Year
1919

First transcontinental air race

The first transcontinental air race in the United States begins, with 63 planes competing in the round-trip aerial derby between California and New York. As 15 planes departed the Presidio in San Francisco, California, 48 planes left Roosevelt Field on Long Island, New York.

Lieutenant Belvin Maynard, flying a Havilland-4 with a Liberty motor, won the 5,400-mile race across the continent and back. Maynard reached the Presidio in just over three days, rested and serviced his plane for another three days, and then returned to Roosevelt Field in just under four days. Maynard won for the lowest total elapsed time, but in actual flight time–24 hours, 59 minutes, and 49 seconds–three others accomplished the round-trip journey faster.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Massive earthquake hits Kashmir region

On this day in 2005, a massive 7.6-magnitude earthquake strikes the Kashmir border region between India and Pakistan. An estimated 70,000 people—nearly half of them children—were killed and 70,000 more were injured. More than 3 million were left homeless and without food and ...read more

Che Guevara defeated

A Bolivian guerrilla force led by Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara is defeated in a skirmish with a special detachment of the Bolivian army. Guevara was wounded, captured, and executed the next day.Born in Argentina, Guevara believed that a man of action could revolutionize a ...read more

Great Chicago Fire begins

On this day in 1871, flames spark in the Chicago barn of Patrick and Catherine O’Leary, igniting a two-day blaze that kills between 200 and 300 people, destroys 17,450 buildings, leaves 100,000 homeless and causes an estimated $200 million (in 1871 dollars; $3 billion in 2007 ...read more

Possible breakthrough at Paris peace talks

Rumors arise that there is a breakthrough in the secret talks that had been going on in a villa outside Paris since August 1969. Henry Kissinger, President Richard Nixon’s national security advisor, and North Vietnamese negotiators conducted the peace talks. Le Duc Tho, who had ...read more

Communists reject Nixon’s peace proposal

The Communist delegation in Paris rejects President Richard Nixon’s October 7 proposal as “a maneuver to deceive world opinion.” Nixon had announced five-point proposal to end the war, based on a “standstill” cease-fire in place in South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. He proposed ...read more

Don Larsen is perfect in World Series

On October 8, 1956, New York Yankees right-hander Don Larsen pitches the first no-hitter in the history of the World Series. Even better, it was a perfect game–that is, there were no runs, no hits and no errors, and no batter reached first base. Larsen’s performance anchored his ...read more

The Great Fire destroys much of Chicago

On this night in 1871, fire breaks out in a barn behind the Chicago cottage of Patrick O’Leary. Winds blowing off the prairie fed the flames, and the fire spread rapidly, eventually consuming a four-mile-long and two-third-mile-wide swath of Chicago. When the Great Fire was ...read more

Lord Peter Wimsey marries Harriet Vane

Fictional detective Lord Peter Wimsey finally marries Harriet Vane, a prickly mystery writer he has pursued through several novels, on this day in 1937 in the novel Busman’s Honeymoon. The novel, by Dorothy Sayers, was one of the last featuring the two English sleuths.Sayers, ...read more

Matt Damon born

On this day in 1970, Matt Damon, the future star of a long list of hit movies, including Good Will Hunting, Saving Private Ryan and The Bourne Identity, is born in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Damon, who attended Harvard University but left before graduating to pursue an acting ...read more

Fire rips through Chicago

The Great Chicago Fire begins on this day in 1871. It goes on to kill 250 people, leave 100,000 people homeless and destroy thousands of buildings. All told, the fire was responsible for an estimated $200 million in damages (more than $3 billion in today’s money), approximately ...read more

Battle of Perryville

The Confederate invasion of Kentucky stalls when Union General Don Carlos Buell stops General Braxton Bragg at the Battle of Perryville. In August 1862, two Confederate forces, commanded by Bragg and General Edmund Kirby Smith, entered Kentucky. The Rebels hoped to raise troops ...read more