1 May 1994

The 3-time Formula One world champion Ayrton Senna is killed in an accident whilst leading the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.

Brazil’s three-time Formula One world champion Senna was killed in an accident during the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola on May 1st, 1994. The circuit is being opened to the public from the 20th anniversary on Thursday through to May 4th.

Roland Ratzenberger, the Austrian driver who died the day before Senna in a crash on the same track during qualifying, will also be remembered.

Past and current figures from F1 are set to be present for a series of events, from which a part of each day’s proceeds will go towards the Ayrton Senna Institute’s charitable works.

Around the Imola site – where the paddock and pits will be open and people will be able to either drive, cycle or travel on foot around the track – there will be a commemorative ceremony, as well as exhibitions and talks, including a presentation on safety in F1.

A lasting legacy of the deaths of Senna and Ratzenberger was the impact they had on the attitudes towards driver safety in the sport. It is testament to the measures implemented since, that Senna, who was 34, remains the last driver to die over the course of an F1 weekend.

The Sao Paulo native was truly a sporting superstar at the time of his death, and has attained almost demigod status in his home country. He made his F1 debut in 1984 with Toleman and, after moving to Lotus, secured two fourth-placed championship finishes and then third spot in 1987.

In 1988 he joined McLaren as team-mate to Alain Prost, and from there, one of the greatest rivalries in F1 history played out.

Senna pipped the Frenchman to the title that year, saw Prost take it ahead of him in 1989, and was then crowned champion in each of the following two seasons, becoming the then-youngest three-time champion in history in 1991 at the age of 31.

In 1992 he came fourth and was then second in 1993 as Prost, who had moved to Williams, claimed his fourth title.

Senna finally joined Williams himself for the 1994 campaign, with Prost deciding to retire as he refused to be his team-mate again. The Brazilian made his worst start to a season with two retirements in the opening two races. The third race, which proved to be his last, was at Imola.

Senna, who was leading at the time, crashed on lap seven, smashing into a wall at the Tamburello Curve and sustaining fatal head injuries.

Brazil’s president Itamar Franco ordered three days of national mourning, and when Senna’s body was flown back to his home city, an estimated three million people lined the streets to pay their respects as it made a 20-mile journey from the airport to the building where he lay in state.

Once there, the queue of those who wished to pay their last respects is understood to have stretched for three miles, some suggesting it was seven hours before the last of the 200,000 mourners shuffled past.

23 March 1994

Aeroflot Flight 593 crashed in, Kemerovo Oblast, Russia, killing 75.

Aeroflot Flight 593 was a regular passenger flight from Sheremetyevo International Airport, Moscow, to Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong. On 23 March 1994, the aircraft operating the route, an Airbus A310-304 flown by Aeroflot – Russian International Airlines, crashed into a mountain range in Kemerovo Oblast, Russia, killing all 63 passengers and 12 crew members on board.

No evidence of a technical malfunction was found. Cockpit voice and flight data recorders revealed the presence of the relief pilot’s 12-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son on the flight deck. While seated at the controls, the pilot’s son had unknowingly disengaged the A310’s autopilot control of the aircraft’s ailerons. The autopilot then disengaged completely causing the aircraft to roll into a steep bank and a near-vertical dive. Despite managing to level the aircraft, the first officer over-corrected when pulling up, causing the plane to stall and enter into a corkscrew dive; the pilots managed to level the aircraft off once more, but by then the plane had lost too much altitude to recover and crashed into the Kuznetsk Alatau mountain range.

The aircraft involved in the accident was a leased Airbus A310-304, registration F-OGQS, serial number 596, that was delivered new to Aeroflot on 11 December 1992. Powered with two General Electric CF6-80C2A2 engines, the airframe had its maiden flight as F-WWCS on 11 September 1991, and was one of five operating for Russian Airlines, an autonomous division of Aeroflot – Russian International Airlines that was set up for serving routes to the Russian Far East and Southeast Asia. On average, the crew of three operating the aircraft had logged 900 hours on the type.

The captain of Flight 593 was Andrey Viktorovich Danilov, 40, who was hired by Aeroflot in November 1992. He had accrued over 9,675 hours of flight time, including 950 hours in the A310, of which 895 hours were as captain. The first officer was Igor Vasilyevich Piskaryov, 33, hired by Aeroflot in October 1993, who had 5,885 hours of flight time, including 440 hours in the A310. The relief pilot was Yaroslav Vladimirovich Kudrinsky, 39, who was hired by Aeroflot in November 1992; he had over 8,940 flying hours, including 907 hours in the A310. Kudrinsky also had experience in the Yakovlev Yak-40, Antonov An-12, and Ilyushin Il-76. There were nine flight attendants on board the plane.

On 23 March 1994, the jet aircraft was en route from Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow to Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong with 75 occupants aboard, of whom 63 were passengers. Most of the passengers were businessmen from Hong Kong and Taiwan who were looking for economic opportunities in Russia.

Relief pilot Kudrinsky was taking his two children on their first international flight, and they were brought to the cockpit while he was on duty. Five people were thus on the flight deck: Kudrinsky, co-pilot Piskaryov, Kudrinsky’s children Eldar and Yana, and another pilot, Vladimir Makarov, who was flying as a passenger.

With the autopilot active, Kudrinsky, against regulations, let the children sit at the controls. First, his daughter Yana took the pilot’s left front seat. Kudrinsky adjusted the autopilot’s heading to give her the impression that she was turning the plane, though she actually had no control of the aircraft. Shortly thereafter, Kudrinsky’s son Eldar occupied the pilot’s seat. Unlike his sister, Eldar applied enough force to the control column to contradict the autopilot for 30 seconds. This caused the flight computer to switch the plane’s ailerons to manual control while maintaining control over the other flight systems. A silent indicator light came on to alert the pilots to this partial disengagement. The pilots, who had previously flown Russian-designed planes which had audible warning signals, apparently failed to notice it.

Eldar was the first to notice a problem, when he observed that the plane was banking right. Shortly after, the flight path indicator changed to show the new flight path of the aircraft as it turned. Since the turn was continuous, the resulting predicted flight path drawn on screen was a 180-degree turn. This indication is similar to those shown when in a holding pattern, where a 180-degree turn is required to remain in a stable position. This confused the pilots for nine seconds, during which time the plane banked past a 45-degree angle to almost 90 degrees, steeper than the design allowed. The A310 cannot turn this steeply while maintaining height, and the plane started to lose altitude quickly. The increased g-forces on the pilots and crew made it extremely difficult for them to regain control. The autopilot, which no longer controlled the ailerons, used its other controls in order to compensate, pitching the nose up and increasing thrust; as a result the plane began to stall; the autopilot, unable to cope, disengaged completely. A second, larger indicator light came on to alert the pilots of the complete disengagement, and this time they did notice it. At the same time, the autopilot’s display screen went blank. To recover from the stall, an automatic system lowered the nose and put the plane into a nosedive. The reduced g-forces enabled Kudrinsky to re-take his seat. Piskaryov then managed to pull out of the dive, but over-corrected, putting the plane in an almost vertical ascent, again stalling the plane, which fell out of the sky into a corkscrew dive. Although Kudrinsky and Piskaryov regained control and leveled out the wings, they did not know how far they had descended during the crisis and their altitude by then was too low to recover. The plane crashed at high vertical speed, estimated at 70 m/s. All 75 occupants died from impact.

The aircraft crashed with its landing gear up, and all passengers had been prepared for an emergency, as they were strapped into their seats. No distress calls were made prior to the crash. Despite the struggles of both pilots to save the aircraft, it was later concluded that if they had just let go of the control column, the autopilot would have automatically taken action to prevent stalling, thus avoiding the accident.

The wreckage was located on a remote hillside in the Kuznetsk Alatau mountain chain, approximately 20 kilometres east of Mezhdurechensk, Kemerovo Oblast, Russia; the flight data recorders were found on the second day of searching. Families of western victims placed flowers on the crash site, while families of Chinese victims scattered pieces of paper with messages written on them around the crash site.

The airline originally denied that the children were in the cockpit, but accepted the fact when the Moscow-based magazine Obozrevatel published the transcript on the week of Wednesday, 28 September 1994. The Associated Press said that, according to the transcript, “the Russian crew almost succeeded in saving the plane”. The New York Times said that “A transcript of the tape printed in the magazine Obozrevatel shows that the Russian crew nearly managed to save the Airbus plane and the 75 people on board, but that it was hampered by the presence of children and its unfamiliarity with the foreign-made plane.” The New York Times also stated that an analysis by an aviation expert published in Rossiiskiye Vesti supported that analysis.

12 March 1994

The first female priests are ordained by the Church of England.

Since the Church of England’s split with Rome in 1534, it’s always trodden a dainty path between the Catholicism of the High Church, and the Protestantism of the Reformation. That’s meant a fair few compromises. But one thing it didn’t compromise on for nearly 400 years was ordaining women as priests.

The idea was first tentatively floated in 1920. But it took until 1975 for the General Synod to pass a motion saying it had “no fundamental objections” to the ordination of women to the priesthood. But it didn’t actually do anything concrete about it.

In 1985 it passed laws allowing women to be deacons. But understandably, pressure continued to allow women into the priesthood.

That didn’t happen for a while. In 1988, the General Synod approved the draft legislation to allow women priests. It finally voted in favour of women priests in 1992, after a five-hour debate – and by just two votes.

And so, on 12 March 1994 in Bristol Cathedral, 32 women were ordained as priests.

But a lot of people weren’t happy. In fact, 400 vicars were so opposed to the idea of women priests that they flounced off en masse to the Roman Catholic Church.

And for those who stayed, but who couldn’t abide the idea of a woman in the pulpit, the rather bonkers plan of ‘flying bishops’ was devised – traditionalist bishops who could swoop down from on high, bringing manly ministrations to parishes who wanted their vicar to be a chap.

It took another 20 years for the even more outlandish idea of women bishops to be accepted, however. The Church only formally adopted legislation to allow that in November 2014. The Rt Rev Libby Lane, was ordained as the Bishop of Stockport in January 2015.

3 December 1994

The PlayStation was first released in Japan.

1200px-PSX-Console-wController

On December 3, 1994, the PlayStation was finally released in Japan, one week after the Sega Saturn. The initial retail cost was 37,000 yen, or about $387. Software available at launch included King’s Field, Crime Crackers, and Namco’s Ridge Racer, the PlayStation’s first certifiable killer app. It was met with long lines across Japan, and was hailed by Sony as their most important product since the WalkMan in the late 1970’s.

Also available at launch were a host of peripherals, including: a memory card to save high scores and games; a link cable, whereby you could connect two PlayStations and two TVs and play against a friend; a mouse with pad for PC ports; an RFU Adaptor; an S-Video Adaptor; and a Multitap Unit. Third party peripherals were also available, including Namco’s Negcon.

The look of the PlayStation was dramatically different than the Saturn, which was beige (in Japan), bulky, and somewhat clumsy looking. In contrast, the PlayStation was slim, sleek, and gray, with a revolutionary controller that was years ahead of the Saturn’s SNES-like pad. The new PSX joypad provided unheardof control by adding two more buttons on the shoulder, making a total of eight buttons. The two extended grips also added a new element of control. Ken Kutaragi realized the importance of control when dealing with 3 Dimensional game worlds. “We probably spent as much time on the joypad’s development as the body of the machine. Sony’s boss showed special interest in achieving the final version so it has his seal of approval.” To Sony’s delight, the PlayStation sold more than 300,000 units in the first 30 days. The Saturn claimed to have sold 400,000, but research has shown that number to be misleading. The PSX sold through (to customers) 97% of its stock, while many Saturns were still sitting on the shelves. These misleading numbers were to be quoted by Sega on many occasions, and continued even after the US launch.

9 November 1994

The chemical element darmstadtium is discovered.

aHR0cDovL3d3dy5saXZlc2NpZW5jZS5jb20vaW1hZ2VzL2kvMDAwLzA1OS80MDAvb3JpZ2luYWwvZGFybXN0YWR0aXVtLWJ1dHRvbi5qcGc=

Darmstadtium is a synthetic chemical element with symbol Ds and atomic number 110. It is an extremely radioactive synthetic element. The most stable known isotope, darmstadtium-281, has a half-life of approximately 10 seconds. Darmstadtium was first created in 1994 by the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research near the city of Darmstadt, Germany, after which it was named.

In the periodic table, it is a d-block transactinide element. It is a member of the 7th period and is placed in the group 10 elements, although no chemical experiments have yet been carried out to confirm that it behaves as the heavier homologue to platinum in group 10 as the eighth member of the 6d series of transition metals. Darmstadtium is calculated to have similar properties to its lighter homologues, nickel, palladium, and platinum.

Darmstadtium was first created on November 9, 1994, at the Institute for Heavy Ion Research in Darmstadt, Germany, by Peter Armbruster and Gottfried Münzenberg, under the direction of Sigurd Hofmann. The team bombarded a lead-208 target with accelerated nuclei of nickel-62 in a heavy ion accelerator and detected a single atom of the isotope darmstadtium.

In the same series of experiments, the same team also carried out the reaction using heavier nickel-64 ions. During two runs, 9 atoms of 271Ds were convincingly detected by correlation with known daughter decay properties.

9 November 1994

darmstadtium-l

The chemical element ‘darmstadtium’ is first discovered.

Darmstadtium was discovered by S. Hofmann, V. Ninov, F. P. Hessberger, P. Armbruster, H. Folger, G. Münzenberg, H. J. Schött, and others in 1994 at Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt, Germany.The name darmstadtium lies within the long established tradition of naming an element after the place of its discovery, Darmstadt, in Germany.

On the 9th of November 1994,the first atom of element 110, darmstadtium, was detected at the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt, Germany. The isotope discovered has an atomic number of 269 that is 269 times heavier than hydrogen.The new element was produced by fusing a nickel and a lead atom together. This was achieved by accelerating the nickel atoms to a high energy in the heavy ion accelerator UNILAC at GSI. Over a period of many days, many billion billion nickel atoms were fired at a lead target in order to produce and identify a single atom of darmstadtium.