On this day: the downing of Aerolinee Itavia Flight 870


The recovered wreckage in 2007. X

On the 27th of June, 1980, Aerolinee Itavia Flight 870 disappeared from the sky during a flight from Bologna to Palermo, Italy.

The plane crashed into the Tyrrhenian Sea, killing all eighty-one people on board.


While it was concluded by British investigators that a bomb on the aircraft caused the disaster, to this day Italian officials insist a missile was fired at the plane.

The disaster occurred in the middle of a wave of terrorist acts to hit Italy (such as the Bologna Bombing), fuelled by far left and right-wing groups in the country’s north.


On this day: the Irish government stands up to the Catholic Church

On the 12th of March, 1985, the government of the Republic of Ireland finally stood up to the powerful Catholic Church and legalised contraception.


Women leave Dublin on their protest journey to Belfast.

The 1970s saw feminists travelling to Belfast in Northern Ireland and returning home with contraceptives, risking arrest for importing illegal products. They were met by protestors upon their arrival home.

Illegal in the Republic in all circumstances until 1980, a new law allowed some contraception to be dispensed by a pharmacist to people with a doctor’s prescription.

This highly restrictive law was finally changed five years later, despite conservative opposition.


Some Americans were so outraged that “Holy Ireland” now allowed contraception, they wrote to the Prime Minister to complain.

Even so, advertising of contraceptives was still banned, and Ireland continued to have one of the highest birth rates in the developed world.

On this day: the Bologna Bombing

At 10:25am on the 2nd of August, 1980 Central Station in Bologna, Italy was bombed. Eight-five people were killed and more than two-hundred injured.

Members of the Italian neo-fascist group Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari were convicted of the crime. However, not only have they never claimed responsibility for the bombing, but significant misinformation was spread by various sources, meaning the conviction is still questioned by some.


box_strage_bolognathe neo-fascist bombing of the railway station in Bologna Italy 2nd August 1980

On this day: the opening of the Los Angeles Olympics

84_olympics_ceremonyLos Angeles Olympic Opening Ceremony.

The 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics opened on the 28th of July. The event was heavily boycotted by Eastern Bloc countries including the Soviet Union, in response to the West’s boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games.

1984_Summer_Olympics_logo_svgGames of the XXIII Olympiad

Los Angeles and Tehran were the only two cities to express an interest in hosting the event, but because of Iran’s political situation, and then the fact it was another country that chose to boycott, Los Angeles became the hosts of the Games by default.

800px-US_Olympics_Team_1984The 1984 U.S. Olympic team march into the Los Angeles Coliseum during the opening ceremony for the 1984 Summer Olympics.

The Olympics were officially opened by US President Ronald Reagan.

On this day: Elena Mukhina was born in 1960

Soviet gymnast Elena Mukhina

Born on the 1st of June, 1960, Soviet gymnast Elena Mukhina was a three-time World Champion in 1978. She was considered the USSR’s best chance to ‘save’ them from being beaten by Romania at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Though injured, she was forced back into training, where she broke her spine two weeks before the Olympics, becoming an instant quadriplegic.

Elena Mukhina

Due to the secretive attitude of communist Russia, Mukhina disappeared from international competition for some time before her condition came to be known outside of the Soviet Union. At first the authorities tried to blame the accident on her own poor judgement.

Mukhina later said that her first thought when she broke her spine was: “Thank God, I won’t be going to the Olympics.”

She eventually died of complications related to her accident.

Here are the four routines Mukhina performed to become All Around World Champion in 1978: