Today is Wednesday, March 27, the 86th day of 2019. There are 279 days left in the year.
Today's Highlight in History: On March 27, 1977, in aviation's worst disaster, 583 people were killed when a KLM Boeing 747, attempting to take off in heavy fog, crashed into a Pan Am 747 on an airport runway on the Canary Island of Tenerife (ten-uh-REEF').
On this date:
In 1513, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon (hwahn pahns duh LEE'-ohn) sighted present-day Florida.
In 1625, Charles I acceded to the English throne upon the death of James I.
In 1933, Japan officially withdrew from the League of Nations.
In 1942, during World War II, Congress granted American servicemen free first-class mailing privileges.
In 1958, Nikita Khrushchev became Soviet premier in addition to First Secretary of the Communist Party.
In 1964, Alaska was hit by a magnitude 9.2 earthquake (the strongest on record in North America) and tsunamis that together claimed about 130 lives.
In 1968, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin (gah-GAH'-rihn), the first man to orbit the Earth in 1961, died when his MiG-15 jet crashed during a routine training flight near Moscow; he was 34.
In 1975, construction began on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which was completed two years later.
In 1980, 123 workers died when a North Sea floating oil field platform, the Alexander Kielland, capsized during a storm.
In 1995, "Forrest Gump" won six Academy Awards, including best picture and a second consecutive best actor Oscar for Tom Hanks; Jessica Lange won best actress for "Blue Sky."
In 2006, Al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui (zak-uh-REE'-uhs moo-SOW'-ee) testified at his federal trial that he was supposed to hijack a fifth airplane on Sept. 11, 2001, and fly it into the White House.
Ten years ago: President Barack Obama launched a fresh effort to defeat al-Qaida terrorists in both Pakistan and Afghanistan, ordering in 4,000 more troops. A suicide bomber set off an explosion at a packed mosque in Pakistan near the Afghan border, killing at least 48 people. The rising Red River broke a 112-year record and threatened the dikes fortifying Fargo, N.D. The main suspect in the Phoenix serial shooter attacks, Dale Hausner, was sentenced to death for six murders that had put the city on edge for nearly two years. (Hausner committed suicide in an isolation cell in June 2013.)
Five years ago: Face to face at the Vatican for the first time, President Barack Obama and Pope Francis focused on their mutual respect and shared concern for the poor. The U.S. Air Force took the extraordinary step of firing nine midlevel nuclear commanders and announcing it would discipline dozens of junior officers at a nuclear missile base, responding firmly to an exam-cheating scandal. A judge in Missoula, Montana, sentenced Jordan Graham to more than 30 years in prison for killing Cody Johnson, her husband of eight days, by pushing him from a cliff in Glacier National Park. James Schlesinger, 85, who'd held a long string of Cabinet and other high-level positions in three U.S. administrations, died in Baltimore.
One year ago: Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, in an essay on The New York Times website, called for the repeal of the Second Amendment to allow for significant gun control legislation. The co-owner of a Kansas water park and a ride designer were charged with reckless second-degree murder in the decapitation of a 10-year-old boy on the ride in 2016. (A judge dismissed the charges last month, finding that state prosecutors had shown inadmissible evidence to grand jurors.)
Today's Birthdays: Actor Julian Glover is 84. Actor Jerry Lacy is 83. Hall of Fame racer Cale Yarborough is 80. Actor-director Austin Pendleton is 79. Actor Michael York is 77. Rock musician Tony Banks (Genesis) is 69. Rock musician Andrew Farriss (INXS) is 60. Actor Brian Tarantina is 60. Jazz musician Dave Koz (kahz) is 56. Movie director Quentin Tarantino is 56. Rock musician Derrick McKenzie (Jamiroquai) is 55. Rock musician Johnny April (Staind) is 54. Actress Talisa Soto is 52. Actor Ben Koldyke is 51. Actress Pauley Perrette is 50. Singer Mariah Carey is 49. Rock musician Brendan Hill (Blues Traveler) is 49. Actress Elizabeth Mitchell is 49. Actor Nathan Fillion is 48. Hip-hop singer Fergie is 44. Jazz musician Tia Fuller is 43. Actress Emily Ann Lloyd is 35. San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey is 32. Actress Brenda Song is 31. Pop singer-songwriter Kimbra is 29. Actress Taylor Atelian is 24. Classical crossover singer Amira Willighagen (TV: "Holland's Got Talent") is 15.
Thought for Today: "Fanaticism consists in redoubling your effort when you have forgotten your aim." — George Santayana, American philosopher (1863-1952).