Can You Guess the Year? 1-30-12 | TheFencePost.com

Can You Guess the Year? 1-30-12

Article and artwork by Dorothy Miller
Lochbuie, Colo.

A crowd of over 100,000 attended the first day of the World's Fair in Knoxville, Tenn.

A brutal cold snap sent temperatures to all-time record lows in dozens of cities throughout the Midwestern United States.

Shortly after takeoff, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into Washington, D.C.’s 14th Street Bridge and fell into the Potomac River, killing 78. On the same day, a Washington Metro train derailed to the north, killing three people. It was the system’s first fatal accident.

A ground-breaking ceremony for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial was held in Washington, DC.

The 54th Academy Awards, hosted by Johnny Carson, were held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles, Calif. “Chariots of Fire” won Best Picture and three other Academy Awards.

A blizzard unprecedented in size for April dumped 1- to 2-feet of snow on the northeastern United States, closing schools and businesses, snarling traffic, and canceling several major league baseball games.

A crowd of over 100,000 attended the first day of the World’s Fair in Knoxville, Tenn. The fair was kicked off with an address by President Ronald Reagan. Over 11 million people attended the fair during its six-month run.

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Prince William was born at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, West London.

In Orlando, Fla., Walt Disney World opened the second largest theme park, EPCOT Center, to the public for the first time.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C., after a march to its site by thousands of Vietnam War veterans.

Michael Jackson released Thriller, the biggest selling album of all time.

The “Christmas Eve Blizzard” hit Denver.

Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off a live bat thrown at him during a performance in Des Moines, Iowa. He thought it was rubber. Ozzy was arrested after urinating on The Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas.

The Mamas & the Papas begin a reunion tour with a show in the New York club The Other End. Spanky McFarlane replaced Mama Cass.

Johnny Cash hosted Saturday Night Live with Cash and Elton John and his classic band as the musical guests. Cash sang “I Walk The Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Ring of Fire” and “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”

Madonna’s debut single, “Everybody,” was released on Sire Records.

“Superman” the movie aired on American television for the first time.

Joseph Billie Gwin, wanting to “prevent World War III,” forced his way into the studios of Phoenix station KOOL-TV, fired a gunshot, took four people hostage, and demanded national air time. Three hours later, Gwin released two hostages, Jack Webb and Bob Cimino. At 9:30 p.m., with Gwin sitting next to him with a gun, KOOL anchor Bill Close read a 20-minute statement; when finished, Close took Gwin’s gun and set it on the table.

This year a Norwegian man, Don Dougherty drew a comic named “Froskene” based on Exodus 8 in the Bible, where it tells about the Plague of Frogs that God sent to Egypt.

Larry Walters – later called Lawn Chair Larry – an American truck driver took flight in a homemade airship. Dubbed Inspiration I, the “flying machine” consisted of an ordinary patio chair with 42 helium-filled weather balloons attached to it. Walters rose to an altitude of over 15,000 feet and floated from his point of origin in San Pedro, Calif., into controlled airspace near Los Angeles International Airport.

Walters had always dreamed of flying, but was unable to become a pilot in the United States Air Force because of his poor eyesight. Walters had first thought of using weather balloons to fly at age 13, after seeing them hanging from the ceiling of a military surplus store.

He took his pellet gun, a CB radio, sandwiches, cold beer and a camera. When his friends cut the cord that tied his lawn chair to his Jeep, Walters’ lawn chair rose rapidly. At first, he did not dare shoot any balloons, fearing that he might unbalance the load and cause himself to spill out. He slowly drifted over Long Beach and crossed the primary approach corridor of Long Beach Airport.

After 45 minutes in the sky, Walters shot several balloons, and then accidentally dropped his pellet gun overboard. He descended slowly, until the balloons’ dangling cables got caught in a power line, causing a blackout in a Long Beach neighborhood for 20 minutes. Walters was able to climb to the ground.

Regional safety inspector Neal Savoy was reported to have said, “We know he broke some part of the Federal Aviation Act, and as soon as we decide which part it is, some type of charge will be filed. If he had a pilot’s license, we’d suspend that. But he doesn’t.” Walters was initially fined $4,000 for violations under U.S. Federal Aviation Regulations, including operating an aircraft within an airport traffic area “without establishing and maintaining two-way communications with the control tower.” Walters appealed, and the fine was reduced to $1,500. A charge of operating a “civil aircraft for which there is not currently in effect an airworthiness certificate” was dropped, as it was not applicable to this class of aircraft. Walters commented, “If the FAA was around when the Wright Brothers were testing their aircraft, they would never have been able to make their first flight at Kitty Hawk.”

Walters received the top prize from the Bonehead Club of Dallas for his adventure, as well as invitations from The Tonight Show and Late Night with David Letterman.

After his flight, Walters was in demand as a motivational speaker and he quit his job as a truck driver. He never made much money from his fame. He later committed suicide by shooting himself in the heart in Angeles National Forest.

Can you guess this year?

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Do you know what year these events happened? If you do, send your answer to the Fence Post Guess the Year Contest, P.O. Box 1690, Greeley, Colo., 80632.

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The answer to last month’s Guess the Year Quiz was 1997. Congratulations to Bill Woodis of Deer Trail, Colo.., for being selected our prize winner. You can expect to receive $10 by the 20th of next month.