Sophie Blanchard was a French aeronaut. The widow of ballooning
pioneer Jean-Pierre Blanchard, she was the first woman to work as a
professional balloonist. Though nervous on the ground, she was a
fearless aeronaut and after her husband's death she continued
ballooning, making more than 60 ascents. Known throughout Europe for
her ballooning exploits, she entertained Napoleon Bonaparte, who
promoted her to the role of "Aeronaut of the Official Festivals",
replacing André-Jacques Garnerin. On the restoration of the monarchy
in 1814 she performed for Louis XVIII, who named her "Official
Aeronaut of the Restoration". Ballooning was a risky business for the
pioneers. Blanchard lost consciousness on a couple of occasions,
endured freezing temperatures and almost drowned when her balloon
crashed in a marsh. In 1819 she became the first woman to be killed in
an aviation accident when, during an exhibition in the Tivoli Gardens
in Paris, she launched fireworks that ignited the gas in her balloon.
Her craft crashed on the roof of a house and she fell to her death.
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Today's selected anniversaries:
Christopher Columbus became the first European to land on Puerto
Rico, an island he named San Juan Bautista after John the Baptist.
The University of Warsaw, currently the largest university in
Poland, was established as The Royal University of Warsaw after Warsaw
was separated from Kraków, the oldest and most influential Polish
American Civil War: U.S. President Abraham Lincoln delivered the
Gettysburg Address (Lincoln's "Hay Draft" pictured) at the dedication
of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It is
one of the most quoted speeches in United States history.
World War II: The Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney and the
German auxiliary cruiser HSK Kormoran destroyed each other off the
coast of Western Australia in the Indian Ocean.
Playing for Santos against Vasco da Gama at Estádio do Maracanã in
Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian football player Pelé scored his 1000th goal
on a penalty kick.
Shenzhou 1, China's first unmanned test flight of the Shenzhou
spacecraft, was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in
Alxa League, Inner Mongolia.
Wiktionary's Word of the day:
prurient: Uneasy with desire; having a lascivious anxiety or
Wikiquote of the day:
It is the high privilege and sacred duty of those now
living to educate their successors and fit them, by intelligence and
virtue, for the inheritance which awaits them. In this beneficent work
sections and races should be forgotten and partisanship should be
unknown. -- James A. Garfield