As you're working on your summer tan, enjoying your well-earned vacation; and trying to think of reasons why you shouldn’t have to get out of that hammock swinging gently in the breeze, let's fill a couple of idle moments with some trivia about the new month that’s suddenly upon us.
• July 1, 1996 — We lost the Jets! Now that our team is back, this dreadful headline doesn’t hurt quite as much, does it? But it was on this date that our hockey team officially made the move to Phoenix and became the Coyotes. The Jets had been one of the original World Hockey Association franchises back in 1972 and had joined the NHL in 1979 along with the Edmonton Oilers, Quebec Nordiques and Hartford Whalers.
After 15 years, on May 31, 2011, at a press conference at the MTS Centre, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed that the Atlanta Thrashers had been sold to True North, and would relocate to Winnipeg for the 2011-12 season, pending the approval of the sale and relocation by the NHL board of governors. The board of governors gave formal approval of the sale and relocation at their June 21, 2011, meeting.
The reported purchase price was $170 million, with $60 million going to the NHL as a relocation fee.
• July 6, 1928 — The first "talking" motion picture, The Jazz Singer, was seen and heard.
• July 16, 1945 — The first atomic bomb was exploded in New Mexico.
Ten years later, on July 9, 1955, nine world famous scientists announced in a joint statement that thermonuclear weapons could bring universal death to mankind.
• July 17 to 20 — The British Open. The British Open golf tournament (actual title: The Open Championship) is one of the four major championships of men’s golf. It’s played annually in July. This year, it’s at Royal Liverpool, Hoylake, England.
Care to try a little trivia quiz about this oldest of all the golf tournaments?
Remember the famous golfer Harry Vardon? Well, you may not remember him directly, but you’ve probably heard his name because he’s the guy who gave us the golf grip that bears his name — the Vardon grip.
Anyway, true or false: Vardon won the British Open three times (answer at the end of the column)?
• July 23, 1983 — The night of the Gimli Glider. As Lake Winnipeg cottagers were going about their Saturday evening summer activities, they had no way of knowing about the drama that was unfolding in the sky just above them.
Similarly, the people in the area of the old Canadian Armed Forces base at Gimli had no way of knowing how close they were to a potential disaster.
On this evening, 1,500 Gimli High School grads were enjoying a reunion at the base rec centre, while nearby, at the end of an old runway, drag-racing enthusiasts were unwinding after a busy day of races on the old landing strip.
Meanwhile, in the sky above, Air Canada Flight 143 had run out of fuel over Red Lake, Ontario, about half way to its Edmonton destination.
The plane was now gliding and was 65 miles from Winnipeg and 45 miles from Gimli. Co-pilot Maurice Quintal remembered the old runway by the west shore of Lake Winnipeg and at about 8:30 p.m., Captain Robert Pearson decided to attempt an emergency landing at the former Gimli base — no easy feat with both engines out, no power to the electronic gauges and no control flaps for the descent.
Pearson’s experience as a glider pilot paid off, as the miracle landing was successful and there were only minor injuries among the six crew and 61 passengers.
• July 31, 1947 — How’s this for a weird and ironic twist? The Smugglers’ Union in France went on strike protesting the laxity of customs guards in allowing travellers to bring fruit and wine across the Spanish-French border. The union claimed this was sabotaging the smuggling business. Go figure.
Trivia quiz answer
The answer is false. Harry Vardon actually won the British Open six times between 1896 and 1914.
Extra trivia at no extra charge: he also won the U.S. Open in 1900.