1. 1997: The legendary John Denver passes away
America lost a talented singer/songwriter on this date in 1997 when the legendary John Denver passed away. Not only was he one of the top selling artists of the 1970’s, but he also had a passion for flying, recording over 2,700 hours in various aircrafts. However, this particular day he was piloting a Long-EZ aircraft, which he was less familiar with and had troubles with in the past. He was a couple hundred feet over Monterey Bay when he lost control, causing the fatal crash.
Denver had numerous #1 hits such as “Sunshine on My Shoulders” and “Thank God I’m A Country Boy”. Throughout his career, Denver sold more than 32 million albums just in the United States.
2. 1964: First crew of men sent into space
It was on this date in 1964 that the Soviet Union sent the first multi-person crew into space using the Voskhod 1. This was a significant jump in the “space race” with the United States, as it was almost a full year before the Americans sent more than one man into orbit. This was also the first mission in which the cosmonauts weren’t using space suits, and the reason for this was because they didn’t have room in the capsule. The three men, Konstantine Feoktistov, Boris Yegorov, and Vladimir Komarov, were crammed in like sardines for the journey and there just simply wasn’t room for the suits. This ended up being a bad idea because all of the men suffered from “Space Sickness” which is like altitude sickness, just much worse.
3. 1940: Silent film superstar Tom Mix has fatal car accident
Tom Mix was one of the most successful and highest paid actors of the silent film era. He was usually cast in westerns as the macho tough guy, and most of that was based on his real-life experience. Prior to becoming an actor, Mix was a Texas Ranger in Kansas, and also fought in the Spanish-American War and Boer War. So when he played these macho roles, he was able to bring a level of realism unlike any other actor at the time. On this date in 1940, Mix was driving his Cord Phaeton near his ranch in Arizona when he lost control of the luxurious vehicle and rolled into a dry wash off the side of the road. He had apparently not seen the warning signs that indicated one of the upcoming bridges was out. There’s an odd twist to the story at this point, according to reports it wasn’t so much the crash that caused the fatal blow but one of his large metal suitcases striking him in the back of the head. The so-called “suitcase of death” is currently on display at the Tom Mix museum in Dewey, Oklahoma.