What Happened On This Day – August 17
2008 Michael Phelps Earns his 8th Gold Medal in the 2008 Olympics
The American champion swimmer won the medal in the 4×100-meter medley relay race in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics. With this medal, he broke the record for the most gold medals won by a person in a single Olympic games, a record previously held by American swimmer Mark Spitz.
1978 Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson, and Larry Newman become the first people to complete the world's First Transatlantic Balloon Flight
The feat was accomplished in a balloon called the Double Eagle II. It took Abruzzo, Anderson, and Newman 6 days to fly from Preque Isle, Maine to a barley field near Paris.
1970 Venera 7 launched by the Soviet Union
Launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Venera 7 became the first spacecraft to land on another planet, Venus, and send data back to Earth. It entered Venus’ atmosphere in December 1970.
1960 Gabon gains independence from the French
France had occupied Gabon since the latter part of the 1800's. In 1910, the Equatorial country was added to French Equatorial Africa, a federation of France's Central African colonies. From 1934 to 1958, French Equatorial Africa was considered by France as an unified colony.
Births On This Day – August 17
1960 Sean Penn
American actor, director
1949 Norm Coleman
1943 Robert De Niro
1911 Mikhail Botvinnik
Russian chess player
1786 Davy Crockett
American soldier, politician
Deaths On This Day – August 17
1988 Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq
Pakistani politician, 6th President of Pakistan
1935 Charlotte Perkins Gilman
American sociologist, novelist
1880 Ole Bull
Norwegian violinist, composer
1850 José de San Martín
Argentinian general, politician, 1st President of Peru
1786 Frederick the Great