A U.S. Air Force cargo plane crashed at Orting, Washington, killing all four of the crew on board. Witnesses reported that the C-118 had collided with another object in midair, and the incident has become part of UFO Lore. The pilot, Lt. Robert R. Dimmick, radioed "We have hit something, or something has hit us", moments before the crash.
The Navajo Nation Supreme Court came into existence, along with a set of district courts with jurisdiction in Navajo territory in Arizona and New Mexico.
After the Soviet Union restricted travel of American diplomats, the U.S. did the same for the Soviets in America.
NASA announced the names of the seven men chosen as astronauts for Project Mercury. Originally planning to select six men, the Space Task Group screened 508 records and found 110 candidates who met the minimum standards, interviewed 69, invited 32 to go through tests and narrowed the number down to 18. Deputy Administrator Robert Gilruth suggested picking the seven finalists with the most flying experience.
A superbolt, more powerful than an ordinary lightning bolt, struck a cornfield near Leland, Illinois, leaving a crater one foot deep, and breaking windows in homes almost a mile away.
The Soviet Union's Council for Russian Orthodox Church Affairs advised the Russian Orthodox patriarch of new measures to reduce the number of convents, followed by property and income tax increases on the convents.
In a speech at Gettysburg College, U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced the first American commitment to keeping South Vietnam as a separate, non-Communist nation. "We reach the inescapable conclusion", said Eisenhower, "that our own national interests demand some help from us in sustaining in Vietnam the morale, the economic progress and the military strength necessary to its continued existence in Freedom."
In Dortmund, West Germany, Rong Guotan of Communist China defeated Ferenc Sido of Hungary to win the 25th World Table Tennis Championships, becoming the first Chinese player to do so.
At the Southmoor Hotel in Chicago, black nationalist S.A. Davis, Chairman of the Joint Council of Repatriation, and eight of his associates met with George Lincoln Rockwell, white supremacist, and two of his associates in the American Nazi Party, to discuss a joint resolution in support of government-supported "repatriation" of African-Americans to a homeland on the African continent.
In Washington, the National Safety Council first warned parents about the risk of suffocation posed by plastic bags, particularly those used by dry cleaners. The AMA, as well as a trade association of dry cleaning stores, joined in the warning. In January, Dr. Paul B. Jarrett of Phoenix had begun a campaign to educate the public after five children had suffocated in the previous year.
For the first time, a radar signal was sent between the Earth and the Sun. A team led by Dr. Von R. Eshleman, Lt. Col. Robert C. Barthle, and Dr. Philip B. Gallagher, transmitted the beam from Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and received the return 17 minutes later. The morning experiments were repeated on April 10 and April 12, and the data was published in the journal Science on February 5, 1960.
By a margin of 386,845 to 314,380 voters in Oklahoma elected to repeal the state's constitutional prohibition on the sale of alcohol, leaving Mississippi as the only dry American state. Liquor sales began on September 1.
The town of Jackpot, Nevada, was founded. Located a few miles south of the border with Idaho, the gambling center was created after Idaho banned gambling.
Israel created the first Holocaust Memorial Day by vote of the Knesset in Tel Aviv, to be observed on the 27th day of Nisan, which fell on May 5 in 1959. If the 27th falls on a Friday, the observation is held on the 26th. In 2009, Nisan 27 was on April 21.
The Philippine government began use of the presidential yacht, the R.P.S. Lapu-Lapu (PY-77).
Grace Hopper and other persons met at the University of Pennsylvania to discuss a computer language that would be more applicable to programming for business than FORTRAN. Following the meeting, a task force overseen by Hopper created COmmon Business Oriented Language, or COBOL.
Actor George Reeves, who portrayed Superman on television, was injured when the brakes failed on his Jaguar automobile, and he crashed into a light pole near his home in Beverly Hills. Reeves suffered regular headaches after the accident, and died from a gunshot wound on June 16.
Thirty-four people, mostly children, were killed by a bomb left over from World War II. Fishermen had retrieved the 500 pound weapon from a sunken ship in the Lingayen Gulf near Dagupan City in the Philippines, and were taking apart the device while curious onlookers watched.
Died:Leonard Shockley, 17 or 18, became the last juvenile to be executed in the United States, dying in the gas chamber in Maryland at 10:04 pm. Shockley was the last person to be executed for a crime committed as a 16-year-old, until Sean Sellers, who was executed in Oklahoma on February 4, 1999, for a 1985 murder committed when he was 16.
The body of former Haitian presidential candidate Clement Jumelle was hijacked from the funeral procession in Port-au-Prince. It has been speculated that Haitian dictator François Duvalier wanted to use the brain in a voodoo ceremony.
The myth of the Chinese word for "crisis", perpetuated by Senator John F. Kennedy, who said "When written in Chinese, the word crisis is composed of two characters—one represents danger and the other represents opportunity."
The United States and Britain asked the Soviet Union to join in a moratorium on above-ground nuclear weapons testing.
The United States launched the Discoverer II satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 1:20 pm. The capsule was successfully ejected, but lost after a timing error sent it to Norway rather than Hawaii.
The Robert A. Taft Memorial, a carillon with 27 bells, was dedicated in Washington. President Eisenhower and former president Hoover delivered remarks before a crowd of 5,000 people.
The Atlas D was launched from Cape Canaveral in its first test. With a range of 10,360 miles, the missile could travel further than any previously produced in the United States. The rocket exploded soon after launch, as did two other Atlas D launches, until succeeding on July 29, 1959.
Twenty-six people were killed in the crash of a Mexican C-46 airplane, en route from Mexicali to Guayama. The Tigres Voladores Airlines plane exploded in midair as it made its approach. On board was Mexican film idol Pedro Infante. Infante's funeral would attract 110,000 fans.
For the first time in Switzerland's history, a woman was allowed to cast a vote. Although the nation's male voters had rejected universal suffrage on February 1, the Swiss canton of Vaud approved female participation in local elections. Mrs. Ida Pidoux became the first woman to exercise the new right, casting a ballot for candidates of her choice in Oulens-sur-Lucens.
In a game between the Kansas City Athletics and the Chicago White Sox, the Sox scored 11 runs in the seventh inning on only one base hit, and went on to win 20–6. John Callison singled to bring in two players who had reached base on Athletics' errors. After the bases were loaded, eight other players (including Callison) scored from third base by a player being walked, while another scored from third after a batter was struck by a pitch.
In 1955, Florence Houteff, whose husband Victor had founded the Branch Davidian sect in Waco, Texas, had predicted that God would establish the Kingdom of Palestine on April 22, 1959. The prophecy failed, but the Davidians continued, dying in a fire at Waco in 1993.
The press secretary for Ernesto de la Guardia, the President of Panama, charged that American actor John Wayne was financing an attempt by Roberto Arias to overthrow the government there. Wayne dismissed the accusations as ridiculous, and noted, "Roberto never talked politics, and I never heard him say anything about overthrowing the Panamanian government."
The bond graph was invented, described as "one of the most effective and most elegant tools for modeling system dynamics".
Omaha, winner of the 1935 Triple Crown, died at the age of 24 on a farm in Nebraska City, Nebraska. The horse was buried somewhere on the Ak-Sar-Ben Raceway grounds, but the location has been lost.
The St. Lawrence Seaway opened at 8:00 a.m.. The icebreaker D'Iberville was at the front of 70 ships that would sail from the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Ontario, starting at Montreal. At the same time, 600 miles away in Ogdensburg, New York, 19 cargo ships began the journey from the other end of the seaway. The project had taken five years and cost $475,000,000 with a majority of the funding from Canada. The Seaway was dedicated on June 26, 1959.
In Poplarville, Mississippi, a lynch mob kidnapped 23-year-old Mack Charles Parker from his jail cell. His body was found on May 4 in the Pearl River, where he was thrown after being tortured and killed.
A force of about 80 rebels invaded Panama from the Caribbean Sea in an attempt to overthrow the government there. Although Cuban dictator Fidel Castro denounced the attack along with other OAS members, it was believed that he had sponsored the attack.
Reds pitcher Willard Schmidt was the first major league baseball player to be hit by a pitch twice in the same inning in a game against the Milwaukee Braves, once by Lew Burdette and once by Bob Rush. Later, he was struck by a line drive hit by Johnny Logan. Only two other players have repeated the result, Frank Thomas of the Mets in 1962, and Brady Anderson in 1999
At 7:00 a.m. Eastern time, NBC's national broadcasts were shut down by a walkout of engineering personnel. The dispute arose over the planned airing of a Today show segment that had been recorded without union personnel. Programming resumed three hours later.
Former President Harry Truman told students at Columbia University that he had made the decision to drop nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and on Nagasaki because an invasion would have cost millions of lives.
The Vatican announced that Roman Catholics worldwide would receive dispensation to eat meat on Friday during the May Day holiday.
The U.S. Senate confirmed Clare Boothe Luce as ambassador to Brazil by 79–11 vote, in spite of efforts by Senator Wayne Morse to block the nomination. In thanking the Senate, Mrs. Luce then caused an uproar when she said in a statement, "My difficulties, of course, go some years back and began when Senator Wayne Morse was kicked in the head by a horse", referring to a 1951 accident in which the Senator's jaw had been broken, and calls were made for her resignation. Ambassador Luce quit on May 1. During the debate, Senator Everett Dirksen made a memorable gaffe in defending Mrs. Luce, saying "Why thresh old straws or beat an old bag of bones?"
^"Pope Gives May Day Meat Dispensation", Oakland Tribune, April 28, 1959, p1
^"Ike Backs Mrs. Luce In Row With Morse", Fresno Bee, April 29, 1959, p1
^"Mrs. Luce Quits As Envoy To Brazil; Blames Morse", Fresno Bee, May 1, 1959, p1
^Dean L. Yarwood, When Congress Makes a Joke: Congressional Humor Then and Now (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004), p47; "Did Senator Really Mean Clare Was 'An 'Old Bag of Bones'?" El Paso Herald-Post, April 29, 1959, p1