Feb 03 2011

On This Day in History February 3

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

February 3 is the 34th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 331 days remaining until the end of the year (332 in leap years).

On this day in 1959, “the music died” when rising American rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson are killed when their chartered Beechcraft Bonanza plane crashes in Iowa a few minutes after takeoff from Mason City on a flight headed for Moorehead, Minnesota. Investigators blamed the crash on bad weather and pilot error. Holly and his band, the Crickets, had just scored a No. 1 hit with “That’ll Be the Day.”

After mechanical difficulties with the tour bus, Holly had chartered a plane for his band to fly between stops on the Winter Dance Party Tour. However, Richardson, who had the flu, convinced Holly’s band member Waylon Jennings to give up his seat, and Ritchie Valens won a coin toss for another seat on the plane.


The plane took off at around 12:55 AM Central Time. Just after 1:00 AM Central Time, Mr. Hubert Dwyer, a commercial pilot and owner of the plane, observing from a platform outside the tower, “saw the tail light of the aircraft gradually descend until out of sight.”

Peterson had told Dwyer he would file a flight plan with Air Traffic Control by radio after departure. When he did not call the Air Traffic Control communicator with his flight plan, Dwyer requested that Air Traffic Control continue to attempt to establish radio contact, but all attempts were unsuccessful.

By 3:30 AM, when Hector Airport in Fargo, North Dakota, had not heard from Peterson, Dwyer contacted authorities and reported the aircraft missing.

Around 9:15 AM, Dwyer took off in another small plane to fly Peterson’s intended route. A short time later, he spotted the wreckage in a cornfield belonging to Albert Juhl, about five miles (8 km) northwest of the airport.

The Bonanza was at a slight downward angle and banked to the right when it struck the ground at around 170 miles per hour (270 km/h). The plane tumbled and skidded another 570 feet (170 m) across the frozen landscape before the crumpled ball of wreckage piled against a wire fence at the edge of Juhl’s property. The bodies of Holly and Valens lay near the plane, Richardson was thrown over the fence and into the cornfield of Juhl’s neighbor Oscar Moffett, and the body of Peterson remained entangled inside the plane’s wreckage. Surf Ballroom manager Carroll Anderson, who drove the musicians to the airport and witnessed the plane’s takeoff, made positive identifications of the musicians.

All four had died instantly from “gross trauma” to the brain, the county coroner Ralph Smiley declared. Holly’s death certificate detailed the multiple injuries which show that he surely died on impact:

The body of Charles H. Holley was clothed in an outer jacket of yellow leather-like material in which four seams in the back were split almost full length. The skull was split medially in the forehead and this extended into the vertex region. Approximately half the brain tissue was absent. There was bleeding from both ears, and the face showed multiple lacerations. The consistency of the chest was soft due to extensive crushing injury to the bony structure.[…] Both thighs and legs showed multiple fractures.

Investigators concluded that the crash was due to a combination of poor weather conditions and pilot error. Peterson, working on his Instrument Rating, was still taking flight instrumentation tests and was not yet rated for flight into weather that would have required operation of the aircraft solely by reference to his instruments rather than by means of his own vision. The final Civil Aeronautics Board report noted that Peterson had taken his instrument training on airplanes equipped with an artificial horizon attitude indicator and not the far-less-common Sperry Attitude Gyro on the Bonanza. Critically, the two instruments display the aircraft pitch attitude in the exact opposite manner; therefore, the board thought that this could have caused Peterson to think he was ascending when he was in fact descending. They also found that Peterson was not given adequate warnings about the weather conditions of his route, which, given his known limitations, might have caused him to postpone the flight.

1112 – Ramon Berenguer III of Barcelona and Douce I of Provence marry, uniting the fortunes of those two states.

1377 – More than 2,000 people of the Italian city of Cesena are slaughtered by Papal Troops (Cesena Bloodbath).

1451 – Sultan Mehmed II inherits the throne of the Ottoman Empire.

1488 – Bartolomeu Dias of Portugal lands in Mossel Bay after rounding the Cape of Good Hope, becoming the first known European to travel so far south.

1509 – The Battle of Diu, between Portugal and the Ottoman Empire takes place in Diu, India.

1534 – The Irish rebel Silken Thomas is executed by the order of Henry VIII in London, England.

1637 – Tulip mania collapses in the United Provinces (now the Netherlands) as sellers could no longer find buyers for their bulb contracts.

1690 – The colony of Massachusetts issues the first paper money in America.

1706 – During the Battle of Fraustadt Swedish forces defeat a superior Saxon-Polish-Russian force by deploying a double envelopment.

1781 – American Revolutionary War: British forces seize the Dutch-owned Caribbean island Saint Eustatius.

1783 – American Revolutionary War: Spain recognizes United States independence.

1787 – Shays’ Rebellion is crushed.

1807 – A British military force, under Brigadier-General Sir Samuel Auchmuty captures the city of Montevideo, then part of the Spanish Empire now the capital of Uruguay.

1809 – The Illinois Territory is created.

1813 – The Battle of San Lorenzo takes place. It is the first military action of Jose de San Martin’s cavalry elite unit Granaderos a Caballo at the Argentine War of Independence.

1830 – The sovereignty of Greece is confirmed in a London Protocol.

1834 – Wake Forest University is established.

1852 – The Battle of Caseros marks the end of the hegemony of Buenos Aires Province Governor Juan Manuel de Rosas over the Argentine Confederation.

1867 – Emperor Meiji becomes the 122nd emperor of Japan.

1870 – The Fifteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, guaranteeing voting rights to citizens regardless of race.

1900 – Governor of Kentucky William Goebel dies of wound sustained in an assassination attempt three days earlier in Frankfort, Kentucky.

1913 – The Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified, authorizing the Federal government to impose and collect an income tax.

1916 – Parliament buildings in Ottawa, Canada burn down.

1917 – World War I: The United States breaks off diplomatic relations with Germany a day after the latter announced a new policy of unrestricted submarine warfare.

1918 – The Twin Peaks Tunnel in San Francisco, California begins service as the longest streetcar tunnel in the world at 11,920 feet (3,633 meters) long.

1930 – The Communist Party of Vietnam is established.

1931 – The Hawke’s Bay earthquake, New Zealand’s worst natural disaster, kills 258.

1944 – World War II: During the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign, U.S. Army and Marine forces seize Kwajalein Atoll from the defending Japanese garrison.

1945 – World War II: As part of Operation Thunderclap, 1,000 B-17s of the Eighth Air Force bomb Berlin, a raid which kills between 2,500 to 3,000 and dehouses another 120,000.

1945 – World War II: The United States and the Philippine Commonwealth begin a month-long battle to retake Manila from Japan.

1947 – The lowest temperature in North America is recorded in Snag, Yukon.

1957 – Senegalese political party Democratic Rally merges into the Senegalese Party of Socialist Action (PSAS).

1958 – Founding of the Benelux Economic Union, creating a testing ground for a later European Economic Community.

1959 – A plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa kills Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, and pilot Roger Peterson and the incident becomes known as The Day the Music Died.

1960 – British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan speaks of the “a wind of change” of increasing national consciousness blowing through colonial Africa, signalling that his Government was likely to support decolonisation.

1961 – The United States Air Forces begins Operation Looking Glass, and over the next 30 years, a “Doomsday Plane” was always in the air, with the capability of taking direct control of the United States’ bombers and missiles in the event of the destruction of the SAC’s command post.

1961 – A protest by agricultural workers in Baixa de Cassanje, Portuguese Angola, turns into a revolt, opening the Angolan War of Independence, the first of the Portuguese Colonial Wars.

1966 – The unmanned Soviet Luna 9 spacecraft makes the first controlled rocket-assisted landing on the Moon.

1967 – Ronald Ryan, the last person to be executed in Australia, is hanged in Pentridge Prison, Melbourne.

1969 – In Cairo, Yasser Arafat is appointed Palestine Liberation Organization leader at the Palestinian National Congress.

1971 – New York Police Officer Frank Serpico is shot during a drug bust in Brooklyn and survives to later testify against police corruption. Many believe the incident proves that NYPD officers tried to kill him.

1984 – John Buster and the research team at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center announce history’s first embryo transfer, from one woman to another resulting in a live birth.

1984 – Space Shuttle program: STS-41-B is launched using Space Shuttle Challenger.

1988 – Iran-Contra Affair: The United States House of Representatives rejects President Ronald Reagan’s request for $36.25 million to aid Nicaraguan Contras.

1989 – After a stroke two weeks previous, South African President P. W. Botha resigns as leader of the National Party, but stays on as president for six more months.

1989 – A military coup overthrows Alfredo Stroessner, dictator of Paraguay since 1954.

1995 – Astronaut Eileen Collins becomes the first woman to pilot the Space Shuttle as mission STS-63 gets underway from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

1996 – The Lijiang earthquake in Lijiang, Yunnan, China.

1998 – Karla Faye Tucker is executed in Texas becoming the first woman executed in the United States since 1984.

1998 – Cavalese cable-car disaster: a United States Military pilot causes the death of 20 people when his low-flying plane cuts the cable of a cable-car near Trento, Italy.

2007 – A Baghdad market bombing kills at least 135 people and injures a further 339.

2010 – A cast of the sculpture L’Homme qui marche I by Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti sells for US$103.7 million, setting the record for most expensive sculpture sold at a public auction.

[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/February_3#Holidays_and_observances Holidays and observances

   * Christian Feast Day:

         o Aaron the Illustrious (Syriac Orthodox Church)

         o Ansgar

         o Berlinda of Meerbeke

         o Blaise

         o Celsa and Nona

         o Hadelin

         o Margaret of England

         o Werburgh

         o 3 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

   * Earliest day on which Shrove Tuesday can fall, while March 9 is the latest; celebrated on Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. (Christianity)

   * Four Chaplains Day (United States)

   * Heroes’ Day (Mozambique)

   * Martyrs’ Day (Sao Tome and Principe)

   * Setsubun (Japan)

   * Veterans’ Day (Thailand)


  1. TMC

    Dalai Lama

    The whole purpose of engaging in the practice of patience is to become stronger in mind, stronger in heart.

  2. Translator, aka Dr. David W. Smith

    1690 – The colony of Massachusetts issues the first paper money in America.

    No one thought that it was very good, so silver coins replaced it rapidly.

    Warmest regards,


    By the way, I am having a bit of trouble signing onto a couple of the new sites.  Any assistance would be very much appreciated.  The Kinks is in the can, too!

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