A Blast from the Past

By United Press International  |  Dec. 17, 2002 at 3:00 AM
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Today is Dec. 17.

A year ago on this date, U.S. officials said the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden were unknown but they believed they had destroyed his al-Qaeda terrorist network in Afghanistan. However, it became clear in a few days that hundreds of bin Laden's men were escaping through the mountains into Pakistan.

The first documented successful powered and controlled flights of an airplane took place on this date in 1903. Orville and Wilbur Wright - brothers, bicycle shop operators and inventors -- made history after three years of experimentation. First one brother, then the other, soared over the sand dunes near Kitty Hawk, N.C. Orville Wright made the first flight, lasting 12 seconds and covering 120 feet. Brother Wilbur flew 852 feet later that day. North Carolina's license plates include the phrase: "First In Flight."

U.S. Brig. Gen. James Dozier was kidnapped in Rome by members of the Italian terrorist group the Red Brigades on this date in 1981. He was freed 42 days later in a raid by Italian anti-terrorist forces.

It was on this date in 1994 that North Korea announced it had shot down a U.S. Army helicopter in North Korean airspace, killing one pilot. The second pilot was reportedly uninjured but was being held by North Korea. The incident sparked a diplomatic crisis that ended when North Korea turned over the surviving American pilot to South Korea.

Court action on this date in 1986:

A federal jury in Detroit cleared automaker John DeLorean of all 15 charges in his fraud and racketeering trial. DeLorean had been accused of using his Belfast, Northern Ireland-based sports car company to launder drug profits. The DeLorean Motor Car Co. did not survive the controversy surrounding its founder.

In Las Vegas, a federal jury awarded entertainer Wayne Newton $19.3 million in his defamation suit against NBC. A judge later reduced the award to $5.3 million.

Army Gen. William "Billy" Mitchell, outspoken advocate of a separate U.S. Air Force, was found guilty of conduct prejudicial to the good of the armed services on this date in 1925. Mitchell would be awarded the Medal of Honor 20 years after his death.

And it was on this date in 1997 that New Jersey became the first state in the United States to permit homosexual couples to adopt children.

We now return you to the present, already in progress.

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