventh.wordpress.com/.
A blogger called Star Bear on WordPress.com wrote, among other things, "Things are changing, some minds are changing. There are quiet, joyful voices singing in harmony. Peace to you this day, may your heart be filled with peace - and joy."
In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court declared all laws establishing segrated schools unconstitutional. That meant African-American students could legally attend all-white schools. By 1957, the NAACP registered a group of nine black students to attend Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. The school board agreed to comply with the 1954 ruling and approved a plan for gradual integration that would start that school year.
On September 4, that group of students, later nicknamed the "Little Rock 9," attempted to enter Central High on the first day of school, but a crowd of angry students and hundreds of National Guardsmen blocked them from entering. The incident grabbed national attention - and the attention of President Eisenhower. As a result, the nine students attended the school under federal protection, opening the door for black students across the country. In today's Gotta Watch, we're featuring highlights from that historic day and reaction from the Little Rock 9 as they look back on their experiences three decades later.
A day that changed history – Take a look at this historical footage from the very day the so-called Little Rock 9 were blocked from entering their school.
In the final week of August 1954, Hurricane Carol wheeled along the East Coast on a course closely matching the path projected for Hurricane Irene this weekend.
The storm touched the Outer Banks of North Carolina, then followed the contour of the coast, skipping across the eastern tip of Long Island and plowing into Connecticut.
Pushed by sustained winds of 80 to 100 mph and exacerbated by high tides, storm surges reached more than 14 feet in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, according to a National Weather Service archive.
The strongest wind ever recorded on Block Island, Rhode Island - 135 mph - occurred during that 1954 storm.
Entire communities were devastated in New London, Groton, and Mystic, Connecticut, as well as from Westerly to Narragansett, Rhode Island, according to HurricaneScience.org.
Yet the storm was compact in comparison to Irene. According to the historical reports, western areas in Connecticut and Massachusetts saw much lower winds and comparatively minor damage.
The hurricane lost strength as it streaked north through New Hampshire and into Canada.
Carol killed at least 65 people and destroyed nearly 4,000 homes, about 3,500 vehicles and more than 3,000 boats, according to the weather service.
Hurricanes Edna and Hazel also struck the East Coast, but Florida and the Gulf Coast were generally spared in that unusual year, according to HurricaneScience.org.
U.S. military forensics scientists in Hawaii are investigating whether a skull unearthed during dredging at Pearl Harbor may be from a Japanese flier killed in the December 7, 1941, attack.
Historian Daniel Martinez tells CNN affiliate KHON-TV that based on where the skull was found, it may be that of an aviator from a Japanese torpedo plan that was attacking battleship row and was hit in its engine by anti-aircraft fire from the destroyer USS Bagley.
"Once they came over Hickam Field, they lowered to an altitude of about 35 feet and they're moving across that water at about 150 knots. Well that projectile stopped that plane right in its tracks," Martinez told KHON.
Eliot Ness would probably be a little annoyed to see his nemesis's revolver drawing six-figure bids.
The Prohibition agent of "Untouchables" fame spent about two years trying to nail Al Capone and his murderous cabal, only to see the Chicago gangster dodge charges of smuggling, bootlegging, prostitution or, if we're pointing fingers in the 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre (we aren't), much worse.
Capone eventually went down on tax evasion charges stemming from a separate investigation. The seven years and change that the mobster spent in prison ultimately were his undoing; he died about seven years after his 1939 release.
Now, more than six decades following Capone's death, one of his belongings is drawing the cult fascination that so often accompanies the appurtenances of gangsters, psychos and other monumental miscreants.
Christie's, the world-famous auction house, is selling Capone's .38 special, a "police-positive" Colt nickel-plated, six-shot double-action revolver. It also has a handsome checkered walnut grip.
Christie's expects the winning bidder to cough up between $80,600 and $112,840. Hardly an offer you can't refuse. A similar firearm sans the Scarface pedigree would run you a few hundred dollars.
On June 6th, 1944, more than 150,000 Allied troops poured onto the heavily fortified beaches of Normandy, France, in one of the most decisive battles of World War II. The D-Day invasion marked a beginning of the end of the war and the defeat of the Nazi regime in Europe. This particular operation was at a high cost to the Allied forces, with nearly 10,000 troops killed or wounded. Today marks the 67th anniversary of that pivotal operation.
'We didn't have time to fear' - World War II veterans recount what it was like to participate in the invasion of Normandy.
It was a day in China's history that will never be forgotten. June 4, 1989, Chinese troops opened fire on students and protesters in Tiananmen Square. The protests began in April following the death of former Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaobang. Only a handful of people originally showed up to the square in his memory, but as weeks passed hundreds of thousands of people joined the demonstration, which became a mass movement for political reform. The protests remained peaceful until troops opened fire June 4th. The government reported 241 people were killed and 7,000 were wounded. In today's Gotta Watch we remember the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.
China's perfect storm - In 1989 the world watched mainly students and intellectuals protest in Tiananmen Square. CNN's Kristi Lu Stout details the most influential moments of the protests and the mystery that still surrounds the "tank man."
In a bid to recover sunken artifacts – and as an excuse just to say “Aarrrgh” to each other – divers plan an expedition next week off North Carolina to the flagship of famed 18th century pirate Blackbeard.
Blackbeard’s ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, is believed to have run aground in the shallow waters off Beaufort, North Carolina, in 1718. The ship was discovered by excavators in 1996, with piecemeal recovery of artifacts intensifying only a few years ago.
Staff from the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Branch will enter the waters Monday for a two-week mission focused on “conducting a detailed assessment of the main mound to determine strategies for disassembly and recovery,” according to the Queen Anne’s Revenge website.
Mark Wilde-Ramsing, project director for the Queen Anne’s Revenge dive, told WUNC 91.5 the expedition hopes to score a trove of 18th century goods, which then can be used to educate the public and raise awareness of underwater preservation efforts.
He said divers could "hopefully recover a large anchor that is on the main ballast pile. There's a lot of these rock, stones and these anchors, two of them, plus a lot of cannon underneath,” he told 91.5.
Blackbeard, known for his dark, braided facial hair, evidently used a lot of cannons.
An article published in March on the Smithsonian website said the Queen Anne’s Revenge was found to have about 225,000 pieces of lead shot and at least 25 cannons, many of them still loaded.
Romanticized in history books as a notorious ruffian, Blackbeard, born in Britain as Edward Teach, terrorized Atlantic seafarers from the shores of the American colonies to the Caribbean.
The Queen Anne dive is part of a conservation project that has been years in the making. Wilde-Ramsing said divers will try anti-corrosion agents and devices to stop or even reverse years of saltwater decay, according to 91.5.
For more information, see the Queen Anne's Revenge website.
In today's Gotta Watch, we're looking at the awesome power of some of the planet's most active volcanoes. From the easy-to-pronounce Mount St. Helens to another whose name you best not try to utter unless you're sitting down.
Mount St. Helens - On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted, becoming the most destructive volcano in United States history. An earthquake and subsequent landslide triggered a series of eruptions and a massive ash cloud. The blast was reportedly so powerful it was felt as far away as Canada. The eruption claimed the lives of 57 people and injured many more.
Eyjafjallajokull - Often refered to simply as "the Icelandic volcano" due to its tongue twister of a name, Eyjafjallajokull wreaked havoc for international travelers for the better part of a week back in 2010. At its peak, the crisis affected 1.2 million passengers a day and 29 percent of all global aviation, according to the International Air Transport Association, becoming the worst disruption of air traffic since the September 11 terrorist attacks back in 2001.
Merapi - The Merapi volcano's most recent eruption began on October 26, 2010. It killed hundreds of people and displaced more than 200,000. The Indonesian volcano's recent eruptions released about 140 million cubic meters of magma, the National Agency for Disaster Management said.
Mount Vesuvius - Just short of 2,000 years ago, the city of Pompeii was wiped off the map by a historic eruption that buried an entire city in ash. Pompeii is now a major tourist attraction and is considered one of Italy's most important archaeological sites.
Shuttle retirement home – NASA will announce where space shuttles Discovery, Endeavour and Atlantis will spend their retirement years – which could mean millions in tourism revenue. Among the places in the running are Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, New York, Houston, Chicago, Seattle and Dayton, Ohio. Tuesday is the 30th anniversary of the first shuttle launch.
Spaceflight anniversary – Speaking of spaceflight anniversaries, Tuesday marks 50 years since the first time a human entered space. On this date in 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin took a nearly two-hour ride into space and back aboard the Vostok 1 rocket before he and his capsule parachuted safely back to Earth.
Civil War anniversary – And, lest we forget, Tuesday also marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, which began with Confederate forces' pre-dawn shelling of the Union garrison at Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Over the next four years, 600,000 Americans would die and thousands of slaves would go free. But some of the wounds have never healed, as a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll indicates.
Conflict in Libya – The civil war in Libya rages on after rebels seeking to oust leader Moammar Gadhafi rejected an African Union cease-fire proposal. The back-and-forth conflict could lead the country into violent anarchy like Somalia's, Gadhafi's former foreign minister warned in a BBC interview Monday.
Federal budget – In Washington, lawmakers are putting the finishing touches on the budget deal reached last weekend. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama and members of Congress are working on plans for next year's budget, hammering out goals for taxation and spending.
Barry Bonds trial – The jury in former baseball star Barry Bonds' perjury trial enters its third day of deliberations Tuesday. Bonds is accused of lying to a federal grand jury in 2003 about knowingly taking anabolic steroids and getting injections from anyone but his doctors.
The end of Saddam's regime - The video is a look back at the day the Iraqi people pulled down the statue of Saddam Hussein. It happened on April 9, 2003. You can see people cheering and waving flags as they carry bits and pieces of the statue around central Baghdad. Someone even shouts "Goodbye Saddam" as you watch him fall. This symbolized the end of the Iraqi leader's regime.
Workers at an oil sand site in Canada have found a 110 million-year-old fossil of a dinosaur previously unknown in that area, Alberta's Royal Tyrrell Museum announced.
Employees of Suncor Energy, the parent company of Sunoco and PetroCanada, stopped work last week near Fort McMurray, Alberta, when supervisor Michel Gratton and shovel operator Shawn Funk found a large lump of dirt with an unusual texture and diamond patterns.
The news media took note of Monday's anniversary of the nuclear accident at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island power plant, but a partial meltdown at another U.S. reactor seems to have slipped from the public memory.
Fermi 1, a small nuclear reactor south of Detroit, experienced a loss-of-coolant accident in October 1966.
Fermi 1, owned by a consortium of utilities and industrial giants, went into service on leased Detroit Edison land in 1963. It was a prototype fast breeder reactor, meaning it was designed to create more fuel than it consumed.
Today's Gotta Watch video is a potpourri of celebration, history, and architecture.
Nonviolence changes a nation – It was 46 years ago that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led the Selma-to-Montgomery Freedom March. The event went down in history as not only a turning point in the civil rights movement but also one of the most successful acts of nonviolent protests. The event remains relevant today because of its historical significance and because of the many parallels between the movement and today's events in the Middle East, as Nicolaus Mills points out here.
Dutch researchers found the wreck of a World War I German submarine in 2009 but kept the discovery secret until this week, Radio Netherlands Worldwide reported.
The crew of the research ship HNLMS Snellius hoped they'd found a Dutch submarine that disappeared in 1940, but the vessel turned out to be much older. A brass plate indicated the sub was the German U-106, which sank during World War I, the radio report said.
The announcement of the discovery was delayed while German officials confirmed the sub's identity and sought out relatives of crew members, according to the radio report.
A Dutch navy spokesman told Radio Netherlands the U-boat would not be raised but would be designated a war memorial.
Life.com has obtained a set of newly released photos from the personal albums of Eva Braun, Adolf Hitler's longtime girlfriend and, in their final hours, wife.
The photos "reveal new dimensions" of the woman who married Hitler as the Russian army closed in on his Berlin bunker and then committed suicide with him a day later. He was 56. She was 33.
CNN Senior National Editor Dave Schechter has written extensively about World War I veterans. He filed this blog post after learning of the death of the war's last U.S. veteran:
I never met Frank Buckles, the last American veteran of World War I, who died at 110-years-old in his sleep early Sunday at his farm in West Virginia.
Nonetheless, I feel a loss because over the past 20-plus years I was drawn into a small community of people who kept track of the dwindling numbers of American veterans of “The War To End All Wars.”
My professional interest began many years ago when my wife, then a producer at CNN, worked on a project about centenarians and brought home the newspaper of an organization for World War I veterans and their families. On the personal side, my mother’s father trained as a pilot at Kelly Field in Texas but never deployed, while my father’s father served in the American Expeditionary Force in Europe, likely inhaled poison gas and served as the allied military’s legal authority in a sector of Germany (an experience he wrote about for The Sunday New York Times Magazine).
Among those most keenly devoted to the surviving doughboys has been David DeJonge, a portrait photographer from Grand Rapids, Michigan, who devoted countless hours to photographing World War I veterans and bringing attention to their stories. In recent years, DeJonge accompanied Buckles to the White House, the Pentagon, the Capitol and a small, tree-shrouded memorial to the World War I troops from the District of Columbia on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
Others with this particular bent have included a now-retired employee of the Veterans Administration, who patiently answered my questions when it came time for my annual note on the numbers of living veterans from America’s wars; the woman who worked for another federal agency full-time but who, on her own time, ran that organization for WWI veterans until their ranks were reduced to only a few dozen; and the radio producer from Texas, who recorded interviews with several of the last survivors for a public radio special narrated by Walter Cronkite.
DeJonge is among those publicly advocating creation on the National Mall of a national memorial to World War I. Just last week in West Virginia, he announced creation of the National World War I Legacy Project, which will include a documentary DeJonge is producing about Buckles titled “Pershing’s Last Patriot.” Buckles, who enlisted at 16 and saw duty in England, France and Germany, took this cause seriously, wanting recognition not for himself but for all of those who served in that conflict.
I have written before that if we honor those who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam on the National Mall, then similar recognition is due those of the 20th century’s first major war.
After years of decay, at long last the existing monument to the World War I troops from the District of Columbia is being cleaned up. To create a national monument, I’d like to see it expanded, perhaps with figures of soldiers peering over a trench, bayonets fixed and gas masks at the ready, ready to charge over the top.
Unfortunately, Frank Buckles did not live long enough, not even nine decades after the war ended, to see honor properly paid to his comrades. Now that he has passed, let that honor be paid in memory of this patriot.FULL STORY