February 13, 2020
Day 44 of 366
February 13th is the forty-fourth day of the year. It is World Radio Day.
In the United States, it is “celebrated” as National Break Up With Your Carrier Day, National Cheddar Day, National Tortellini Day, and National Giving Hearts Day. The last one is typically observed on the second Thursday in February.
Historical items of note:
- In 1880, Thomas Edison first observed Thermionic emission. In simpler terms, that is the liberation of electrons from an electrode by virtue of its temperature, such as light emitted by the filament in a light bulb.
- In 1910, William Shockley Jr. was born. He was the manager of a research group at Bell Labs that included John Bardeen and Walter Brattain. The three scientists were jointly awarded the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics for research on semiconductors and the discovery of the transistor effect.
- In 1932, actress Susan Oliver was born. She was Vina in the first Star Trek pilot, “The Cage”.
- In 1933, actress Caroline Blakiston was born. She was Mon Mothma in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.
- In 1935, a jury in Flemington, New Jersey found Bruno Hauptmann guilty of the 1932 kidnapping and murder of Charles Lindbergh’s son.
- In 1944, actress Stockard Channing was born.
- In 1950, English singer-songwriter and musician Peter Gabriel was born.
- In 1958, actress Pernilla August was born. She portrayed Shmi Skywalker in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
- In 1960, black college students staged the first of the Nashville sit-ins at three lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee.
- In 1966, actor and producer Neal McDonough was born.
- In 1990, an agreement was reached on a two-stage plan to reunite Germany.
- In 2004, the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics announced the discovery of the universe’s largest known diamond. It was white dwarf star BPM 37093, christened “Lucy” after “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” by The Beatles.
- In 2011, the American Indian Umatilla tribe were able to hunt and harvest a bison just outside Yellowstone National Park. This event, the first of its kind in more than 100 years, restored a centuries-old tradition guaranteed by a treaty signed in 1855.
In 1923, Chuck Yeager was born. He was the first test pilot to break the sound barrier.
A native of Myra, West Virginia, Yeager enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army Air Forces (USAAF) on September 12, 1941. He was not eligible for flight training due to his age and education, but he served as an aircraft mechanic at George Air Force Base in California. After the attack at Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II, the USAAF changed its recruiting standards and Yeager was accepted for flight training.
He received his wings at Luke Field in Arizona. His initial fighter pilot training was on Bell P-39 Airacobras, and he later flew P-51 Mustangs in combat with the 363d Fighter Squadron out of RAF Leiston. He was shot down on March 5, 1944 and escaped to Spain with help from the Maquis French resistance. He was later awarded a Bronze Star for helping B-24 navigator “Pat” Patterson during the escape attempt.
He continued to fly during World War II, being promoted to captain before the end of his tour. He was assigned to Wright Field with his wife where he served as a test pilot. He later transferred to Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards Air Force Base) where he broke the sound barrier on October 14, 1947, flying the X-1 Glamorous Glennis. That plane is on permanent display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.
After breaking several other speed and altitude records, Yeager continued his career, eventually promoting to brigadier general and retiring in 1975. He continued to fly on occasion for the United States Air Force and NASA as a consultant. He was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1973 and has several other awards and honors to his name. His legacy in aviation is unmistakable.
His wife Glennis, after whom he named his plane as a good luck charm, died of ovarian cancer in 1990. They had four children together.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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