1983 1984 1985 - 1986 - 1987 1988 1989
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Events of 1986
- January 1 - Spain and Portugal enter the European Community, which later becomes the European Union.
- January 1 - Aruba gains increased autonomy from the Netherlands and is separated from the Netherlands Antilles.
- January 9 - After losing a patent battle with Polaroid, Kodak leaves the instant camera business.
- January 12 - STS-61-C: Space Shuttle Columbia is launched with the first Hispanic-American astronaut, Dr. Franklin Chang-Diaz.
- January 19 - The first PC virus, Brain, starts to spread.
- January 20 - The United Kingdom and France announce plans to construct the Channel Tunnel.
- January 20 - The first federal Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, honoring Martin Luther King Jr., is observed.
- January 24 - The Voyager 2 space probe makes its first encounter with Uranus.
- January 26 - The Chicago Bears defeat the New England Patriots 46-10 in Super Bowl XX held at Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana.
- January 28 - STS-51-L: Space Shuttle Challenger disintegrates 73 seconds after launch, killing the crew of 7 astronauts including schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe (see Space Shuttle Challenger disaster).
- January 29 - Yoweri Museveni becomes President of Uganda after leading a successful 5-year liberation struggle.
- February 2 - One of Australia's worst crimes, the Anita Cobby murder, occurs.
- February 7 - President Jean-Claude Duvalier ("Baby Doc") flees Haiti, ending 28 years of family rule.
- February 9 - Mohinder Amarnath becomes the first batsman dismissed for handling the ball in One Day International cricket.
- February 9 - Comet Halley reaches its perihelion, the closest point to the Sun, during its second visit to the solar system in the 20th Century.
- February 11 - Human rights activist Anatoly Shcharansky is released by the Soviet Union and leaves the country.
- February 16 - The Soviet liner Mikhail Lermontov runs aground in the Marlborough Sounds, New Zealand.
- February 16 - The French Air Force raids the Libyan Ouadi Doum airbase in northern Chad.
- February 19 - The Soviet Union launches the Mir space station.
- February 19 - After waiting 37 years, the United States Senate approves a treaty outlawing genocide.
- February 21 - Nintendo releases the Famicom Disk System in Japan. A customer could re-write games with the disk for 500 yen. The instruction manual was sold seperatly for 100 yen. The first game enhanced with Famicom Disk System capabilities was The Legend of Zelda.
- February 25 - People Power Revolution: President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines goes into exile in Hawaii after 20 years of rule; Corazon Aquino becomes the first Filipino woman president, first as an interim president. Salvador Laurel becomes her Vice President.
- February 25 - Egyptian military police, protesting against bad salaries, enter 4 luxury hotels near the pyramids, set fire to them and loot them.
- February 27 - The United States Senate allows its debates to be televised on a trial basis.
- February 28 - Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme is shot dead on his way home from the cinema.*
- March 3 - The first paper is published describing the Atomic force microscope, invented the previous year by Gerd Binnig, Calvin Quate and Christophe Berger. 
- March 4 - The Today national tabloid newspaper is launched in the United Kingdom, pioneering the use of computer photosetting and full-colour offset printing at a time when British national newspapers still use Linotype machines and letterpress.
- March 8 - Japanese spacecraft Suisei flies by Halley's Comet, studying its UV hydrogen corona and solar wind.
- March 9 - United States Navy divers find the largely intact but heavily-damaged crew compartment of the Space Shuttle Challenger; the bodies of all 7 astronauts are still inside.
- March 13 - Irish racemare Dawn Run wins the Cheltenham Gold Cup at Cheltenham, England, becoming the first racehorse to complete the Champion Hurdle, Cheltenham Gold Cup double.
- March 25 - The 58th Academy Awards are held in Los Angeles, California with Out of Africa winning Best Picture
- March 26 - An article in the New York Times charges that Kurt Waldheim, former United Nations Secretary General and candidate for president of Austria, may have been involved in war crimes during World War II.
- March 27 - A car bomb explodes at Russell Street Police HQ in Melbourne, killing a police officer.
- March 31 - A fire devastates Hampton Court Palace in Surrey, England.
- April 2 - A bomb explodes on a Trans World Airlines flight from Rome to Athens, killing 4 people.
- April 4 - Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity, Inc. is founded.
- April 5 - 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing: The West Berlin discotheque, a known hangout for United States soldiers, is bombed, killing 3 and injuring 230; Libya is held responsible.
- April 13 - Pope John Paul II officially visits the Synagogue of Rome, the first time a modern Pope had visited a synagogue.
- April 14 - Hailstones weighing 2.2 lb (880 g) fall on the Gopalganj district of Bangladesh, killing 92.
- April 15 - At least 15 people die after United States planes bomb targets in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and the Benghazi region as part of Operation El Dorado Canyon.
- April 17 - British journalist John McCarthy is kidnapped in Beirut (released in August 1991) - 3 others are found dead; Revolutionary Cells (RZ) claims responsibility in retaliation for the U.S. bombing of Libya.
- April 17 - A treaty ends the Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years' War between the Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly.
- April 17 - The Hindawi Affair begins when an Irishwoman is found unknowingly carrying explosives onto an El Al flight from London to Tel Aviv.
- April 21 - Geraldo Rivera opens Al Capone's secret vault on The Mystery of Al Capone's Vault, discovering only a bottle of moonshine.
- April 26 - In Ukraine, one of the reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear plant explodes, creating the world's worst nuclear disaster. 31 are killed directly by the incident, many more die from cancer in later years, many thousands more are exposed to significant amounts of radioactive material, and vast territories in Ukraine and Belarus are rendered uninhabitable.
- April 27 - "Captain Midnight" interrupts HBO satellite feed.
- April 29 - Roger Clemens set the record for the most strikeouts in a nine inning MLB game, striking out 20 batters.
- May 2 - The 1986 World Exposition in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada opens.
- May 16 - The Seville Statement on Violence is adopted by an international meeting of scientists, convened by the Spanish National Commission for UNESCO, in Seville, Spain.
- May 24 - The Montreal Canadiens win the Stanley Cup beating the Calgary Flames in 5 games.
- May 25 - Hands Across America: At least 5,000,000 people form a human chain from New York City to Long Beach, California, to raise money to fight hunger and homelessness.
- Bangladeshi double decked ferry Shamia capsized Meghna River, southern Barisa, Bangladesh, killing at least 600.
- May 26 - The European Community adopts the European flag.
- May 31 - The 1986 FIFA World Cup begins in Mexico.
- June 4 - Jonathan Pollard pleads guilty to espionage for selling top secret United States military intelligence to Israel.
- June 8 - Former United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim is elected president of Austria.
- June 9 - The Rogers Commission releases its report on the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.
- June 29 - Argentina defeats West Germany 3-2 to win the 1986 FIFA World Cup.
- July 1- CSX Transportation established.
- July 5 - The Statue of Liberty is reopened to the public after an extensive refurbishing.
- July 5/July 20 - Goodwill Games in Moscow.
- July 7 - Australian drug smugglers Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers executed in Malaysia.
- July 23 - In London, Prince Andrew, Duke of York marries Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey.
- July 27 - Greg LeMond wins the Tour de France.
- July 28 - Estate agent Suzy Lamplugh vanishes after a meeting in London.
- August 6 - A low pressure system moving from South Australia and redeveloping off the New South Wales coast dumps a record 328 millimetres of rain in a day on Sydney.
- August 6 - In Louisville, Kentucky, William J. Schroeder, the second person to receive an artificial heart, dies after 620 days.
- August 6 - Australian Democrats leader Don Chipp retires from federal parliament and is succeeded by Janine Haines, becoming the first woman to lead a political party in Australia.
- August 19 - Two weeks after it was stolen, the Picasso painting Weeping Woman is found in a locker at the Spencer Street Station in Melbourne, Australia.
- August 20 - In Edmond, Oklahoma, United States Postal Service employee Patrick Sherrill guns down 14 of his co-workers before committing suicide.
- August 21 - The Lake Nyos disaster occurs, killing nearly 2,000 people.
- August 31 - The Soviet passenger liner Admiral Nakhimov collides with the bulk carrier Pyotr Vasev in the Black Sea and sinks almost immediately, killing 398.
- August 31 - Aeroméxico Flight 498, a Douglas DC-9, collides with a Piper PA-28 over Cerritos, California, killing 67 on both aircraft and 15 on the ground.
- August 31 - The cargo ship Khian Sea departs from the docks of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, carrying 14,000 tons of toxic waste. It will wander the seas for the next 16 months trying to find a place to dump its cargo.
- September 5 - Pan Am Flight 73, with 358 people on board, is hijacked at Karachi International Airport by 4 armed men of the Abu Nidal organization, which operates much in the same manner as Al Qaeda.
- September 6 - In Istanbul, 2 Abu Nidal terrorists kill 22 and wound 6 inside the Neve Shalom synagogue during Sabbath services.
- September 6 - Casualty (TV series) is first aired on BBC1.
- September 7 - Desmond Tutu becomes the first black Anglican Church bishop in South Africa.
- September 7 - Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet survives an assassination attempt by the FPMR; 5 of his bodyguards are killed.
- September 13 - A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocks the city of Kalamata in southern Greece, killing 20 people, injuring 80 and completely destroying one fifth of the city
- September 21 - Cheryl Keeton is found dead in her van on the Sunset Highway, inspiring the novel Dead By Sunset.
- October 1 - U.S. President Ronald Reagan signs the Goldwater-Nichols Act into law, making official the largest reorganization of the United States Department of Defense since the Air Force was made a separate branch of service in 1947.
- October 9 - United States District Court Judge Harry E. Claiborne becomes the fifth federal official to be removed from office through impeachment.
- October 9 - News Corporation completes its acquisition of the Metromedia group of companies, thereby launching Fox Broadcasting Company
- October 10 - An earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter Scale strikes San Salvador, El Salvador, killing an estimated 1,500 people.
- October 11 - Cold War: Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev meet in Reykjavík, Iceland, to continue discussions about scaling back their intermediate missile arsenals in Europe (the talks break down in failure).
- October 12 - Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visit the People's Republic of China
- October 19 - Mozambican president Samora Machel's plane crashes in South Africa.
- October 22 - In New York City WNBC Radio's traffic helicopter crashes into the Hudson River killing traffic reporter Jane Dornacker. The last words heard on-the-air were Dornacker's screams of terror, "Hit the water! Hit the water! Hit the water!"
- October 26 - Bus deregulation goes into effect in the United Kingdom, except Greater London and Northern Ireland.
- October 27 - International World Day of Prayer is held in Assisi, Italy.
- October 27 - The New York Mets win the Major League Baseball World Series, defeating the Boston Red Sox in 7 games. This was the second world series title in the Mets franchise.
- October 27 - Big Bang in the London Stock Exchange abolishes fixed commission charges, paving the way for electronic trading.
- October 28 - The centennial of the Statue of Liberty's dedication is celebrated in New York Harbor.
- October 28 - In London, Jeremy Bamber is found guilty of the murder of his parents, sister and twin nephews and sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation by the trial judge that he should serve at least 25 years before being considered for parole.
- November 1 - Queensland, Australia: Joh Bjelke-Petersen wins his final election as Premier of Queensland with 38.6% of the vote. He resigns on December 1, 1987 following revelations of his involvement with corruption released in the Fitzgerald Inquiry.
- November 3 - Iran-Contra Affair: The Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa reports that the United States has been selling weapons to Iran in secret in order to secure the release of 7 American hostages held by pro-Iranian groups in Lebanon.
- November 4 - Democrats regain control of the United States Senate for the first time in 6 years. In California, Chief Justice Rose Bird and two colleagues are removed by voters from the Supreme Court of California for opposing capital punishment.
- November 6 Sumburgh disaster - a British International Helicopters Boeing 234LR Chinook crashed 2.5 miles east of Sumburgh Airport killing 45 people. The deadliest civilian helicopter crash on record.
- November 11 - Sperry Rand and Burroughs merge to form Unisys, becoming the second largest computer company.
- November 12 - Australian singer John Farnham releases the album Whispering Jack, which becomes the highest selling album in Australia's history.
- November 18 - Greater Manchester Police announce that they are to search for the bodies of 2 missing children (who both vanished more than 20 years ago) after the Moors Murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley confessed to 2 more murders.
- November 21 - Iran-Contra Affair: National Security Council member Oliver North and his secretary, Fawn Hall, start shredding documents implicating them in selling weapons to Iran and channeling the proceeds to help fund the Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
- November 22 - Mike Tyson wins his first world boxing title by defeating Trevor Berbick in Las Vegas.
- November 25 - Iran-Contra Affair: U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese announces that profits from covert weapons sales to Iran were illegally diverted to the anti-communist Contra rebels in Nicaragua.
- November 26 - Iran-Contra Affair: U.S. President Ronald Reagan announces that as of December 1 former Senator John Tower, former Secretary of State Edmund Muskie, and former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft will serve as members of the Special Review Board looking into the scandal (they became known as the Tower Commission). Reagan denies involvement in the scandal.
- November 26 - The first theatrical film version of Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker, with sets and costumes designed by Maurice Sendak and choreography by Kent Stowell, is released. A notably gloomy and eerie production of the work in comparison to most, the film receives mixed reviews, some for its "music video" approach to the editing.
- December 14 - Rutan Voyager, an experimental aircraft designed by Burt Rutan and piloted by Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager, begins its flight around the world.
- December 19 - Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov is permitted to return to Moscow after years of internal exile.
- December 20 - Three African Americans are assaulted by a group of white teens in the Howard Beach neighborhood of Queens, New York. One of the victims, Michael Griffith, is run over and killed by a motorist while attempting to flee the attackers.
- December 22 - British Liberal Party Member of Parliament David Penhaligon, 42, is killed in a car crash near Truro in Cornwall, England.
- December 23 - Voyager completes the first nonstop circumnavigation of the earth by air without refueling in 9 days, 3 minutes and 44 seconds.
- December 29 - Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Harold Macmillan dies at the age of 92.
- December 31 - A fire at the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, kills 97 and injures 140.