Peoples Temple founder Jim Jones on November 18th, 1978 organizes his flock to commit mass murder-suicide in a secluded part of the South American nation of Guyana at their agricultural commune. Many of the followers were forced to ingest poison-laced punch at gunpoint or did so willingly. The recorded loss of life was 909 and one third of them were children.The 1950s gave rise to the Peoples Temple of Indianapolis which was a Christian sect led by a charismatic churchman named Jim Jones. He was able to attract African Americans due to his preaching’s against racism. Jones and his integrated congregation traveled to Ukiah in Northern California in 1965 and once again to San Francisco in 1971. During this time, accusations surfaced within the media that the church mistreated children, financial fraud and its members being physically abused. Jones was forced by the increasing criticism and his paranoia to invite his congregation to relocate to Guyana so they could create a socialist utopia. A small group of his followers journeyed to the small nation three years prior to a tract of jungle that would become Jonestown. Unfortunately, their so-called paradise that was promised turned out to be untrue as members were severely disciplined for questioning their leader’s authority and worked out in the fields for most of the day. Members were persuaded to tell on one another, passports were hidden, late-night meetings had to be attended and letters being sent home were censored. Jones had reached a point where he assumed others as well as the U.S. government were out to get him as a result of his dependency on drugs and a deteriorating mental state. Temple members at night were expected to be a part of mock suicide drills.U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan was persuaded by worried relatives and former members to go to Jonestown and investigate in 1978. The Californian Democrat landed with observers and journalists on November 17th, 1978. Although the trip went well, several residents of Jonestown approached the group the next day to ask if they could leave Guyana with them. Upset over the defection from some of his members, a lieutenant of Jones used a knife to attack the congressman. While Ryan escaped unharmed, Jones ordered that Ryan and his group should be killed before they could leave. The congressman and four other were victims of a surprise attack while attempting to board their planes; all of them were murdered.Meanwhile, Jones ordered everyone in Jonestown to meet in the main pavilion and perform what he said was a “revolutionary act.” The Peoples Temple’s children were first to perish as nurses and parents took syringes to drop a lethal mix of powdered juice, cyanide and sedatives into their throats. Armed guards protected the pavilion while adults took turns in consuming the lethal concoction.Hundreds of bodies were found carpeted inside the structure when the next day Guyanese arrived to investigate. Although a majority was discovered with their arms around each other as they perished, some residents escaped into the jungle while the suicides were happening. Also, several dozens of Peoples Temple’s members and several sons on Jones’ survived because they were somewhere else in Guyana during the suicides.
On this day in 1974, Muhammad Ali aged 32, becomes, for the second time, the world heavyweight champion after knocking out 25-year-old champion George Foreman in the eighth round of the fight named "Rumble in the Jungle" in Kinshasa, Zaire. Ali who had lost his title seven years before after he was accused by the government for draft-dodging, which led to the withdrawer of his license by the boxing commission. Muhammad Ali became the second dethroned champion in the history of boxing to reclaim the title following his victory in Zaire. Don King who was the show promoter had initially named the fight "From the Slave Ship to the Championship!" However, the title had to be changed when the President of Zaire Mobutu Sese Seko, believed the title had another hidden meaning and then ordered that all flyers and banners be burned. In addition, the heavyweight championship match was the first of its kind on Africa soil. It was reported that the government of West African republic staged the event, while the President of Zaire paid each fighter $5 dollar for honoring the call. The move was part of the plot to display the nation's rich culture and heritage to the rest of the world. In Ali's words, "I agreed because I wanted to establish a keen relationship between black Americans and Africans," he also added, "personally, I believed the fight was more about racism, Vietnam, and the likes". He stated further, "the fight, Rumble in the Jungle made the whole country more conscious."The organizers of the fight timed the fight to correspond with the time in the U.S. and exactly 4:30 in the morning of October 30, more than 60, 000 spectators gathered in the moonlight at the Stade du 20 Mai to watch the fight. The crowd were heard shouting in their local dialect "Ali, bomaye" meaning "Ali, kill him". Ali who had been provoking Foreman for several weeks, while the young champ was excited to beat the hell out of the ex-champ. As soon as the bell rang, Foreman started punching Ali with his famous sledgehammer blows, Ali leans against the rope and tactically block as many as he could, believing that he would wear Foreman out.Not long into the fifth round, the young champion was getting tired; all his sledgehammer punches became weak and vague. By the eighth round, a hard left punch caused Foreman to lose his grip and fell flat on the ring. He was counted out by the referee in just two seconds to go in the round.Muhammad Ali retired in 1981 after regaining the title once more. While Foreman on the other hand, retired in 1977 but kept training making him to become the oldest heavyweight champion in the history of boxing.
Aerosmith were having an upcoming tour in 1977 and needed an airlift to fly them to their destinations. They considered chartering a Convair 240 which was operated out of Addison, Texas. However, the members decided to look elsewhere after finding out that there were some questionable concerns regarding the airplane’s flight crew. This saved them from a serious injury. Their stroke of luck however became a sad fate for another band. On October 20, 1977, members of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd boarded the said Convair 240 in question. It was supposed to have been a flight from Greenville, South Carolina to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but the airplane crashed in a wooded area of southeastern Mississippi instead. The pilot failed to make a successful emergency landing, killing three band members – Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and Cassie Gaines – along with their assistant road manager in the process. The pilot and co-pilot were also part of the casualty while the twenty others were able to survive the crash. The members Ronnie Van Zant, Bob Burns, Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, and Larry Junstrom originally made up the Lynyrd Skynyrd band. They were first known as the “My Backyard” in 1964, having met as teenagers in Jacksonville, Florida. They were known for several other names, and through this transition stage, were able to develop their own kind of melody from 1960s to early 1970s. Finally in 1973, they were able to claim national recognition, the same time that they adopted the name “Lynyrd Skynyrd”. According to the band, the name was a mocking tribute to their high school teacher named Leonard Skinner, whom they considered a nemesis because he strictly enforced the school’s policy against long hair during their high school years (they became friendly in the later years). Their debut album, (pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd), became a major hit. It contained one of the most joked-about rock songs of all time, Free Bird. The band was recognized as a giant in the southern rock subgenre after the release of their next album Second Helping in 1974. One of its singles, the Sweet Home Alabama, was a bigger hit compared to Free Bird.Their band came to include backup singer Cassie Gaines and her guitarist brother, Steve during the release of their fifth album Street Survivors on October 17, 1977. Just like their first and second albums, this was received well by the public, earning them a double platinum. When everyone thought that they were on the rise, tragedy struck three days later. The Convair 240 was up 6,000ft on its way to Baton Rouge when it ran out of fuel. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the plane’s crew was responsible for the said accident. Their accident report showed that the pilot radioed Houston air-traffic control and asked for directions to the nearest airfield. The pilot was in distress because they were running low on fuel by 6:42PM and pleaded for help, but unfortunately, assistance was not given on time and they crashed approximately just 13 minutes later.
The first day of the Yom Kippur war was on October 6th of 1973.Also known as the 1973 Arab Israeli war, the Yom Kippur war started when Egyptian and Syrian forces launched a coordinated attack on Israel during Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. This took the Israeli Defense forces completely by surprise, and some of the Israeli soldiers had vacated, as posts in observance of Yom Kippur. What's more, that year, Yom Kippur coincided with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Most of the fighting during the Yom Kippur war had taken place on the Sinai and Golan Heights. These territories had been occupied by Israel since the Six Day War of 1967. Armed hostilities continued thereafter, and eventually escalated to the War of Attrition, which was an attempt to wear down the Israeli position by way of long term pressure. Just as the lid of the international pressure cooker was ready to pop, a ceasefire was signed in August of 1970. Only about a month later, in September of 1970, Egyptian President Gamar Abdel Nasser died, and Anwar Sadat succeeded him as the President of Egypt.The Yom Kippur war was part of the ongoing (forever, it seems) Arab Israeli conflict, which led to many battles since 1948, the year of the founding of Israel. During the six-day war of 1967, which the other side had started, Israel had captured the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, as well as about half of Syria's Golan Heights. These West Bank territories had been held by Jordan since 1948. The Yom Kippur war was an attempt by Egypt and Syria to get the land back.The United States and the Soviet Union began massive resupply efforts to their respective allies, bringing the Yom Kippur war to the brink of nuclear disaster.The intention of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was to reopen the Suez Canal. In fact, the 1973 Yom Kippur war had started with the crossing of the Suez Canal by many thousand Egyptian troops. Both Syrian and Egyptian forces had crossed ceasefire lines to infiltrate the Sinai Peninsula.Neither the Syrians nor the Egyptians actually planned to destroy Israel, but the people of Israel were not convinced of their intentions. Israel fought back ferociously for about for nineteen days, pushing the Syrian forces back behind the lines of ceasefire. Sadat ordered Egyptian soldiers to go back to the offensive position, but the Egyptians were swiftly repelled.The Israelis then counter attacked at the seam between two Egyptian armies, crossed the Suez Canal into Egypt, and slowly advanced to the city of Suez. It took the Israelis about a week to do this, causing much bloodshed on both sides of the military equation. The battle went on until October 25th, when Israel finally emerged victorious.In response to a United Nations inquiry, the Syrians and the Egyptians blamed each other for crossing ceasefire lines to begin with. At later peace talks, Israel basically agreed to return the land in exchange for peaceful relations.
On September 17th of 1976, the world got its first look at the first Space Shuttle, as NASA unveiled its hot new creation at an Air Force base in Palmdale, California. The ship was called Enterprise, after many hundred thousand die hard Star Trek fans (pop culturally known as trekkies) wrote to President Gerald Ford, requesting the name change. The shuttle's former name was Constitution. On hand at the ceremony were all the NASA CEOs, along with most of the cast of the immortal TV show called Star Trek. Cast members who joined the festivities included Leonard Nimoy (Mr. Spock), deForest Kelly (Dr. McCoy), Nichelle Nichols (Lieutenant Uhura), James Doohan (Chief Engineer Montgomery “Scotty” Scott), George Takei (Mr. Sulu), and Walter Koenig (Ensign Chekov). Even Gene Roddenbury, the show's creator, was there. The only major cast member missing the fun was William Shatner (Captain James T. Kirk). This first space shuttle was not really meant for space travel. It was more of a prototype than anything else. For instance, the exterior covering was made of fiberglass, which would not sufficiently withstand the conditions in space. Also, the ship was never outfitted with the equipment needed for it to be able to orbit the earth. For instance, a lack of two main engines. However, Enterprise was the precursor to other space shuttles of similar design. And the Enterprise space shuttle would fly free when it was released from a Boeing 747 jet, then it would glide in for a safe, soft landing back at Edwards Air Force base.Over the following year, NASA engineers put the Enterprise through a series of flight tests and ground tests, to demonstrate its airworthiness and landing capabilities. Five space ready orbiters were subsequently developed: The Columbia in 1979, the Challenger in 1982, the Discovery in 1983, the Atlantis in 1985, and the Endeavor in 1991. Early space shuttles carried equipment into space and ran various scientific experiments. Later, manned space shuttles traveled into space to maintain and repair the Hubble Space Telescope, and also to build and maintain the International Space Station (ISS).The Columbia space shuttle exploded near the end of its 28th journey, in a reentry accident that happened on February 1st of 2003. The Challenger space shuttle blew up just over a minute after take-off in January of 1986. In both cases, all seven people onboard were killed.Between 1978 and 1985, the Enterprise was taken around the country to assorted NASA space centers, where it served as a useful practice tool. In 1983, the Enterprise toured the world as a museum quality showpiece. Stops included Canada, France, Italy, Germany, England, and the 1984 World's Fair in New Orleans.In 1985, the Enterprise was donated to the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Institution. Smithsonian will soon donate the Enterprise space shuttle to the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City, in order to make room for its new exhibit – the Discovery space shuttle.These days, all space shuttles are on their way to museums.