Aircraft squadron lost in the Bermuda Triangle At 2:10 p.m., five U.S. Navy Avenger torpedo-bombers comprising Flight 19 take off from the Ft. Lauderdale Naval Air Station in Florida on a routine three-hour training mission. Flight 19 was scheduled to take them due east for 120 miles, north for 73 miles, and then back over a final 120-mile leg that would return them to the naval base. They never returned. Two hours after the flight began, the leader of the squadron, who had been flying in the area for more than six months, reported that his compass and back-up compass had failed and that his position was unknown. The other planes experienced similar instrument malfunctions. Radio facilities on land were contacted to find the location of the lost squadron, but none were successful. After two more hours of confused messages from the fliers, a distorted radio transmission from the squadron leader was heard at 6:20 p.m., apparently calling for his men to prepare to ditch their aircraft simultaneously because of lack of fuel. By this time, several land radar stations finally determined that Flight 19 was somewhere north of the Bahamas and east of the Florida coast, and at 7:27 p.m. a search and rescue Mariner aircraft took off with a 13-man crew. Three minutes later, the Mariner aircraft radioed to its home base that its mission was underway. The Mariner was never heard from again. Later, there was a report from a tanker cruising off the coast of Florida of a visible explosion seen at 7:50 p.m. The disappearance of the 14 men of Flight 19 and the 13 men of the Mariner led to one of the largest air and seas searches to that date, and hundreds of ships and aircraft combed thousands of square miles of the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and remote locations within the interior of Florida. No trace of the bodies or aircraft was ever found. Although naval officials maintained that the remains of the six aircraft and 27 men were not found because stormy weather destroyed the evidence, the story of the “Lost Squadron” helped cement the legend of the Bermuda Triangle, an area of the Atlantic Ocean where ships and aircraft are said to disappear without a trace. The Bermuda Triangle is said to stretch from the southern U.S. coast across to Bermuda and down to the Atlantic coast of Cuba and Santo Domingo. 1933 Prohibition ends The 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified, repealing the 18th Amendment and bringing an end to the era of national prohibition of alcohol in America. At 5:32 p.m. EST, Utah became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, achieving the requisite three-fourths majority of states’ approval. Pennsylvania and Ohio had ratified it earlier in the day. The movement for the prohibition of alcohol began in the early 19th century, when Americans concerned about the adverse effects of drinking began forming temperance societies. By the late 19th century, these groups had become a powerful political force, campaigning on the state level and calling for national liquor abstinence. Several states outlawed the manufacture or sale of alcohol within their own borders. In December 1917, the 18th Amendment, prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors for beverage purposes,” was passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification. On January 29, 1919, the 18th Amendment achieved the necessary three-fourths majority of state ratification. Prohibition essentially began in June of that year, but the amendment did not officially take effect until January 29, 1920. In the meantime, Congress passed the Volstead Act on October 28, 1919, over President Woodrow Wilson’s veto. The Volstead Act provided for the enforcement of Prohibition, including the creation of a special Prohibition unit of the Treasury Department. In its first six months, the unit destroyed thousands of illicit stills run by bootleggers. However, federal agents and police did little more than slow the flow of booze, and organized crime flourished in America. Large-scale bootleggers like Al Capone of Chicago built criminal empires out of illegal distribution efforts, and federal and state governments lost billions in tax revenue. In most urban areas, the individual consumption of alcohol was largely tolerated and drinkers gathered at “speakeasies,” the Prohibition-era term for saloons. Prohibition, failing fully to enforce sobriety and costing billions, rapidly lost popular support in the early 1930s. In 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Constitution was passed and ratified, ending national Prohibition. After the repeal of the 18th Amendment, some states continued Prohibition by maintaining statewide temperance laws. Mississippi, the last dry state in the Union, ended Prohibition in 1966. 1871 Rodeo star Bill Pickett born in Texas On this day, the great steer wrestling rodeo star Bill Pickett is born near Austin, Texas. The son of black and Indian parents, Pickett learned his roping and riding skills working as a cowboy on a Texas ranch. He attracted the attention of the Miller brothers, who ran the 101 Ranch Wild West Show, the successful touring extravaganza that also made stars of Will Rogers and Tom Mix. The 101 Ranch, and other Wild West shows, played a key role in the evolution of rodeos from small local competitions among neighboring ranch hands into stylized Hollywood-influenced entertainment productions. The Wild West rodeos even created new events like wild bull riding that—in contrast to real ranching skills like roping and bronc-riding—were never widely practiced by sensible traditional cowboys. Bill Pickett introduced bulldogging, now better known as steer wrestling, to the world of rodeo entertainment. As a special attraction for the audiences of the 101 Ranch, Pickett rode his horse, Spradley, alongside a running longhorn steer. He grabbed the steer’s head and bit its upper lip—an unorthodox but effective means of forcing the steer to follow Pickett’s commands. Since bulldogs were known to control cattle by biting onto their lower lips and ferociously hanging on, Pickett’s steer wrestling method became known as “bulldogging.” Of course, it is unlikely that any working cowboy ever attempted to control a steer by “bulldogging” it, but the audience loved Pickett’s stunt. Steer wrestling became a standard rodeo competition, although few cowboys were willing to copy Pickett’s lip-biting method, which was replaced by other techniques. Pickett’s bulldogging performance made him a national rodeo star, but the American fascination for Wild West shows and rodeos faded after World War I, and the 101 Ranch closed in 1931. Pickett died a forgotten man not long afterwards, at age 70, from injuries suffered while working horses for the 101 Ranch in Texas. His contributions to the sport were recognized in 1972, when he was posthumously inducted into the National Rodeo Hall of Fame.