This Day in Failure, January 20
2011: An American Airlines Boeing 777 carrying more than 250 people and a four-engine C-17 cargo plane—both traveling at 22,000 feet—pass each other just 2,000 feet apart, some 88 miles southeast of New York City over the Atlantic Ocean. A catastrophe is averted when onboard collision-avoidance systems prompt the AA crew to execute three distinct evasive maneuvers within a matter of seconds. Immediately after the near midair collision an American pilot snaps at controllers: “That guy passed us now and that was not good.” The National Transportation Safety Board blames the incident on mistakes and miscommunication between air-traffic controllers.
2010: Graco Children’s Products Inc. recalls 1.5 million baby strollers after the Exton, Pennsylvania, company learns that the Chinese-made strollers pose an amputation and laceration risk to children when opening or closing the canopy.
2009: Russian figure skater Ekaterina Rubleva, 23, loses her top while performing with partner Ivan Shefer, 25, during the Ice Dancing compulsory dance at the European Figure Skating Championships in Helsinki, Finland. The pair ignores the wardrobe malfunction and competes with Rubleva’s pink costume hanging down and one of her breasts exposed. The judges go on to award a score of 29.04, good enough for 12th place.
2009: Patti Blagojevich, 43, wife of impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, is fired from her $100,000-a-year job as chief fundraiser for the Chicago Christian Industrial League.
2005: Recently-deceased hockey fan Archie Bennitz denounces the four-month-old NHL lockout via his obituary in the Ottawa Citizen. Just prior to his death, the 84-year-old Maple Leafs fan referred to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and players union leader Bob Goodenow as ‘skunks’ for “denying him the pleasure of watching the NHL on TV this year,” and asked his son to include the criticism in his obituary.
1972: Richard Charles LaPoint, 23, hijacks a Hughes Air West DC-9 flight from Las Vegas and demands $50,000 in cash, as well as two parachutes and a helmet. Authorities deliver the cash—as well as two Air Force chutes equipped with emergency radio locator beacons. He jumps out of the plane over Colorado wearing only slacks and a shirt and high-heeled cowboy boots. A very cold LaPoint is captured within an hour, having suffered a badly injured ankle.
1971: The development program of the Jaguar XJ13 comes to an end when the prototype is wrecked by test driver Norman Dewis on its first run. Automobile conglomerate British Leyland had hoped to make the XJ13 Jaguar’s next luxury model.