Thirteen days into 1982, in the midst of one of the worst snow storms of one of the most bitterly cold winters ever to hit locally, Air Florida Flight 90 slogged down a National Airport runway, bound for sunny Tampa.
Seconds later, its wings iced over and its engines throttled down because of incorrect instrument readings, Flight 90 crashed into the 14th Street Bridge and somersaulted into the Potomac, strewing the dead and the injured in its wake.
The toll was horrific: 78 people died, including four motorists who were killed when the plane's belly crushed their vehicles as they sat on the traffic-clogged bridge. Only five passengers survived, all of them pulled from the icy Potomac as a stunned nation watched the drama on television.
Yet, if the crash of Flight 90 provided a tragic introduction to 1982, it also gave us reason to feel good about ourselves. For an ordinary Joe named Lenny Skutnik, on his way home to his wife and kids in Lorton, leaped from obscurity on the banks of the Potomac into our hearts when he dived into the river to rescue survivors.
From the crash of Flight 90, to the swearing in of the first Democrat to hold the Virginia governorship in 16 years, to the first execution of a man in Virginia in 20 years, to the burning down of the theater at Wolf Trap, to the opening of Rte. I-66, 1982 has been a full measure of a year.
"Maybe the best thing you can say about 1982 was that we have all muddled through," said Ellen Bozman, Arlington's incoming board chairman.
To Fairfax Board Chairman John F. Herrity, it was a year of "learning to do with less."
Here's a summary of the major events of 1982:
Jan. 13: Air Florida Flight 90, bound for Tampa from National Airport, crashes into the 14th Street Bridge and then into the Potomac, killing 78 people, including four trapped in their cars on the bridge. Minutes later, three people are killed in a Metrorail accident.
Jan. 16: Charles S. Robb is sworn in as Virginia's 64th governor, the first Democrat to hold the state's top office in 16 years and the first resident of Northern Virginia ever to take the seat. Within the first few months of his term, Robb is forced to make large cuts in the state budget because of the poor state of the economy and dwindling receipts.
Jan. 31: The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors agrees to pay $2.75 million in back pay and benefits to 685 county employes as part of the settlement of a 1978 job discrimination suit brought against the county by the Justice Department. A federal judge in Alexandria had ruled in March 198l that the county was guilty of discrimination on the basis of race and sex.
Feb. 16: A nine-year struggle to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in Virginia fails when the Virginia Senate falls one vote short in its effort to get the majority needed to bring the measure to a vote in the House of Delegates. The ERA is defeated nationally on June 30, when time runs out on the drive to get three more states to ratify the amendment.
March 15: Funding for the Northern Virginia's contribution to the Metro transit system is increased by a third to $40 million by the Virginia General Assembly, but an effort to get the highway fund allocation formula changed to favor urban areas of Virginia is defeated when a single member of the House of Delegates fails to flick his voting lever in the final tally, a major disappointment to area legislators who have worked for years to get the formula changed.
March 19: A Fairfax County judge rules that all nine Fairfax County supervisors violated the Virginia Freedom of Information Act when they met secretly last Dec. 11 to redraw their boundaries as part of redistricting. The board members are warned that they could be jailed or fined for future violations.
April 4: A spectacular four-alarm fire destroys the Filene Center for the Performing Arts at Wolf Trap. Although it first is seen as a huge loss for Northern Virginia, fund-raising efforts get under way while the timbers still are smoldering; and, in October, area Congressmen turn Wolf Trap into one of 1982's success stories when they push through a $17 million appropriation to rebuild the center.
April 28: The valuable tract of land called Tysons II near Tysons Corner is ordered put up for sale in early 1983 by a Fairfax County judge after developer Theodore N. Lerner and his partners fail to resolve a bitter struggle over who should develop the land. The 117-acre parcel, across Rte. 123 from the giant mall, had been bought earlier at an auction by Lerner for $35 million.
May 18: The Arlington County Board approves a $100-million plan to renovate the Parkington shopping mall and transform it into a complex with 1.5 million feet of retail and office space. Designed to be the centerpiece of Arlington's new downtown, the mall will be as large as the Seven Corners shopping complex when built and is scheduled to open in 1985. Plans for redeveloping other parts of Arlington are approved later in the year by the board. These include a $250-million plan for an office and shop complex in Shirlington, a $250-million plan to redevelop the Courthouse area on Wilson Boulevard, and a plan to double office and retail space in Clarendon.
May 28: Virginia Del. David G. Brickley is cleared of charges that he and business associate G. Richard Pfitzner, a Prince William County supervisor, improperly used inside information in making land deals near the site of a new county government complex. Brickley goes on to win reelection to the Virginia House of Delegates in November.
June 24: Fairfax County School Superintendent Linton Deck Jr. resigns after clashing with the county school board over a ballooning school budget and his poor relations with community leaders and teacher organizations. A month later, deputy superintendent William J. Burkholder is named to the school system's top job.
July 26: Media General Cable of Fairfax County Inc., a subsidiary of a Richmond-based publishing company, is awarded the Fairfax County cable television franchise after four years of debate. The loser, Fairfax Telecommunications, sues the county and Media General in December to have the award reversed.
July 26: The Fairfax County Board votes to protect the Occoquan reservoir by down-zoning 38,500 acres of land in the southwestern corner of the county. More than 24 landowners immediately file suits against the county challenging it's right to down-zone the land.
July 30: Loudoun County Sheriff Donald L. Lacy, 35, is placed on probation by a Virginia judge and promised that charges against him for assaulting a young woman during a New Year's Eve party at the Dulles Airport Holiday Inn would be dropped in 12 months. The court action is the result of a grand jury investigation during which Lacy was cited for misconduct, misusing county funds and intimidating department employes. Lacy has one year left of his four-year term as sheriff.
Aug. 10: Frank J. Coppola, a 38-year-old ex-policeman from Portsmouth, is executed in Virginia's electric chair after Gov. Robb decides not to interfere and the U.S. Supreme Court approves a last-minute appeal by Virginia officials to overrule a stay. Coppola is the first person to be executed in Virginia in 20 years.
Sept. 16: Fairfax City's four-term treasurer, Francis L. Cox, 58, is convicted of embezzling city funds. A week later the city files a civil suit against Cox and her bonding firm in an effort to collect $600,000 it says is missing from city accounts. On Sept. 23 she is sentenced to 10 years in jail, although she remains free on bond pending appeal to the Virginia Supreme Court.
Sept. 17: A Fauquier County circuit court convicts Warren Wesley Essex, 25, of second-degree murder for killing three people while driving under the influence of alcohol. It is the first Virginia murder conviction in a drunk-driving case. Essex, a construction laborer from Warrenton, later is sentenced to 15 1/2 years in jail, with 10 years suspended, a move that angers advocates of tougher drunk-driving convictions. Many of those advocates had successfully lobbied for harsher penalities for drunk drivers during the Virginia legislative session.
Oct. 4: In a first step toward dismantling Metro's extensive regional bus system, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors votes to begin operating its own public buses around the Huntington Metro Station south of Alexandria. The move had been recommended in a consultant's report that said the county could save money with its own system. Three weeks later, the Alexandria City Council approves the idea of creating a city-run bus system by 1983 to feed into Alexandria's three Metro stations.
Oct. 15: Theodore C. Gregory, a Loudoun County horse trainer, is convicted of manslaughter and fined $1,000 for the shooting death of his wife's lover two years ago. Although charged with first-degree murder and jailed for 22 months without bond, Gregory is found to have suffered from an irresistible impulse when he discovered Howard B. LaBove in bed with his estranged wife, Monique Dana.
Nov. 2: Republican Paul Trible, a 34-year-old Newport News congressman, is elected Virginia's next U.S. Senator, narrowly defeating Democratic Lt. Gov. Richard J. Davis for the seat vacated by retiring Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr. Northern Virginia Republican incumbents, Reps. Frank R. Wolf and Stanford E. Parris retain their seats in Virginia's 10th and 8th congressional districts. In Arlington, Democrat Mary Margaret Whipple wins an upset victory over Arlington County Board Chairman Stephen H. Detwiler, a Republican-backed independent, giving the Democrats control of the board for the first time since 1979.
Nov. 10: James Q. Stevens, 18, a former student at Fairfax County's Lake Braddock High School, barges into the high school with a rifle and, after demanding to talk with his girlfriend -- who flees the school -- takes the principal and eight other people hostage. Stevens holds off police while family, friends and the media huddle outside the school. He releases the hostages gradually and eventually surrenders to police. The youth is subsequently charged with 10 abduction counts and two charges of using a firearm in commission of a felony.
Nov. 22: The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors backs down after a year-long standoff with the Virginia state highway department, accepting the state's recommended route for the Springfield Bypass, a $200 million highway that will loop 35 miles through the county connecting Springfield with Reston.
Dec. 22:After 23 years of debate, the final segment of I-66 linking the Capital Beltway and the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge opens. The 10-mile stretch of highway, which cuts through the heart of Arlington, cost $275 million and sparked a well-organized opposition that forced the Virginia Department of Highways and Transportation to compromise on its plans for the road. The compromise has resulted in a four-lane highway that is restricted to carpool use during commuting hours. CAPTION: Pictures 1 through 5, People and events that made news in 1982 included, April fire at Wolf Trap Farm, By LARRY MORRIS -- The Washington Post; Gov. and Mrs. Charles Robb at inaugural ball, By GARY A. CAMERON -- The Washington Post; newly elected Sen. Paul S. Trible (with daughter Mary Katherine), AP; Parkington Shopping Mall in Arlington, due for $100 million renovation, By LINDA WHEELER -- The Washington Post; and former and current Fairfax County Schools superintendents Linton Deck Jr., and William J. Burkholder. By VANESSA BARNES HILLIAN -- The Washington Post