The story behind Aeroflot Flight 6502

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What was the most irresponsible wager you’ve ever made in life? For pilots Alexander Klyuyev and Gennady Zhirnoc, it was whether or not the former could land the commercial plane he was flying without any vision. As you’d expect stupid bets to go, the results were disastrous.

The incident

On the 20th of October, 1986, a was on a domestic passenger flight from Yaketerinburg to Grozny. Sometime during their cruise over the Ural Mountains, Gennady came up with the bright idea of putting Alexander’s skill to the test.

The terms of his wager were simple: Alexander had to land…


Was Jeffrey Dampier lucky or unlucky for winning big?

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Jeffrey Dampier took home $20 million after winning the 1996 Illinois Lottery.

While the security guard from Chicago’s West Side had , he won it big and split the prize evenly with his first wife. And while we all fantasize about the life we could live with a huge windfall, Jeffrey’s story shows it isn’t always margaritas on the beach.

The build-up to the crime

Money troubles caused Dampier and his first wife to split, dividing the prize money equally.

But with 10 million dollars, it wasn’t too hard for him to find another lover. …


These dogs were loyal even in the hellish trenches of war

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Drawing of a Mercy Dog (1918), Illustrated by Alexander Pope, Public Domain via

I believe, as gospel truth, in the saying, “a dog is a man’s best friend.” And never was this more exhibited as certain through the service of “” in the dangerous trenches of World War I. These clever canines assisted soldiers, saved lives, and served as a source of respite to those dying for their motherland.

What did mercy dogs do?


Japanese forces during World War II gave no reprieve to the hospital’s sick and injured patients

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Prisoners of war in Singapore (1942), by an unknown photographer, CC BY 4.0 via

Much has been written about the horrors committed by the Japanese in Asia during World War II. Thousands died in the infamous and even more in the .

However, many people forget that Singapore, once a British colony and military stronghold, was also the site of many atrocities of war. They may have been smaller in scale, but they were just as tragic.

The colony was seen as a threat by the Japanese army, and so it was made their next target by early February 1942. After being chased out of the Malayan Peninsula, the British…


The French used to hate potatoes, but along came Antoine-Augustin Parmentier

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Who doesn’t love a good batch of French fries? Well, if you offered them to the French back in the 18th century, you’d be met with disgust. It’s hard to imagine a time when potatoes weren’t a beloved staple in the Western world, but back in the day, they were reviled for numerous causes by Europeans.

Seen as no better than cattle feed and even a potential cause of leprosy, the French largely shunned potatoes. The French Parliament even went so far as to in 1748!

Life-saving spud


Why is cutting the foreskin off of a penis a thing?

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Ancient Egyptian depiction of circumcision (c. 2350 BCE), uploaded by Goshow, CC BY-SA 3.0 via

The male genitalia comes in all forms, shapes, and sizes. There are fat penises, tiny weenies, thin dicks, and tall rods. But one fascinating variety (from a strictly historical perspective) is the circumcised penis.

Male circumcision is an ancient practice from various cultures that has survived to this day. It is the surgical removal of the foreskin from the penis, with some anesthesia applied to relieve the pain and stress. It’s estimated that around one-third of all men are circumcised for various reasons — some men for religious or cultural, others for medical reasons.

There are many theories about how…


During World War II, Great Britain devised a plan to poison German cows to ruin the country’s supply of meat

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World War II was a circus. With war crimes like the and the , one can’t blame members of the Allied forces for wanting revenge.

With so much death and frustration, even the supposed good-guys considered resorting to indiscriminate weapons with their consideration of biological warfare. One of the craziest yet true plans that emerged from this desperation for victory was “Operation Vegetarian,” a brutal strategy that would have infected thousands of Germans with a deadly disease.

The plan

With the threat of potential German invasion looming, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill issued orders to…


A species misunderstood and driven to oblivion

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A captured Thylacine (1869), photo by Victor Prout, Public Domain via

One enamored description of the beast from stated:

“The skin is beautifully striped with black and white on the back…Its mouth resembles that of a wolf, with large jaws opening almost to the ears. Its legs are short…and it has a sluggish appearance, but in running it bounds like a kangaroo, though not with such speed. The female carries its young in a pouch (facing back) like most other quadrupeds of the country.” — Martin, “

The thylacine, better known as the Tasmanian tiger, has drawn attention throughout its existence…


In the last years of the 19th Century, the US Post Office once rejected 25,000 Valentine’s Day Cards because they were too indecent.

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“… know that as I await your return come 14th of February, my skin remains warm in anticipation of your embrace. Indeed my body shall be all, all yours, as yours will be all, all mine, beloved.”

That’s my best attempt synthesizing love letters from the late 1800s with a dash of physical intimacy. The last sentence is straight from the notes of a novelist around that period who had the strong urge to make love upon the return of his partner. While the lines were definitely sexual, I doubt most people would think of it as obscene.

Unfortunately, authorities…


Boxing’s most prominent figure wasn’t born with his name

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Muhammad Ali in a boxing match (1966), from Action Images, Public Domain via

Arguably, the greatest competitor to bless the sport of boxing was Muhammad Ali. He won his first Olympic gold medal as a lightweight at eighteen and captured the world heavyweight title just four years later.

Ali’s unique ring-craft, which was a combination of fluid movement with solid strikes, made him “.” If anyone were ever curious about finding the artistic element in a martial art, I’d excitedly tell them to watch a Muhammad Ali fight.

And as much as I’d like to write out more praise for the man’s technical prowess, what…

Ben Kageyama

📜. History, true crime, and the occasional personal story | ✉️. |☕. Help fuel my coffee addiction?

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