25 Years Ago
Ride, Sally Ride
Astrophysicist Sally Ride, 32, blasts off in the Challenger space shuttle on June 18, 1983, the first American woman in space. Ride, an astronaut since 1978, and other crew members deploy satellites and test a robotic arm she helped design. "It's probably the most fun I will ever have in my life," she says on landing. In 2001 she founds Sally Ride Science to encourage schoolgirls to join the fun.
60 Years Ago
Help from Above
With Berlin blockaded by the Soviets, determined to force Western withdrawal from the city, American and British forces begin flying in flour, coal and medicine to aid its 2 million residents—including 10,000 Americans—on June 26, 1948. By its end in September 1949, the Berlin Airlift makes some 277,000 flights to deliver more than 2 million tons of supplies. The Berlin Wall goes up in 1961.
60 Years Ago
A New Record
Columbia Records unveils the 33 1⁄3 LP (for long-playing) record June 21, 1948. With a slower speed and more than triple the grooves of standard 78s, the 12-inch discs play for 45 minutes—almost six times longer—and take up less space. Not having to change records so often, says a critic, makes LPs "sensational for longhairs." And for everyone else: by year's end, 1.25 million have sold.
70 Years Ago
Superman debuts in the June 1938 Action Comics No. 1. Created by Jerry Siegel and Joseph Shuster, the caped superhero can "hurdle a twenty-story building" and "run faster than an express train," but can't fly until the 1940s. The pair sell the rights to Superman for $130; in 2008 a judge returns a share of the copyright to Siegel's heirs.
80 Years Ago
Eighty-three flight hours, two stops and 7,388 miles after leaving Oakland, California, Australian pilot Charles Kingsford Smith and his team land their Fokker F.VIIB plane Southern Cross in Brisbane, Australia, to complete the first trans-Pacific flight, June 9, 1928. "None could have succeeded without the others," says Kingsford Smith, who dies, at 38, in a 1935 plane crash.