1. 1492: Christopher Columbus sets sail
It was on this day in 1492 the Italian-born explorer Christopher Columbus set sail in command of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria from Spain. The purpose of the expedition was to find a western sear route to to the spice islands in Asia, China and India. Roughly two months later, the expedition spotted land and they assumed they had reached their destination so they went ashore and claimed it for Spain. It turns out they were most likely on one of the islands in the Bahamas. Shortly thereafter while out exploring, Columbus spotted another land mass he was certain was mainland China but ended up being Cuba. They also landed on Hispaniola thinking they had reached Japan. Columbus established a small colony with his 39 men during the time spent in this area. In march of 1493, the group returned to Spain with all kinds of riches from these islands; spices, gold, and even the “Indian” captives, and received a heroes welcome. Over his lifetime, Columbus had many exploring adventures, but he never achieved his goal of finding a new western ocean route to the spice islands.
2. 1958: U.S. nuclear submarine travels under the North Pole
The USS Nautilus traveled under the North Pole on this date in 1958. This was the first time any undersea voyage of this magnitude had ever taken place. The mission began roughly 1,000 miles away in Point Barrow, Alaska where the Nautilus submerged and traveled the entire distance. Being that it was the first nuclear powered submarine in the U.S., it could travel much farther distances. When the Nautilus reached the top of the world, it continued on where it reached Iceland, and in doing so they found a shorter route from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, and therefore Europe. First Lady Mamie Eisenhower performed the launching ceremony, where a bottle of champagne is smashed over the bow, on January 21, 1954. The nuclear powered sub was significantly larger than the previous diesel-electric models, the Nautilus stretched almost 320 feet long. It had a long lifespan, nearly 25 years and 500,000 miles before it was decommissioned in March of 1980.
3. 1977: James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me” released in America
It was on this date in 1977 that the James Bond film “The Spy Who Loved Me” is released in theaters all over the United States. This was the 10th installment in the Bond series and it starred Rodger Moore as 007. The film had been released in London almost a month earlier and it did quite well. Another one of the stars of this particular film was the Lotus Esprit sports car that had the ability of turning into a submarine! Although Moore has been referred to as the least popular actor to play the world renowned super spy. Sean Connery was the first to play the character and there have been many others since. Most of the key features in almost every Bond film are present here as well, beautiful women, fast cars, all kinds of spy gadgets and plenty of shootouts. The movie was shot on location in Italy, Egypt and even Nassau in the Bahamas for the underwater scenes. A massive sound stage was built at the Pinewood Studios that resembled the interior of a supertanker. With a fairly small budget of $14 million to make the movie, it was a major success in the box office as it pulled in over $185 million.