History Book – An Olympic underdog, and a helicopter joyride

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, February 17th. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day. Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: the WORLD Radio History Book. Four decades ago, an Olympic underdog “brings home the gold.” Plus, a disgruntled private takes an Army helicopter for a joy ride.

But first, 95 years ago, the birth of an influential American magazine. Here’s Paul Butler.


PAUL BUTLER, REPORTER: We begin today in the roaring ’20s. Harold Ross is an editor for the weekly satirical magazine Judge. He, along with his journalist wife Jane Grant, begin dreaming of a humor magazine for more “sophisticated” readers—like themselves. 

And on February 21st, 1925, they release the first issue of their brain-child: The New Yorker magazine. 

The front cover features the fictional Eustace Tilley. He’s a dandy—or a flamboyant, fashionable, man devoted to leisure. He’s dressed in a Victorian-era suit, wearing an extremely high collar and ostentatious top hat. He’s holding a monocle while studying a butterfly. Every February, the magazine pays homage to that first cover. The illustration is by graphic artist Rea Irvin. It sets the standard for the more than 4,400 covers that follow. 

MOULY: I’m often asked which one is my favorite, but I can’t pick one. 

In 2017, art director Françoise Mouly hosted a TedTalk, where she spoke of the powerful commentary often captured in a single, front cover image. 

MOULY: You know, a free press, is essential to our democracy. And we can see from the sublime to the ridiculous..in a way that an artist armed with just india ink and watercolor can capture and enter the cultural dialog.

A quick scan of past covers illustrate The New Yorker’s editorial decisions that highly favor the left, and liberal causes, yet they usually maintain high reporting ethics and standards.

Next, February 17th, 1974. A fatigue green, Huey helicopter speeds toward Washington, D.C. In pursuit, two State Police JetRangers and a couple officers on the ground. 

Using a dogfight maneuver, the stolen Army helicopter evades one of the police choppers and then races on toward the White House. The pilot unexpectedly stops near the Washington Monument. Trooper Don Swell alerts the control tower and secret service. Audio here from an NBC television news report: 

NEWS CLIP: After hovering there for about a minute and a half, the aircraft started a forward movement toward the White House…

As the Army helicopter clears the White House fence, the Secret Service suddenly turn on security floodlights and fire more than 300 rounds at the intruder. The pilot sustains minor injuries and sets the chopper down on the lawn.

NEWS CLIP: The joy riding pilot was identified as 20-year old PFC Robert Preston, a flight mechanic unhappy about flunking out of flight school. 

Private Preston is charged with “unlawful entry to Whitehouse grounds” and serves one year in prison for the stunt. After the scare, the Secret Service increase the restricted airspace around the White House. There’s been at least one other similar instance, when twenty years later, a pilot crashes a Cesena 150 on the south lawn. After 9-11, the military install an Avenger missile system near the residence, capable of taking out an incoming plane or drone. 

And finally, 40 years ago this week, in Lake Placid, New York:

ANNOUNCER: The excitement, the tension is building. The Olympic Center filling to capacity. Hello again everybody I’m Al Michaels…

On February 22nd, 1980, an under-rated American hockey team faces-off against what many believe to be the best ice hockey team in the world—ever—the Russians. 

ANNOUNCER: What we have at hand is the rarest of sporting events, an event that needs no buildup, no superfluous adjectives… 

Going into the winter games, no one expected the American hockey team to medal. In fact, team captain Mike Eruzione said he thought they’d end up somewhere between 7th and 10th place—if they were lucky. 

The Russians had won five of the six previous Olympic gold medals. And just two weeks before the Olympics began—the two teams played an exhibition match at Madison Square Garden. The Russians won 10 to 3. 

GAME SOUND/ANNOUNCER: They’ll be playing a much better team, a team better than they are… 

Throughout the Winter Games, the U.S. hockey team surpassed those expectations. With a record of 4 wins, 1 tie, and no losses, they advanced to the semifinals where they faced the undefeated Russians. 

GAME SOUND/ANNOUNCER: Here we go as the game is underway, the Soviet Union in red, the Americans in white…

The U.S. fell behind early, but fought back to end the first period tied at 2 to 2. During the second period, the Russians scored once. In the final period, the Americans tied it up after a Russian penalty. Then, with 10 minutes left to play, Mike Eruzione put the biscuit in the basket, putting the U.S. up 4 to 3. 

GAME SOUND/ANNOUNCER: Here’s Eruzione using the defenseman as a screen, a good low shot. There’s bedlam! 

The Russians increased their attack, but couldn’t score. As time ran out, ABC announcer Al Michaels uttered the now famous call. 

GAME SOUND: [CROWD CHEERING] The countdown going on right now! Morrow, up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? YES!

In 2016, Sports Illustrated declared the Miracle on Ice the “greatest moment in sporting history.” The United States team advanced to the final match with Finland, where the Americans won 4 to 2, earning Olympic gold.

That’s this week’s WORLD Radio History Book, I’m Paul Butler.

(Photo/History) U.S. hockey team

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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