On this day: Orville Wright made successful flight

Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 17 December

On this day in 1903 Orville Wright made the first successful controlled flight in a powered aircraft at Kitty Hawk, USA. Picture: Getty
On this day in 1903 Orville Wright made the first successful controlled flight in a powered aircraft at Kitty Hawk, USA. Picture: Getty

1531: Pope Clement VII started Inquisition in Lisbon, Portugal.

1538: Pope Paul III excommunicated England’s King Henry VIII.

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1843: The first print run of 6,000 copies of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol sold out in a week.

1903: Orville Wright made the first successful controlled flight in a powered aircraft, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

1914: Abbas II was deposed, and Prince Hussein Kemel became Khedive of Egypt, over which Britain proclaimed a protectorate.

1922: Last British troops left Irish Free State.

1956: Petrol rationing was imposed in Britain after closing of the Suez Canal.

1962: Joint committee of the House of Lords recommended that peers should be allowed to renounce their titles.

1967: Harold Holt, the Australian prime minister, disappeared while swimming at Cheviot Beach, near Melbourne. His body was never found, fuelling many theories regarding his disappearance, ranging from suicide to abduction by a Chinese submarine

1967: Sir Alec Rose, a greengrocer, arrived in Australia after completing a solo sea voyage of 14,500 miles in his yacht The Lively Lady.

1983: Car bomb exploded outside Harrods in Knightsbridge, London, killing six people and injuring 39.

1984: Band Aid’s Do they know it’s Christmas? was number one in the pop charts.

1986: Mrs Davina Thompson became the world’s first heart, lungs and liver transplant patient, at Papworth Hospital, Cambridge.

1990: Ravenscraig workers decided not to fight closure of hot strip mill and loss of 770 jobs.

1990: MPs voted against reintroducing the death penalty.

1991: In Blackpool, the Fun House at the resort’s pleasure beach was destroyed by fire.

2003: Ian Huntley was given two life sentences at the Old Bailey for the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman at Soham, Lincolnshire. His former girlfriend, Maxine Carr, was jailed for three and a half years for conspiring to pervert the course of justice.

2010: Street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire. The act became the catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution. The success of the Tunisian protests sparked protests in several other Arab countries.


Pope Francis, 78; Milla Jovovich, model and actress, 39; Simon Bates, disc jockey, 68; Brian Hayes, Australian radio presenter, 77; Bernard Hill, actor, 70; Dominic Lawson, journalist, 58; Mike Mills, musician (REM), 56; Paula Radcliffe MBE, athlete, 41; Paul Rodgers, rock singer, 65; Sir Peter Snell KBE, Olympic gold-medallist runner, 76; Tommy Steele OBE, singer and actor, 78; Dame Jacqueline Wilson DBE, children’s laureate 2005-2007, 69; Manny Pacquiao, only boxer to become world champion in eight divisions, 36; Bill Pullman, actor, 61; Sarah Dallin, musician (Bananarama), 53; Ron Geesin, Ayrshire-born musician and composer, 71.


Births: 1778 Sir Humphry Davy, inventor of miner’s safety lamp; 1873 Ford Maddox Ford, novelist and critic; 1937 Kerry Packer, media tycoon; 1945 Christopher Cazenove, actor.

Deaths: 1830 Simon Bolivar, South American revolutionary; 1907 Sir William Thomson, first Baron Kelvin of Largs, physicist and inventor who devised absolute temperature scales; 1917 Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, first advocate of women’s rights to practise medicine; 1997 Dr Herrick Bunney, organist and master of music, St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh; 2011 Kim Jong II, dictator of North Korea.