13 Times Friday 13th really lived up to its reputation
Friggatriskaidekaphobia (major props if you can pronounce that) is the fear of Friday 13th and no matter how non-superstitious we all claim to be, there's something about the date that makes people that little extra... edgy. It's estimated that $800 million worth of business is lost every time it occurs, because people refuse to fly, sell houses, make investments, and sometimes even to go to work. But it's fair to say some people have more reason than most not to trust Friday 13th. Without further ado, here's a few times Friday 13th really lived up to its reputation.
1. The Andes cannibal crash
Among the most grisly Friday 13th stories is a plane crash that took place in a remote area of the Andes in October 1972. Of the 45 people aboard the plane, over a quarter died instantly. Those who survived decided that in order to stay alive, they would have to resort to eating the bodies of those who had already perished. It was more than two months before the survivors were eventually rescued, after two members of the party walked for 10 days to find help. By this point, only 16 people were still alive.
2. Freak blizzard hits Buffalo
In October 2006, a Friday 13th snowstorm hit Buffalo, New York. Unusually early in the year, the storm dumped 36 inches of snow on the area and left up to 400,000 people without power. It was described as the “worst snowstorm in 137 years of records being kept” and caused $130 million worth of damage.
3. Costa Concordia sinks
The Costa Concordia crashed off the the coast of Italy on Friday 13th January 2012, after striking against rocks, with the loss of 30 people. The ship’s captain was later jailed for 16 years after being found guilty of manslaughter. Prosecutors argued that he had been showing off to a number of women at the time the ship crashed.
4. Friday 13th virus strikes
Losing everything you’ve been working on is one nightmare that transcends time, so it’s easy to imagine what a truly terrible day office workers had when this virus, which was programmed to delete everything on Friday 13th, hit in January 1989. Happily, the virus was actually picked up on six weeks before, so people had time to protect their PCs, otherwise the damage could have been much, much worse.
5. Finding out your husband is cheating
Spare a thought for Dana Hamilton, who sold her luscious hair on Friday 13th to buy her husband a gold chain for his pocket watch. On returning home that evening, she found that she needn’t have bothered; her husband had sold his pocket watch to buy a pearl necklace for the special lady in his life… his secretary. What a hair-rendous way to find out your husband is having an affair.
6. A number of controversial figures were born
More than a few controversial characters have been born on Friday 13th including Margaret Thatcher, Fidel Castro and Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was an early leader of the KKK.
7. Buckingham Palace was bombed
On Friday 13th September 1940, at the height of the Blitz, German bombers unloaded five bombs on Buckingham Palace while the King and Queen were in residence, damaging the palace and killing one worker. It wasn’t all bad though - the bombing gave the public a new sense of respect for the royals, especially after their refusal to leave the UK.
8. Hurricane Charley bears down
Hurricane Charley struck Florida on Friday 13th August 2004, and the event can be considered doubly unlucky given that the storm had already weakened to a category two hurricane before unexpectedly picking up strength again on the approach to the US mainland. Fortunately it weakened again as it continued to move through the USA, but not before knocking the power out of two million homes, destroying crops and causing billions of dollars worth of damage.
9. Sam Patch disappears
Sam Patch, America’s first daredevil stuntman, had already achieved nationwide fame after completing a number of jumps from platforms into Niagara Falls, so when he decided to take on a new challenge, a 125ft jump over the High Falls of the Genesee River, 8000 people turned out to watch. However, the jump did not go to plan and Patch did not reappear from the water. His body was found the following Spring, frozen in ice.
10. The stock market crashes
On Friday 13th October 1989, an unexpected mini-crash wiped millions off the stock market. Just days before, the markets had closed on an all-time high, but the collapse of a buyout deal for UAL, the parent company of United Airlines, spooked the market. The event is often pinpointed by experts as the start of the early 1990s recession.
11. The end of evolution
We might think of Charles Darwin as a genius now, but it seems that back in the day, the state of Tennessee didn’t quite agree. On Friday 13th March 1925, they passed a law banning the teaching of evolution in schools and preventing teachers from denying the biblical version of events. Even more incredibly, it took until 1967 to be repealed.
12. Flight 666 to HEL
If you’ve still not been put off flying by the Andes crash, perhaps you could be tempted into taking Flight 666 to HEL on Friday 13th? This is the incredible flight number that was generated by coincidence by a Finnish airline, heading to Helsinki. They decided to persevere with it for many years before finally retiring the number after one last flight on Friday 13th October 2017.
13. Bangladesh was flooded
The devastating Bhola Cyclone hit Bangladesh on 13 November 1970, triggering huge storm surge flooding that killed up to an estimated half a million people, and left millions more displaced.
There are conflicting ideas as to where the suspicion of the number 13 comes from, everything from the idea that it was the number of people present at the last supper to the fact that the members of the Knight’s Templar were arrested on a Friday 13th. The good news is you’ve got a bit of breathing space now - the next one’s not until April 2018.