1939 – Amelia Earhart officially declared missing

Amelia Mary Earhart was the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross, which she was awarded as the first aviatrix to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. She also set numerous other aviation records and wrote best-selling books about her flying experiences. She was was a pioneer for womenin aviation, and by extension, in other professions as well.

At the height of her fame, Earhart disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean in the vicinity of Howland Island. This disappearance occured during an attempt to make a circumnavigational flight of the globe in 1937, and has led to any number of theories as its cause. Earhart continues to inspire fascination and admiration, both for her life and career, and for her disappearance.

Referenced in:
Amelia Earhart – Freakwater
Someday We’ll Know – New Radicals
In Search of Amelia Earhart – Plainsong
True Story Of Amelia Earhart – Plainsong
Amelia Earhart’s Last Ride – Anne Feeney
Amelia Earhart’s Last Flight – Red River Dave

1979 – Charles Mingus dies

An accomplished bassist, pianist and bandleader, Charles Mingus is perhaps best-remembered today for his work as a composer. Between 1943 and his death in 1979, he composed and arranged numerous influential works of jazz – his final composition, Epitath, was appropriately never performed until after his death.

Mingus was a perfectionist, especially as a bandleader, and was notorious for his temper – he was widely known as ‘the Angry Man of Jazz‘ – but most of the musicians he worked with agreed that his perfectionism most often brought out the best in their performances.

Referenced in:
Woke Up This Morning – Alabama 3

1981 — “The Great Space Coaster” is first broadcast

A children’s television show created by Kermit Love (who had previously worked with Jim Henson on The Muppets) and Jim Martin (who would later work with Henson on Sesame Street), The Great Space Coaster ran for five seasons and had a total of 250 episodes. As you might suspect from the creators, it used a lot of puppetry.

The central premise of the show was that three singers – Francine, Danny, and Roy – traveled to an asteroid (on board, of course, the Great Space Coaster) which was inhabited by a wide variety of alien lifeforms, most of them puppets. Being a kid’s show, it features lots of songs and moral lessons, and the occasional celebrity guest star.

Referenced in:

Bug Powder Dust — Bomb The Bass

1993 – The MV Braer runs aground in the Shetlands

Two days prior to the spill, the MV Braer had suffered contamination of its fuel by sea water after cracks in the fuel lines had former. In the early morning of January 5, the contamination became so great that the engine could no longer function. Dead in the water, the 242 metre long oil tanker, laden with 85,000 tonnes of Gulfaks crude oil, was at the mercy of the elements. And the elements were not feeling merciful.

The winds were blowing between Force 10 and 11 that night (a range from 89-117 kmh, or 55-73 mph), driving the now uncontrollable tanker towards the rocks of Sumbergh Heads. In the event, she ran aground at Garths Ness, and although a great amount of oil leaked out, the combination of the violence of the storm and the nature of the oil (Gulfaks is unusually biodegradable) dispersed the oil more quickly that might otherwise have been the case. The environmental toll was still vast and preventable, but it would only have been worse had the oil not been Gulfaks. A small mercy, perhaps, but a mercy just the same.

Referenced in:
The Islands — Fairport Convention