On October 15, 1783, the first manned balloon flight took place in Paris as Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier ascended in a basket attached to a tethered Montgolfier hot-air balloon, rising to about 75 feet.
In 1928, the German dirigible Graf Zeppelin landed in Lakehurst, N.J., completing its first commercial flight across the Atlantic.
In 1945, the former premier of Vichy France, Pierre Laval, was executed for treason.
In 1946, Nazi war criminal Hermann Goering (GEH’-reeng) fatally poisoned himself hours before he was to have been executed.ADVERTISEMENT
In 1954, Hurricane Hazel made landfall on the Carolina coast as a Category 4 storm; Hazel was blamed for some 1,000 deaths in the Caribbean, 95 in the U.S. and 81 in Canada.
In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a bill creating the U.S. Department of Transportation. The revolutionary Black Panther Party was founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in Oakland, California.
In 1976, in the first debate of its kind between vice-presidential nominees, Democrat Walter F. Mondale and Republican Bob Dole faced off in Houston.
In 1991, despite sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill, the Senate narrowly confirmed the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court, 52-48.
In 2001, Bethlehem Steel Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
In 2003, eleven people were killed when a Staten Island ferry slammed into a maintenance pier. (The ferry’s pilot, who’d blacked out at the controls, later pleaded guilty to eleven counts of manslaughter.)
In 2009, a report of a 6-year-old Colorado boy trapped inside a runaway helium balloon engrossed the nation before the boy, Falcon Heene (HEE’-nee), was found safe at home in what turned out to be a hoax. (Falcon’s parents served up to a month in jail.)
In 2015, President Barack Obama abandoned his pledge to end America’s longest war, announcing plans to keep at least 5,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the end of his term in 2017 and hand the conflict off to his successor.
In 2017, actress and activist Alyssa Milano tweeted that women who had been sexually harassed or assaulted should write “Me too” as a status; within hours, tens of thousands had taken up the #MeToo hashtag (using a phrase that had been introduced 10 years earlier by social activist Tarana Burke.)