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On this day in history - August 17

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.

Illustration of stork, signifying birth

Births On This Day,
August 17

  • 1960 Sean Penn

    American actor, director

  • 1949 Norm Coleman

    American politician

  • 1943 Robert De Niro

    American actor

  • 1911 Mikhail Botvinnik

    Russian chess player

  • 1786 Davy Crockett

    American soldier, politician

Illustration of tombstone, signifying death

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

    Prussian king