Today's Highlight in History:
On Jan. 18, 1911, the first landing of an aircraft on a ship took place as pilot Eugene B. Ely brought his Curtiss biplane in for a safe landing on the deck of the armored cruiser USS Pennsylvania in San Francisco Harbor.
On this date:
In 1778, English navigator Captain James Cook reached the present-day Hawaiian Islands, which he named the "Sandwich Islands."
In 1862, the 10th president of the United States, John Tyler, died in Richmond, Va., at age 71, shortly before he could take his seat as an elected member of the Confederate Congress.
In 1871, William I of Prussia was proclaimed German Emperor in Versailles, France.
In 1919, the Paris Peace Conference, held to negotiate peace treaties ending the (First) World War, opened in Versailles, France.
In 1943, during World War II, Jewish insurgents in the Warsaw Ghetto launched their initial armed resistance against Nazi troops, who eventually succeeded in crushing the rebellion. A U.S. ban on the sale of pre-sliced bread — aimed at reducing bakeries' demand for metal replacement parts — went into effect.
In 1949, Charles Ponzi, engineer of one of the most spectacular mass swindles in history, died destitute at a hospital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at age 66.
In 1957, a trio of B-52's completed the first non-stop, round-the-world flight by jet planes, landing at March Air Force Base in California after more than 45 hours aloft.
In 1967, Albert DeSalvo, who claimed to be the "Boston Strangler," was convicted in Cambridge, Mass., of armed robbery, assault and sex offenses. (Sentenced to life, DeSalvo was killed in prison in 1973.)
In 1970, David Oman McKay, the ninth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died at the age of 96.
In 1988, a China Southwest Airlines Ilyushin 18 crashed while on approach to Chongqing Airport, killing all 108 people on board.
In 1993, the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday was observed in all 50 states for the first time.
In 1994, Iran-Contra prosecutor Lawrence Walsh released his final report in which he said former President Ronald Reagan had acquiesced in a cover-up of the scandal, an accusation Reagan called "baseless."
Ten years ago: A suicide truck bombing outside the headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition in Baghdad killed at least 31 people. A 15-day hostage drama began at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis near Buckeye, where two inmates attempting to escape took two correctional officers hostage. (One guard was released midway through the ordeal; the other, a woman, was held the entire time, during which she was raped and beaten.) The New England Patriots earned their second trip to the Super Bowl in three seasons by defeating the Indianapolis Colts 24-14 in the AFC championship game; the Carolina Panthers defeated the Philadelphia Eagles, 14-3, in the NFC championship game.
Five years ago: Israeli troops begin to withdraw from Gaza after their government and Hamas militants declared an end to a three-week war. A star-studded pre-inaugural concert took place on the National Mall, featuring Bruce Springsteen, Bono and Beyonce, with President-elect Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, in attendance. The Arizona Cardinals of the NFC advanced to their first Super Bowl with a 32-25 win over the Philadelphia Eagles; the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens 23-14 to win the AFC Championship and reach their seventh Super Bowl.
One year ago: Former Democratic New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was indicted on charges that he'd used his office for personal gain, accepting payoffs, free trips and gratuities from contractors while the city was struggling to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. (Nagin, who later pleaded not guilty, faces trial in late Jan. 2014.)
Today's Birthdays: Movie director John Boorman is 81. Former Sen. Paul Kirk, D-Mass., is 76. Singer-songwriter Bobby Goldsboro is 73. Comedian-singer-musician Brett Hudson is 61. Actor-director Kevin Costner is 59. Country singer Mark Collie is 58. Actress Jane Horrocks is 50. Comedian Dave Attell is 49. Actor Jesse L. Martin is 45. Rapper DJ Quik is 44. Rock singer Jonathan Davis (Korn) is 43. Singer Christian Burns (BBMak) is 41. Former NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous is 41. Actor Derek Richardson is 38. Actor Jason Segel is 34. Actress Samantha Mumba is 31. Country singer Kristy Lee Cook (TV: "American Idol") is 30.
Thought for Today: "The compensation of growing old was simply this: that the passions remain as strong as ever, but one has gained — at last! — the power which adds the supreme flavor to existence, the power of taking hold of experience, of turning it round, slowly, in the light." — Virginia Woolf, English author (1882-1941).