1986: Challenger Explodes, Chernoble Nuclear Disaster, Iran-Contra Scandal
By Patrick Mondout
Shuttle Challenger exploding was the most memorable story of the
decade, let alone the year. The Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Soviet
Union and the beginnings of the Iran-Contra scandal were also big
January 20: The French and British governments
jointly announce plans to construct the Channel Tunnel.
January 24: NASA's Voyager
2 becomes the first space probe to visit Uranus.
January 26: The Chicago Bears complete an 18-1 season by crushing
the New England Patriots 46-10 in Super
January 28: The Space
Shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds after takeoff killing all six
astronauts and "Teacher in Space" program participant Christa
February 19: Soviet Union launches the Mir Space Station.
February 25: Filipino Dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda
flee (sans her shoe collection) the island nation ending 20 years of
February 26: Corazon Aquino, widow of opposition leader Benigno
Aquino, becomes president of the Philippines.
February 28: In a crime that remains unsolved to this day, Prime
Minister Olof Palme of Sweden is shot dead while walking home with his
wife from a theatre.
March 9: Crew compartment of the Space Shuttle Challenger is
recovered by U.S. Navy divers with the bodies of all seven still inside.
March 20: Conservative Jacques Chirac becomes France's new prime
April 5: Two U.S. soldiers were killed, and 79 American servicemen
were injured in a Libyan bomb attack on a discotheque in West Berlin, West
Germany. In retaliation, U.S. military jets bombed targets in and around
Tripoli and Benghazi.
April 26: Chernobyl
nuclear plant in the Ukraine explodes killing 31 in the world's worst
nuclear disaster. Many more will die in coming years due to radiation
May 25: Americans pass colds on to one another during "Hands
June 19: Len Bias, the second pick by the Boston Celtics in the NBA
draft held a day earlier, dies of a cocaine overdose.
July 4: The repaired Statue of Liberty is unveiled by President
Reagan following three years of repairs which saw 100-year-old Lady
Liberty covered in scaffolding (used to great affect in the b-movie Remo
July 23: Sarah Ferguson marries Prince Andrew, the Duke of
York, at Westminster Abbey in London.
August 20: Patrick Henry Sherrill becomes the first USPS employee
to go postal when he kills 14 of his coworkers at the Edmond, Oklahoma
post office before turning the gun on himself. The rampage is the first
incident of many leading directly to the pop culture phrase "going
October 11: President Reagan and Soviet leader Gorbachev held their
second summit meeting at Reykjavik, Iceland.
November 11: Burroughs and Sperry Rand agree to merge to form
Unisys. The giant becomes the second largest computer company behind IBM.
November 21: NSC member Oliver North and his secretary Fawn Hall
becoming shredding evidence implicating North in weapons sales to Iran and
to illegal transfers of the proceeds to Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
November 29: North Korean agents planted a bomb aboard Korean Air
Lines Flight 858, which subsequently crashed into the Indian Ocean.
Smoke can already be seen (bottom-right - enhanced) pouring out of a Solid Rocket Booster on launch of Challenger, January 28, 1986.
Courtesy of NASA