This Day In History, November 12th

What happened on this day in history: The first Mothman sighting is reported in West Virginia, two planes collide above Charkhi Dadri, India, and more.

1666: Mary Astell Is Born

Writer and philosopher Mary Astell is born in Newcastle upon Tyne. Known as the “first English feminist,” Astell spent her life advocating for women to have the same educational opportunities as men. Her most famous book, A Serious Proposal to the Ladies, suggested that women who didn’t marry or become nuns should live, study, and teach together in secular convents, though her controversial idea never caught on.

1859: Jules Léotard Performs The First Flying Trapeze Act

Jules Leotard

Wikimedia CommonsJules Léotard, c. 1860s.

French acrobat Jules Léotard, inventor of the fitted athletic wear that bears his name, performs the first flying trapeze act at the Cirque Napoléon in Paris. Léotard’s father had been a gymnastics teacher who taught Léotard everything he knew. The 21-year-old stunned onlookers in Paris when he became the first person to perform a mid-air somersault and jump from one trapeze to another.

1941: The Murder Inc. Trials Begin

After a series of confessions from former mob hitman Abraham Reles, high-ranking members of the infamous Murder Inc. begin their trials. The very same day, Reles was found dead after falling six stories out of his hotel room window.

1966: First Recorded Mothman Sighting

Five men in a Clendenin, West Virginia cemetery see a strange, winged creature flying out of nearby trees, marking the first sighting of the fabled Mothman.

Drawing Mothman Dark Red Eyes Myths Legends

Steve Baxter, FlickrA drawing of the Mothman of Point Pleasant.

Over the next few months, numerous other residents reported similar incidents. A local sheriff claimed it was simply a large heron or crane, but people who’d seen the creature insisted it looked like a “large flying man with ten-foot wings.” When the Silver Bridge collapsed the following year, killing 46 people, it was connected to the Mothman sightings.

Listen above to the History Uncovered podcast, episode 93: The Mothman And The Silver Bridge Collapse, also available on Apple and Spotify.

1969: Johnny Gosch Is Born

Johnny Gosch is born in Des Moines, Iowa. Gosch would make headlines after disappearing while working his newspaper route in 1982. Witnesses at the scene reported that Gosch had been speaking to a man in a blue car before his disappearance. Years later, another boy disappeared from the same area, sparking rumors that a predator was operating in the area. His case inspired the practice of putting photos of missing children on the back of milk cartons.

Gosch’s case is still unsolved to this day, and it is shrouded in mystery. Over the 40 years he has been missing, Gosch has been sighted by many different people. Whether these sightings are true, investigators are still unsure.

1996: The Charkhi Dadri Mid-Air Collision

Charkhi Dadri Collision

Robert Nickelsberg/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty ImagesWreckage the morning after the Charkhi Dadri mid-air crash.

Saudia Flight 763 and Kazakhstan Airlines Flight 1907 collide mid-air over the village of Charkhi Dadri, killing everyone aboard both planes.

The Saudia flight had just departed from the Delhi airport, while the Kazakhstan Airlines flight was descending to land there. The tail of the Kazakhstan Airlines plane sliced through the left wing of the Saudia plane, and both began spiraling toward the ground. Six passengers survived the initial impact but died soon after, bringing the total death toll to 349.