Reduced safety standards in an attempt to speed up the launch date resulted in the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger shortly after takeoff. Elementary school teacher Christa McAulliffe — appointed to the mission by President Reagan — died in the blast as her students watched TV coverage in her Concord, New Hampshire classroom.
4 Americans were among those killed when a bomb exploded aboard a TWA jet en route to Athens from Rome.
6,000,000 participated in Hands Across America, raising money for programs for the country's homeless.
25 died when a plane and helicopter collided over the Grand Canyon.
The celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty took place on Independence Day. The statue had undergone a massive renovation before the event.
The surviving crewman of a plane shot down over Nicaragua confirmed that the CIA was running weapons to the Contras. Three weeks later, it was disclosed that the U.S. had been secretly selling arms to Iran. After Attorney General Ed Meece admitted that the arms proceeds were being diverted to arming the Contras, President Reagan fired security advisors Admiral John Poindexter and Lt. Col. Oliver North. The president insisted he had no knowledge of the operation.
Congress authorized $20 million in military aid to Honduras to protect Contras under attack by Nicaraguan invaders.
President Reagan signed a relaxed gun control law which would allow interstate retail sales of rifles. Police associations had lobbied against the revised law. Former press secretary James Brady, who had been critically injured in the assassination attempt against the president in 1981, was appalled that Reagan signed the measure.
By a landslide vote, Republican Clint Eastwood was elected mayor of Carmel, California.
Popular movies included Top Gun, The Color Of Money, Crocodile Dundee, Platoon, Alien and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
Fatherhood by Bill Cosby topped the bestseller list while his TV series remained #1. L.A. Law debuted on NBC. Bruce Willis received an Emmy for Best Actor In A Drama for ABC's Moonlighting.
That's What Friends Are For by Dionne Warwick & Friends (Gladys Knight, Elton John and Stevie Wonder) was the number one song of the year. Royalties benefitted pediatric AIDS research.