Important Anniversaries in the next week have been the subject of previous Items of the Week. To find them, CHECK THEM OUT (AGAIN) HERE.

Wednesday, June 12, is the 45th anniversary of the first human-powered flight across the English Channel, the subject of this week’s Item, see above. 

Friday, June 14, is the 105th anniversary of the first flight non-stop flight across the Atlantic, by Alcock and Brown in a Vickers Vimy bomber. For info on the first flight across the Atlantic, with stops, see here.

Saturday, June 15, is the 103rd anniversary of Bessie Coleman obtaining her pilot license; she was the first Black woman to do so. And…

Sunday, June 16, is the 61st anniversary of Valentina Tereshkova becoming the first woman to fly in Space. For more on Bessie’s and Valentina’s accomplishments, see here

Sunday, June 16, is also the 47th anniversary of the passing of Wernher von Braun, the lead of the German team that developed the V-2 rocket in WWII, and who played an instrumental role in the development of the Apollo program and its promotion. For more about him, and the engineers he brought to American with him under “Operation Paperclip,” see here.

Air and Space This Week

June 10, 2024 – June 16, 2024


Anniversaries: The 45th of the first human-powered flight cross the English Channel (6/12); 80th of Joe Nuxhall becoming the youngest MLB pitcher (at 15! 6/10) and of the first V-1 cruise missile attacks on London (6/13); 85th of the founding of the MLB Hall of Fame in Cooperstown (6/12 – on the 100th anniversary of the invention of Baseball); 105th of the first non-stop Atlantic flight (6/14); and the 170th of Riemann’s proposal that Space is curved, an idea that greatly influenced Albert Einstein later (6/10)

Birthdays: Comedic actor Jim Varney would have been 75 (6/15), and composer Richard Strauss (6/11) and psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer (6/14) would have been 160

In the Sky: The Moon reaches First Quarter at 1:18 AM EDT on Friday, June 14

Monday, June 10

Today in Air and Space History

1854: G.F. Bernhard Riemann proposed that space is curved, not flat (Euclidean). Einstein based his 1915 work on general relativity on Riemann's concepts.

Other Events this Date: Windowed envelope patented (1902), Alcoholics Anonymous founded (1935), Joe “The Old Lefthander” Nuxhall pitched for Cincinnati Reds at age 15 years, 10 months, and 11 days, the youngest ever to pitch in the Majors (1944)

Today’s Birthdays: Actors Hattie McDaniel (1895) and Judy Garland (1922), and astronaut James McDivitt (1929)

Tuesday, June 11

Today in Air and Space History

1926: First test flight of the Ford 4-AT "Tri-Motor" passenger plane.

1985: Vega 1, en route to Halley's Comet, dropped a landing probe and an instrumented balloon at Venus.

Other Events this Date: Barnstormer Silas Christofferson took off from the roof of Portland’s Multnomah Hotel (1912)

Today’s Birthdays: Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001 Theme) composer Richard Strauss (1864), first female US congressperson Jeannette Rankin (1880), explorer Jacques Cousteau (1910), Peter Gunn jazz drummer Shelly Manne (1920), actor Gene Wilder (1933), and quarterback Joe Montana (1956)

Wednesday, June 12

Today in Air and Space History

1967: Launch of Venera 4, a successful probe of the upper venusian atmosphere, by the Soviet Union.

1979: Bryan Allen piloted/pedaled the Gossamer Albatross on the first human-powered flight over the English Channel, winning the Collier Trophy.

Other Events this Date: Abner Doubleday invented baseball, Baseball Hall of Fame founded, in Cooperstown, NY (1839, 1939, respectively)

Today’s Birthdays: Disaster flick producer Irwin Allen and Flipper producer Ivan Tors (1916), actor Jim “Gomer Pyle” Nabors (1930), jazzman Chick Corea (1941), The Troggs vocalist Reg Presley (1945), and Boston guitarist Brad Delp (1951)

Thursday, June 13

Today in Air and Space History

1942: First test firing (unsuccessful) of the A-4 missile (precursor to the V-2), at Peenemunde.

1944: V-1 cruise missile attacks against England began.

Other Events this Date: Improved wire recorder patented (1944), U.S. Supreme Court issued the Miranda decision (1966)

Today’s Birthdays: Poet William Butler Yeats (1865), actor Basil Rathbone (1892), footballer Red Grange (1903), comedian Paul Lynde (1926), large-scale artist Christo (1935), Dr. Hook guitarist Dennis Locorriere (1949), and actor Richard Thomas (1951)

Friday, June 14

Today in Air and Space History

1919: First non-stop trans-Atlantic flight, made by UK pilots Alcock and Brown, in a modified Vickers Vimy bomber.

1967: Launch of Mariner 5, a successful Venus fly-by mission.

1975: Launch of Venera 10, a successful Venus lander.

Other Events this Date: The U.S. Army was established by Congressional resolution (1775), the first Flag Day was observed (1777), the player piano was patented (1881)

Today’s Birthdays: Author Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811), psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer (1864), photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White (1904), singer Burl Ives (1909), actor Gene Barry (1921), Zombies keyboardist Rod Argent (1945), Yes drummer Alan White (1949), and speed skater Eric Heiden (1958)

In the Sky: The Moon reaches First Quarter at 1:18 AM EDT

Saturday, June 15

Today in Air and Space History

1921: Bessie Coleman became the first African-American of either gender to earn a pilot's license.

1943: First flight of the first operational jet bomber, the Arado Ar-234V-1 "Blitz."

1963: Launch of Vostok 5, the 5th crewed mission of the Soviet Union. Its 81-orbit mission lasted 5 days, much less than planned.

Other Events this Date: King John signed the Magna Carta at Runnymede (1215), Ben Franklin conducted his famous kite-in-a-thunderstorm experiment (1752), Louisiana was admitted to Union as 25th State (1836), vulcanized rubber was patented by Charles Goodyear (1844), John Vander Meer pitched the only back-to-back no-hitters in baseball history (1938), John Lennon met Paul McCartney and invited him to join The Quarrymen (1956), a cloudburst actually rained out a baseball game at the roofed Astrodome (the parking lot and surrounding area flooded, 1976), Philippine volcano Mt. Pinatubo exploded (1991)

Today’s Birthdays: Composer Edvard Grieg (1843), singer Waylon Jennings (1937), and actors Jim Varney (1949) and Helen Hunt (1963)

Sunday, June 16

Today in Air and Space History

1963: Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in Space, on Vostok 6.

1977:Werner von Braun died, at age 65. He led the teams that built the German V-2 missile, the Saturn VMoonrocket, and others.

Other Events This Date: Glen Hammond Curtiss’ first airplane sale (1909); flight of first helicopter prototype (Henry Berliner, College Park, MD (1922); Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps released Be-Bop-A-Lula (1956); the famed Monterrey International Pop Festival opened (guitars, beware! 1967)

Today’s Birthdays: Comedian Stan Laurel (1890), author John Griffin (1920), country singer “Crash” Craddock (1939), O’Jays vocalist Eddie Levert (1942), and boxer Roberto Duran (1951)


Anniversaries: The 70th anniversary of the first test flight of the Douglass A-4 Skyhawk Naval attack aircraft and the 80th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Philippine Sea (6/19)

Birthdays: Actresses Meryl Streep and Lindsay Wagner are 75 (6/22); heroic Audie Murphey would have been 100 (6/20); and writer John Hersey (6/17) and actor E.G. Marshall (6/18) would have been 110.

In the Sky: Full Moon occurs at 9:08 PM EDT on Friday, June 21 (aka the “Strawberry Moon”)


Imagine what a dinner party might be like if all of the people listed in the A+StW database for any specific date could attend, in their prime. 

6/10: Hattie and Judy and Jim, oh my.

6/11: I’d love to watch 2001: A Space Odyssey with Strauss – my pick this week!

6/12: Irwin Allen and Ivan Tors – Journey to the Bottom of Flipper’s lagoon

6/13: Rathbone and Lynde’ rendition of “Who’s on First” was kinda lame last time…

6/14: An interestingly-diverse dinner party group

6/15: Nah

6/16: Mo mas

What date would you choose?


One: Here’s an A+StW musical note. I did an outreach piece for NASA called “The Moon in Song” (here) more than a decade ago, and I still keep track of Astronomically-related music. There’s LOTS of music out about the Moon and the Sun, but other astronomical objects, not so much. One counter-example is the classic jazz fusion album “Cloud About Mercury,” released in 1987. It’s the second album by guitarist David Torn, and one of the featured musicians on this album was bassist Tony Levin, who turned 78 last week but is still going strong!

Two: Walt Disney always denied that he named Mickey’s dog, Pluto, after the ex-Planet, even though Pluto the dog debuted about a year after Clyde Tombaugh’s discovery of Pluto the former planet. One of Disney’s animators confirmed the obvious late in his life; the dwarf planet was, in fact, the namesake for Pluto the cartoon dog. Disney capitalized on the interest in the new planet in a cute, and lucrative, way.

Here’s another piece of evidence the ol’ Walt liked to include popular culture in his cartoons, should you think it necessary to be convinced. The Dionne Quintuplets were born on May 28, 1934. They created quite a stir in the popular media, especially then, when fertility drugs and IVF (which leads to more multiple births) were unknown, and that all five of the preemies survived. The Disney folks didn’t miss capitalizing on the public interest in the Quints, just like they did with the new planet; Pluto the dog acquired a wife (FiFi) and they had five pups, documented in the cartoon, Pluto’s Quin-Puplets, released in 1937!