Kinda late but didn't realize it hasn't been posted... the 71 people who died in the airplane crash in Colombia, due to bad planning by the pilot and not enough fuel on board.
Among which was the majority of the Chapecoense football squad who was en route to play their first ever South American Cup final with a Colombian club.
Certainly not as famous as some people here, they were a small Brazilian club who was punching way above its weight, and doing well, eliminating former champions along the way to the finals. They boarded a plane towards their dream, and carelessness, cutting costs, and general bad practice turned it into a nightmare.
Other fatalities include most of the flight crew, journalists and other club staff.
It's really hard for me to believe he's gone. It's difficult for me to remember not knowing who he was and what he'd done. On February 20, 1962 I was 12 years old and in the seventh grade. For many days, the newspapers had been full of write-ups about Glenn and how he was going to fly three complete orbits of the earth in a space capsule. At the time, it was such a historic event that our junior high school piped the entire flight over the PA system. He was well and truly someone who was able "to go where no one has gone before".
True enough? and, I don?t want to turn this into a ?mine?s bigger than?? exercise, but there were some very distinct differences in the way the Soviet Vostok program was carried out versus the Mercury program. While both Gagarin and Titov orbited the earth before Glenn, they were both basically just passengers in their capsules, which were controlled from earth-based stations. Titov did take manual control of his capsule for a short time, but neither Russian cosmonaut landed with his vehicle.
Glenn, on the other hand, took control of his capsule early in the flight and handled many (if not most) of the navigational changes that were required. He also controlled most of the splashdown sequence, working his way through an emergency caused by a faulty heat shield sensor, which precipitated a series of events that eventually resulted in part of the retro-rocket system breaking up during re-entry. He was finally forced to switch to an automatic dampening system to stabilize the ship, a decision which allowed an as-planned safe water landing? So, yeah, my comment stands as typed.
All that being said, it takes away nothing from the bravery of Gagarin, Titov and the other cosmonauts and astronauts ? it takes real guts to strap yourself onto the top of a rocket and be blasted out of the earth?s atmosphere; especially in those days when there was so little test data to fall back on. All of those pioneer space explorers deserve our everlasting respect. The difference with Glenn was that his involvement in the flight and his cool, measured actions when things went wrong forever gave him super-hero status with my generation and, at least in our eyes, made him the first real ?rocket man?.