31 May 1977

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System is completed.

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System was completed in 1977, and carried North Slope oil from Prudhoe Bay at the northern tip of Alaska to the Valdez Marine Terminal in Prince William Sound 800 miles to the south. The pipeline has been recognized as a landmark of engineering although the task was made slightly easier due to lessons learned from the building of the Davidson Ditch, Alaska’s first long-distance combination pipeline and ditch, built some 50 years earlier.

With the laying of the first section of pipe on March 27, 1975, construction began on what at the time was the largest private construction project in American history. More than 28,000 people worked directly on the pipeline at the peak of its construction in the Fall of 1975. Many workers from Fairbanks were hired at the local union halls making Fairbanks the major hiring location for the pipeline. Ft. Wainwright army base in Fairbanks housed workers employed on the project near the city.

Fairbanks was also the major hub for materials and pipe staged at the pipeline yard. The last weld was completed on May 31, 1977. Less than a month later, on June 20, 1977, oil from the North Slope’s Prudhoe Bay field began flowing to the port of Valdez at four miles an hour through the 48-inch-wide pipe. The oil arrived at the port 38 days later.

The completed Trans-Alaskan Pipeline system, including pumping stations, connecting pipelines, and the ice-free Valdez Marine Terminal ended up costing $8 billion and is still in production today.

28 May 1977

The Beverly Hills Supper Club in Southgate, Kentucky, is engulfed in fire, killing 165 people inside.

The Beverly Hills Supper Club fire in Southgate, Kentucky, is the third deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history. It occurred on the night of May 28, 1977, during the Memorial Day holiday weekend. A total of 165 people died and more than 200 were injured as a result of the blaze.

On Saturday, May 28, 1977, the Beverly Hills Supper Club was operating beyond capacity, largely due to the popularity of that evening’s Cabaret Room show, featuring popular Hollywood singer and actor John Davidson. Based on its number of exits, the Cabaret Room could safely accommodate about 600 people, according to the calculations of the Fire Marshal; on this night it exceeded capacity, with people seated on ramps and in aisles. According to later estimates based on seating charts and memories of those present, the number of people in the Cabaret Room at 9:00 p.m. on May 28 was somewhere between 900 and 1,300. Regardless of the exact number each gives, sources agree that the room was well beyond its safe holding limit.

Elsewhere in the club, patrons were eating gourmet meals. Later estimates place the total number of people in the Beverly Hills Supper Club on May 28, 1977 at approximately 3,000, substantially more than the 1,500 people fire code allowed at the time for a building with the number of exits the club had.

Near the south exit close to the main bar, opposite end of the building from the Cabaret Room, a wedding reception drew to a close around 8:30 p.m. in the Zebra Room, near the building’s main entrance; some of its guests had complained of the room being excessively warm with loud explosions from beneath the floor, and the group left the building before the end of their allotted time. The room remained vacant from their departure until a minute before 9 p.m., when an employee smelled smoke and opened the Zebra Room’s door to confirm the presence of smoke. She asked another employee to call the Fire Department while she and others grabbed any available fire extinguishers and began trying to fight the flames. Though the employees were not aware of it, their opening of the Zebra Room’s door allowed enough oxygen into the room to cause what had been a smoldering fire in the room’s drop ceiling to flashover and begin to spread rapidly. It quickly became clear that fire extinguishers were useless against the fast-growing blaze. The Fire Department was alerted to the fire at 9:01 p.m. and arrived by 9:05; as they approached, firefighters on the first emergency vehicles could already see smoke coming from the building.

As smoke began to escape the Zebra Room and drift down the hall toward other banquet rooms, patrons and employees nearest to the Zebra Room smelled it. The employees began to urge room occupants to leave the building. However, as the sprawling complex lacked an audible fire alarm, those in more isolated rooms had no way to know that there was a fire in the building until an employee walked the length of the building alerting them. Fire investigators later estimated that the fire, once it spread through the northern doors of the Zebra Room, took only two to five minutes to enter the Cabaret Room; as a result, news of the fire and the first of the smoke and flame reached the Cabaret Room, the farthest point from the Zebra Room, nearly simultaneously. By the time busboy Walter Bailey arrived in the Cabaret Room and interrupted the show to order an evacuation at 9:06 p.m., there was very little time left for the audience of around 1000 people to make their way through the room’s small number of exits. As it spread laterally, the fire also began to spread upwards, engulfing the spiral staircase that would have provided the best exit for those on the second floor of the building.

Around 9:10 p.m., power failed in the building, extinguishing the lights. Panic ensued, and even those who had been calmly moving toward exits in the Cabaret Room began to push and shove each other. The situation was made even more desperate by the fact that of the three exits in the room, two were soon blocked off by the fire, leaving the crowd to funnel through a single exit. Employees outside the exits attempted to pull guests to safety, but the crush of bodies as those behind pushed upon those in front became so solid that no amount of strength could free most of them. Many of those who escaped the crush blocking the northeast fire exit became lost trying to find other exits. The building’s confusing design often led to a set of doors opening into a bar area that funneled frantic guests into a dead end.

Firefighters, alerted that the majority of the building’s occupants were in the Cabaret Room, focused their efforts there, but even the combined efforts of every fire department in the county were simply too little, too late. Temperatures in the Cabaret Room soared into the thousands of degrees and even firefighters, weary and dehydrated, were soon unable to safely attempt any further rescues.
When I got to the inside doors, which is about 30 feet inside the building, I saw these big double doors, and people were stacked like cordwood. They were clear up to the top. They just kept diving out on each other trying to get out. I looked back over the pile of – it wasn’t dead people, there were dead and alive in that pile – and I went in and I just started to grab them two at a time and pull them off the stack, and drag them out…

—?Bruce Rath, Fort Thomas Volunteer Fire Department,
At 11:30 p.m. fire command, suspecting that the building’s roof would soon collapse, ordered all firefighters to evacuate the building. At approximately midnight, the roof did indeed implode onto what remained of the building. The magnitude of the blaze was such that firefighters did not have the flames under control until around two o’clock that morning; parts of the building continued to burn until May 30, two days after the fire began.

By the early morning of May 29, 134 bodies had been removed from the building and laid out, initially on the hillside surrounding the building and then in a makeshift morgue inside the nearby Fort Thomas Armory. By the end of June 1, 28 more bodies had been discovered, bringing the death toll up to 162. All but two of the dead were found in and around the Cabaret Room, with 125 clustered near the room’s north exit and another 34 at the room’s southern exit. Two bodies were removed from the Viennese Room. A small number of fire victims died after being rescued from the scene: one on June 25, one on July 2, and the last on March 1, 1978, nearly a year after the fire. This brought the number of verified deaths to 165.

25 May 1977

Star Wars is released in theaters.

On May 25, 1977, a long time ago in a galaxy not so far away … the first film in the Star Wars series was released in movie theaters.

What has now grown into a franchise, spanning the worlds of film, books, TV, video games, toys, and more, started when the world met characters including Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, R2-D2, Yoda, and Darth Vader in the original Star Wars film, created by George Lucas.

Star Wars was followed by two sequels: The Empire Strikes Back, released on May 21, 1980, and Return of the Jedi, released on May 25, 1983.

More than two decades after the release of the original film, the series continued with prequels Episode I: The Phantom Menace, released on May 19, 1999; Episode II: Attack of the Clones, released on May 16, 2002; and Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, released on May 19, 2005.

In 2015, a series of sequels began with Episode VII: The Force Awakens, followed by Episode VIII: The Last Jedi in 2017, and Episode IX is planned for release in 2019. There are also two Star Wars anthology films, 2016’s Rogue One and Solo: A Star Wars Story, which was released today, the 41st anniversary of the original premiere.

Star Wars has built a fan base larger and stronger than the Death Star itself, that celebrate the films with a fan holiday each May 4. Fans wish each other well by saying “May the 4th be with you” on what came to be known as Star Wars Day.

Many engineers can be found among those fans. The films have inspired many tech careers and analysis of devices, including blaster fire, featured in them.

24 July 1977

The four-day-long Libyan–Egyptian War ends.

On July 21, 1977, there were the first gun battles between troops on the border, followed by land and air strikes. On July 24, the combatants agreed to a ceasefire under the mediation of the President of Algeria Houari Boumediène and the Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.

Background
Relations between the Libyan and the Egyptian government had been deteriorating ever since the end of Yom Kippur War from October 1973, due to Libyan opposition to President Anwar Sadat’s peace policy as well as the breakdown of unification talks between the two governments. Frequent, politically-driven deportations of Egyptian migrants working in Libya also contributed to tense bilateral relations.[5] There is some proof that the Egyptian government was considering a war against Libya as early as 1974. On February 28, 1974, during Henry Kissinger’s visit to Egypt, President Sadat told him about such intentions and requested that pressure be put on the Israeli government not to launch an attack on Egypt in the event of its forces being occupied in war with Libya. In addition, the Egyptian government had broken its military ties with Moscow, while the Libyan government kept that cooperation going. The Egyptian government also gave assistance to former RCC members Major Abd al Munim al Huni and Omar Muhayshi, who unsuccessfully tried to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi in 1975, and allowed them to reside in Egypt.

During 1976 relations were ebbing, as the Egyptian government claimed to have discovered a Libyan plot to overthrow the government in Cairo. On January 26, 1976, Egyptian Vice President Hosni Mubarak indicated in a talk with the US Ambassador Hermann Eilts that the Egyptian government intended to exploit internal problems in Libya to promote actions against Libya, but did not elaborate. On July 22, 1976, the Libyan government made a public threat to break diplomatic relations with Cairo if Egyptian subversive actions continued. On August 8, 1976, an explosion occurred in the bathroom of a government office in Tahrir Square in Cairo, injuring 14, and the Egyptian government and media claimed this was done by Libyan agents. The Egyptian government also claimed to have arrested two Egyptian citizens trained by Libyan intelligence to perform sabotage within Egypt. On August 23, an Egyptian passenger plane was hijacked by persons who reportedly worked with Libyan intelligence. They were captured by Egyptian authorities in an operation that ended without any casualties. In retaliation for accusations by the Egyptian government of Libyan complicity in the hijacking, the Libyan government ordered the closure of the Egyptian Consulate in Benghazi.

The Libyan government claimed to have uncovered an Egyptian espionage network in Libya. US diplomatic circles viewed this tension as a sign of Libyan intentions to go to war against Egypt, and one diplomat observed:

LARG Libyan Arab Republic Government anticipates military attack from Egypt, which it hopes to exploit and cause overthrow of Sadat.

Throughout 1976 the Egyptian government was concentrating troops along the Libyan border. It enjoyed the support of the US government, who viewed Libya negatively, and was promised by Washington that no move in US-Libyan relations was to be made without consultation with Cairo. Policy experts in the US and Britain assessed that Sadat was planning an attack on Libya in order to overthrow Gaddafi. Relations kept deteriorating, and in early May 1977 Sadat turned down an American request to engage in reconciliation talks with the Libyan government.

Tensions between the two countries had increased during April and May 1977, as demonstrators attacked each other’s embassies. In June 1977, Libyan leader Gaddafi ordered the 225,000 Egyptians working and living in Libya to leave the country by July 1 or face arrest.

22 July 1977

Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping is restored to power.

On this day in 22 July 1977, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping was restored to power after 10 years in exile.

“I don’t care if it’s a white cat or a black cat,” Deng Xiaoping once uttered, “it’s a good cat as long as it catches mice.” It was this sort of pragmatism that helped Deng to lead the transformation of China into the economic powerhouse it is today. Over the years he was a leader of the Communist Party of China, the People’s Liberation Army of China, and the People’s Republic of China. He was a military strategist, a revolutionary, and a statesman, and he was the great architect of the country’s modernisation, its opening up to the international community, and the transformation of traditional socialism into the socialist market economy.

Deng was effectively in charge of China in the years after his restoration to power, from 1978 to 1992, but only after a slow and arduous rise to the top. He was born into a family of Hakka Han ethnicity in Guang’an County, Sichuan Province, on 22 August 1904. His father Deng Wenming was a landowner, and his mother Deng Dan died when he was still a child.

In 1920, when he was just 16 years old, Deng Xiaoping travelled to France as part of the Mouvement Traivail-Etudes work-study abroad initiative. The night prior to his departure, his father asked him what he hoped to achieve and—rather prophetically—he responded, “To learn knowledge and truth from the West in order to save China.”

After crossing the oceans to Marseilles by boat, he studied at schools in Bayeux and Chatillon, and worked a number of jobs including as a fireman on a locomotive and a fitter in a Renault factory. The work was dangerous and poorly paid and it was there—he later explained—that Deng started to understand the disadvantages of capitalism, and to study Marxism.

In 1926 he travelled to the Soviet Union to study at Moscow Sun Yat-sen University, and it was there that he met his first wife. They returned to China and married but, tragically, she died only days after giving birth to their baby girl, who also died. Then in 1933 Deng’s second wife, Jin Weiying, abandoned him after he came under political attack for fighting for the Communist Party. However, after their subsequent victory, and the founding of the People’s Republic of China, his political career took off; so much so that Mao Zedong eventually started to perceive him as a threat.

After the start of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, Deng was exiled to a lowly existence as an ordinary worker in the Xinjian County Tractor Factory in rural Jiangxi Province, and his family were attacked by the Red Guards; his son Deng Pufang was tortured and thrown out of fourth-floor window, which left him paraplegic.

After Mao’s death on 9 September 1976 everything changed once more, and suddenly Deng was again the de facto leader. On 22 July 1977 he was officially restored to power—appointed Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee, Vice-Chairman of the Military Commission and Chief of the General Staff of the People’s Liberation Army—and so he was able to start the modernisation process that he so desired.

21 April 1977

The musical, Annie opens on Broadway.

Annie is a Broadway musical based upon the popular Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, with music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and book by Thomas Meehan. The original Broadway production opened in 1977 and ran for nearly six years, setting a record for the Alvin Theatre. It spawned numerous productions in many countries, as well as national tours, and won the Tony Award for Best Musical. The musical’s songs “Tomorrow” and “It’s the Hard Knock Life” are among its most popular musical numbers.

The original Broadway production opened at the Alvin Theatre on April 21, 1977 and starred Andrea McArdle as Annie, Reid Shelton as Daddy Warbucks, Dorothy Loudon as Miss Hannigan, and Sandy Faison as Grace Farrell. Danielle Brisebois was one of the orphans. It was nominated for eleven Tony Awards and won seven, including the Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book. Replacements in the title role on Broadway included then-child actors Shelley Bruce, Sarah Jessica Parker, Allison Smith and Alyson Kirk. Replacements in the role of Miss Hannigan included Alice Ghostley, Dolores Wilson, Betty Hutton, Marcia Lewis, and June Havoc. Ann Ungar understudied and played for Dorothy Loudon in the role of Miss Hannigan. She also understudied Alice Ghostley and Dolores Wilson. The show closed on January 2, 1983, after a total of 2,377 performances, setting a record for the longest running show at the Alvin Theatre, until it was surpassed by Hairspray in 2009.

10 March 1977

Astronomers discover the rings of the planet Uranus.

For being the third largest body in our solar system not including the Sun, there really wasn’t much info about Uranus until the invention of powerful modern telescopes. While astronomers have known of it’s existence since the 16th century, it wasn’t until 1781 that Englishman William Hershel confirmed it as the seventh planet from the sun.

Named after Zeus’s grandfather Uranus, best remembered for being castrated by his son Saturn, the hilariously named planet was only a blue blip until 1977. Astronomers using the Kuiper Airborne Observatory discovered a series of rings the circled Uranus around it’s uniquely tilted axis. This marked the second such celestial feature alongside fellow gas giant Saturn.

Years later the solar system observer Voyager arrived near Uranus and confirmed that Uranus not only had a complicated system of rings, but also 27 moons of various sizes. With a new discovery at every turn the question remains, what new wonders does Uranus have in store for us next?

24 July 1977

The end of a four day Libyan Egyptian War.

the-military_Egypt_Sadat_Sam_missiles_Suez_1974_730px_01843848_3aa2487699

The Libyan–Egyptian War was a short border war between Libya and Egypt in July 1977. On July 21, 1977, there were first gun battles between troops on the border, followed by land and air strikes. On July 24, the combatants agreed to a ceasefire under the mediation of the President of Algeria Houari Boumediène and the Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat.

In June 1977, thousands of Libyan protesters began a “March on Cairo” as they headed towards the Egyptian border. The Libyans wanted to demonstrate against the increasing likelihood that Egypt would enter into a peace treaty with Israel. On July 20, after the protest march was stopped by Egyptian border guards, Libyan artillery units fired at Egypt in Sallum.

On July 21, 1977 Libyan forces carried out a raid on Sallum. The raid was carried out by the 9th Tank Battalion and supported by a few Mirage 5 aircraft.

Anwar Sadat and his generals ordered 3 divisions to head to the Libyan border when news of the advancing Libyan tanks reached them. The three divisions quickly beat back the Libyan brigades, destroying most of their equipment. The Egyptian Air Force and 3 divisions of the Egyptian Army stormed across the Libyan border and captured some key border towns. Libyan military bases in Al Adm, Kufra and Umm Alayan were bombed.

Other Arab states then asked Sadat not to launch a full-scale invasion of Libya. Sadat heeded their call and forced Libya into a ceasefire. The Egyptian Army then withdrew from occupied territory.

31 May 1977

The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System is finished.

With the laying of the first section of pipe on March 27, 1975, construction began on what at the time was the largest private construction project in American history.A deciding vote in the U.S. Senate by Vice President Spiro Agnew had passed the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act on July 17, 1973.

Years of debate about the project’s environmental impact escalated. Concerns were raised about earthquakes and elk migrations.The 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline system, including pumping stations, connecting pipelines, and the ice-free Valdez Marine Terminal, ended up costing billions. The last pipeline weld was completed on May 31, 1977.

On June 20, 1977, oil from the North Slope’s Prudhoe Bay field began flowing to the port of Valdez at four miles an hour through the 48-inch-wide pipe. It arrived at the port 38 days later.The completed pipeline system, at a cost of $8 billion, including terminal and pump stations, will transport about 20 percent of U.S. petroleum production.

Tax revenues alone earned Alaskans about $50 billion by 2002.Special engineering was required to protect the environment in difficult construction conditions, according to Alyeska Pipeline Service Company.

Details about the pipeline’s history include:Oil was first discovered in Prudhoe Bay on the North Slope in 1968.
Alyeska Pipeline Service Company was established in 1970 to design, construct, operate and maintain the pipeline.
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System cross the ranges of the Central Arctic heard on the North Slope and the Nelchina Herd in the Copper River Basin.

The Valdez Terminal covers 1,000 acres and has facilities for crude oil metering, storage, transfer and loading.
The pipeline project involved some 70,000 workers from 1969 through 1977.The first pipe of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System was laid on March 27, 1975. Last weld was completed May 31, 1977.The pipeline is often referred to as “TAPS” – an acronym for the Trans Alaska Pipeline System.First oil moved through the pipeline on June 20, 1977.

25 May 1977

Star Wars is first released in theaters.

On this day in 1977, Memorial Day weekend opens with an intergalactic bang as the first of George Lucas’ blockbuster Star Wars movies hits American theaters.

The incredible success of Star Wars–it received seven Oscars, and earned $461 million in U.S. ticket sales and a gross of close to $800 million worldwide–began with an extensive, coordinated marketing push by Lucas and his studio, 20th Century Fox, months before the movie’s release date. “It wasn’t like a movie opening,” actress Carrie Fisher, who played rebel leader Princess Leia, later told Time magazine. “It was like an earthquake.” Beginning with–in Fisher’s words–“a new order of geeks, enthusiastic young people with sleeping bags,” the anticipation of a revolutionary movie-watching experience spread like wildfire, causing long lines in front of movie theaters across the country and around the world.

With its groundbreaking special effects, Star Wars leaped off screens and immersed audiences in “a galaxy far, far away.” By now everyone knows the story, which followed the baby-faced Luke Skywalker as he enlisted a team of allies–including hunky Han Solo and the robots C3PO and R2D2–on his mission to rescue the kidnapped Princess Leia from an Evil Empire governed by Darth Vader. The film made all three of its lead actors overnight stars, turning Fisher into an object of adoration for millions of young male fans and launching Ford’s now-legendary career as an action-hero heartthrob.