May-20: A Day of New Frontiers
From Charles Lindberg to the Hubble Space Telescope, today is a day marked by boldness to reach what was once unreachable.
Lucky Lindy Leaves for Paris
In 1919, a French hotelier offers a reward of $25,000 for the first aviator to fly New York to Paris. Six well-know aviators had been killed attempting to claim the prize, but on May 20, 1927 Charles Lindbergh took off from New York’s Roosevelt Field and would land in Paris before 150,000 spectators 33.5 hours later. Lindbergh became an international hero, leading one critic to note people were “behaving as though Lindbergh had walked on water, not flown over it.”
Amelia Earhart Takes Off For Ireland
Exactly five years later, Amelia Earhart took off from Newfoundland and landed in Ireland in just under 15 hours becoming the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.
PanAm Launches Transatlantic Service
Seven years later, the first regular air-passenger service across the Atlantic Ocean began with the take-off of the “Yankee Clipper” from Port Washington, New York..
Freedom Riders Beaten in Montgomery
After a perilous journey through Montgomery that saw the bus firebombed in Anniston and riders beaten by a mob led by local police in Birmingham, Attorney General Bobby Kennedy sent his assistant John Seigenthaler to Alabama to try to calm the situation. The Freedom Riders received a police escort as they rode to Montgomery, but were abandoned as they reached the city limit and faced a mob at the bus station armed with baseball bats and iron pipes.
From Wikipedia: “white Freedom Riders were singled out for particularly brutal beatings. Reporters and news photographers were attacked first and their cameras destroyed, but one reporter took a photo later of Jim Zwerg in the hospital, showing how he was beaten and bruised Seigenthaler, a Justice Department official, was beaten and left unconscious lying in the street. Ambulances refused to take the wounded to the hospital. Local blacks rescued them, and a number of the Freedom Riders were hospitalized.”
The next night, Ralph Abernathy and Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at a service honoring the Freedom Riders. Their church was soon surrounded by a mob of 3,000 leading to a tense standoff that lasted late into the night until Alabama’s Governor (under pressure from Washington)0 called out the National Guard to disperse the crowd.
Hubble’s First Images
Thirty-six days after taking off aboard the space shuttle Discover, the Hubble Space Telescope relayed its first images.