This Day in History… August 23, 1966

First Photo of Earth Taken from the Moon 

U.S. #2571

On August 23, 1966, Lunar Orbiter I captured the first images of our planet from deep space.

Photographing Earth wasn’t the mission. It wasn’t even considered until the craft was out in space.

The Lunar Orbiter program was launched in 1966, and aimed at capturing images of the moon’s surface to plan possible landing sites. As NASA made preparations, they discovered that Boeing and Eastman Kodak had been working on exactly what they needed – a spacecraft with an onboard camera system. Continue reading

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This Day in History… August 22, 1902

First Public Presidential Car Ride 

U.S. #296 – Issued in 1901 to commemorate the Pan-American Expo and World’s Fair in Buffalo, New York. President McKinley was assassinated at the fair, leading Theodore Roosevelt to become President.

Touring New England on August 22, 1902, Theodore Roosevelt became the first sitting President to publicly ride in an automobile.

Less than a year before, Roosevelt became America’s youngest President when his predecessor, William McKinley, was assassinated at the Pan-American Expo and World’s Fair. Roosevelt quickly became a leader in the Progressive Era and set about fulfilling his own political agenda.

Roosevelt proved popular among the people and toured often. In August 1902, he took a yacht to New Haven, Connecticut and then embarked on a state-wide tour in a Columbia Electric Victoria Phaeton automobile. It was the first time a sitting president publicly rode in a car. An estimated 20,000 people lined the streets to catch a glimpse of the president and cheer him on as he passed by. Continue reading

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Amazing Flying Boats Carried First Trans-Pacific Airmail

Aviation in the 1920s developed at an incredible pace.  Instead of the fragile wood and fabric of early biplanes, aircraft were soon being constructed of sturdy, streamlined metal propelled by increasingly light and powerful motors.  As planes became more safe and reliable, people began to realize the amazing potential of flight.  U.S. Airmail, first flown in May 1918, began regularly scheduled transcontinental flights only two years later.  Commercial travel developed alongside airmail, bringing passengers to their destinations quicker and easier than ever before.  But as fast as flight was progressing, the oceans still proved a formidable obstacle.

The China Clipper over San Fransisco's shoreline on its inaugural transpacific airmail flight.

The China Clipper over San Fransisco’s shoreline on its inaugural transpacific airmail flight.

In 1927, Charles Lindbergh and his Spirit of St. Louis made the first nonstop flight across the Atlantic.  A year later, the famous Graf Zeppelin airship began transatlantic passenger and mail flights.  International air travel was becoming a reality for the first time.  Realizing the huge economic potential, airlines began developing the infrastructure necessary to make worldwide scheduled flight routes possible.  It was a huge undertaking – not many countries had airfields large enough for a commercial aircraft to land, or access to the supplies and parts needed to maintain those planes.

Why Flying Boats?

Pan American Airways had a novel solution to bring airmail and travelers to destinations without an airfield:  The company began to create a fleet of seaplanes, capable of landing anywhere with a sheltered harbor.  Continue reading

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This Day in History… August 21, 1959

America Adds 50th State – Hawaii 

U.S. #799 pictures King Kamehameha I who led a 28-year conquest to unite the islands of Hawaii.

On August 21, 1959, America became the 50-state nation we know today with the addition of Hawaii.

For centuries, the islands of Hawaii were ruled separately by local chiefs. In 1782, Chief Kamehameha began a bloody war to unite the islands into one kingdom. He achieved his goal of unification in 1810 and proclaimed himself King Kamehameha I.

U.S. #C46

Hawaii adopted its first constitution in 1840 and was recognized as an independent government in 1842. King Kalakaua gave the U.S. the right to use Pearl Harbor as a naval base in 1887 in return for trading privileges. In 1891, Kalakaua died and his sister was crowned Queen Liliuokalani. Continue reading

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This Day in History… August 20, 1938

Lou Gehrig Hits Record 23rd Grand Slam 

U.S. #2417

Stepping up to bat in the first inning with the bases loaded, Lou Gehrig hit the 23rd grand slam of his career on August 20, 1938.

Many sportswriters have used the word “durable” to describe Lou Gehrig. Even his nickname, “The Iron Horse,” implied stability. Recruited by the Yankees in 1923, Gehrig stayed with the team his entire career.

Gehrig’s career was full of incredible accomplishments. He set an American League record in 1931 with 184 runs batted in; hit four home runs in one game in 1932; and played in 2,130 consecutive games – a record that remained unbroken until 1995. Continue reading

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This Day in History… August 19, 1812

USS Constitution Earns Much-Needed American Victory at Sea 

U.S. #951

On August 19, 1812, the USS Constitution dueled with the British HMS Guerriere and reigned victorious.

Made from sturdy oak trees, the Constitution first launched in U.S. waters in 1797. Not yet 20 years old when the War of 1812 began, the tiny U.S. Navy was clearly inferior to the mighty Royal Navy. Once the conflict began, its ships were ordered out to sea so the British couldn’t block them into port. Continue reading

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