This Day in History (21-Aug-1770) – James Cook Declares Eastern Australia for Great Britain

In the first of his three expeditions to the South Pacific, Cook managed to be the first man from western Europe to lay eyes upon what is today New South Wales. When he took on the mission, Cook received a grant from the Royal Society to observe the rare celestial occurrence of Venus passing across the sun in the South Pacific and use the information to determine the distance between the Earth and its nearest star.  Seen in 1761 by scientists from Britain, Austria and France at locations all over the world, the Royal Society wished to see if Edmond Halley’s calculations about the transit of Venus were correct.  Dispatching Cook to Tahiti in 1768 for observations, the following year allowed the young navigator ample time to plan his route and gather supplies.

Leaving Plymouth, England on August 26th, Cook sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and down the coast of South America before turning west into the Pacific after rounding Cape Horn.  In mid-April 1769, a minor collection of observations of Venus’ path were made. But the mission also had a hidden military agenda. Cook carried sealed orders instructing him to seek out the “Great Southern Continent,” an undiscovered landmass that was believed to lurk somewhere near the bottom of the globe. Within a few weeks of leaving Tahiti, Cook sailed the HMS Endeavor along the edges of New Zealand, creating a detailed map of the coastline, proving it was a pair of islands and not connected to a larger landmass.   Then he turned toward New Holland – what is now known as Australia – to serve as his guide back toward Southeast Asia on a westward course to Britain.  Early on the morning of April 19, 1770, the southeastern edge of Australia came into view.  Cook and his men entered history as the first Europeans to record seeing that stretch of coastline as they slowly skirted along to the north around the land mass.

While Cook’s journeys took place during a time when Britain was variously at war with the United States, Spain and France, his reputation as a pioneering explorer allowed him to travel the seas with relative impunity.

 

Reference:

http://www.mapsofworld.com/on-this-day/august-21-1770-ce-james-cook-declares-eastern-australia-for-great-britain

http://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-about-captain-james-cook

This Day in History (23-Jun-1985) – Air India Boeing 747 ‘Kanishka’ Crashes into the Atlantic Ocean

Shortly after Operation Blue Star, members of the Khalistan movement in Canada gather people to avenge the attacks on the Golden Temple. On June 23rd 1985, a certain Manjit Singh turned up to check in for Canadian Pacific airlines flight from Vancouver to Toronto. He asked the check in agent to transfer his bags to Air India flight 181 and then to flight 182. Singh was never identified after check in and the Canadian Pacific airlines flight from Toronto to Montreal departed without him, but with his bag on the flight.

The Canadian Pacific airlines flight landed in Toronto and Singh’s bag were transferred to Air India’s flight 182. All bags were to be either X ray screened, or checked by hand. The break down of an X-ray machine that day led to security officials using PDD-4 explosive sniffer which made a loud scream if it detected an explosive. This device made a low beep when passed near a maroon suitcase with a zipper going all around. Since officials did not know what to do if the machine made a low beep, they let the bag go. A bomb exploded on board while the aircraft was at an altitude of 31,000 feet. All 329 on board the flight, including passengers and crew members, perished in this deadly air disaster. The accident proved to be the worst aviation disaster over sea. The culprit, as it was later detected, was a suitcase in the forward cargo hold which held explosives responsible for this disaster.

On the same day, a man by the name L. Singh in Vancouver checked in on a Canadian Pacific flight from Vancouver to Tokyo with one piece of luggage which was supposed to be transferred to Air India flight 301 to Bangkok. L. Singh was later never identified and never boarded the flight, though his bag went on the flight to Tokyo. About an hour after Kanishka crashed, a bomb went off in a bag at Tokyo’s Narita airport killing two baggage handlers and injuring four in the process. This bomb was intended for the Air India flight 301 from Tokyo to Bangkok, but exploded before it was loaded onto the aircraft. No Sikh extremist organisation claimed responsibility of either of the events.

 

Reference:

http://www.mapsofindia.com/on-this-day/june-23-1985-air-india-boeing-747-kanishka-crashes-into-the-atlantic-ocean

http://www.airdisaster.com/special/special-ai182.shtml