On this Day May 15
1896 – Seventy-three people are killed and homes and businesses are leveled when a powerful tornado churns through Sherman, Texas. The twister is believed to be a rare F5 tornado, with winds exceeding 260 miles per hour.
1930 – Ellen Church, a registered nurse and licensed pilot, becomes the world’s first airline stewardess, working Boeing Air Transport’s (predecessor to United Airlines) Oakland, California to Chicago route.
1940 – A new chapter in women’s fashion is written with the introduction of the nylon stocking, which lands on store shelves across New York City. By the end of the day, shoppers purchase 780,000 pairs. By the end of 1940, more than 64 million pairs of nylons sell. However, the following year, with the U.S. drawn into World War II, the three most common sheer stocking materials — silk, nylon, and rayon — are sacrificed to the war effort.
1963 – The final Mercury mission begins with the launch of Faith 7. Astronaut Gordon Cooper becomes the first American to spend more than a day in space. He orbits Earth 22 times in 34 hours and 20 minutes — the longest U.S. space flight at that time.
2009 – After decades of environmental damage and legal wrangling, General Electric (GE) finally begins its government-mandated effort to clean the Hudson River. Between 1947 and 1977, GE dumped an estimated 1.3 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the waterway.