1. 1985: Titanic wreckage found
About 400 miles of the coast of Newfoundland, a joint expedition between the French and United States located the lost wreckage of the Titanic on this date in 1985. The Wreckage was found roughly 73 years after it stuck and iceberg and sank to the bottom of the ocean. The expedition was lead by American Robert Ballard, who with the help of an experimental unmanned submersible that went by the name Argo, stumbled upon one of the Titanic’s massive boilers at nearly 13,000 feet below the surface. The Argo was developed by the U.S. Navy to to handle the pressure levels experienced in incredibly deep water. It was able to take photographs and send them topside to the research vessel above known as Knorr. The wreckage was explored by both maned and unmanned submersibles that helped researchers get a better understanding on exactly what happened that night back in 1912.
2. 1983: Korean Airline Flight 007 shot down
It was on this date in 1983 that Korean Airlines flight 007 (KAL 007) was on its last leg of a flight from New York City to Seoul when it apparently veered off course by almost 200 miles. It was never determined exactly what caused the plane to go that far off its designed path. During this time the plane had crossed into Russian airspace, specifically over the Kamchatka Peninsula that was known for having top secret military installations. This of course was a major cause of concern for the Soviets and they sent up two fighter planes to intercept the unidentified aircraft. It was reported that they fighter pilots attempted to reach the passenger plane but were unsuccessful. Shortly there after one of the fighter pilots fired a heat-seeking missile which was a direct hit and KAL 007 plummeted into the Sea of Japan. It was reported that there were a total of 269 casualties with no survivors. The fighter pilots claimed they couldn’t tell it was a passenger plane but the United States and the rest of the world didn’t buy it. President Reagan went as far as to call the horrific event a “massacre”.
3. 1998: Law passes making airbags mandatory in automobiles
It was on this date in the 1998 that the law went into affect requiring all light trucks and automobiles sold in the United States to be equipped with airbags on the driver and passenger front seats. They called it the Intermodal Surface and Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991. It was determined that an airbag would reduce the risk of major head trauma, or even death, in a head-on collision by at least 30 percent. Originally based off the inflatable protective covers for torpedoes used by the United States Navy, the “safety cushion assembly for automotive vehicles” was actually invented by John Hetrick in 1953. Hetrick was an industrial engineering technician from Pennsylvania and the following year he would take his invention to major auto manufacturers such as Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, but none of them would give him any sort of response. It wasn’t until the early 1970’s that GM and Ford started installing airbags in a few of its models. Many people felt that the airbags were more dangerous than the accident itself because they were relying solely on the airbag and not wearing a seat belt. In 1973, that changed when a study came out showing that the use of a three point seatbelt (both a shoulder strap and belt strap seen in almost every car made today) with the use of an airbag saved many lives. Most cars that have been made in the last 20 years will have both airbags and the three point seatbelt as standard equipment. Some high end luxury cars even have airbags that will come out from almost every direction, essentially wrapping you in an airbag, heaven forbid you were to get in an accident.