It had been about five years since Wilbur and Orville Wright had made history with their airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. During the following years, the brothers developed their flying machine into the first practical fixed-wing aircraft, the Wright Flyer. And in 1908, Orville took the Flyer flyerto Fort Myer, Virginia, to demonstrate it for the US Army Signal Corps division.

Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge arranged to be a passenger on the demonstration flight while Orville piloted the craft.

Selfridge might be considered one of the first frequent flyers. Selfridge took his first flight in 1907, a flight that took him 168 feet in the air above Bras d’Or Lake in Nova Scotia, Canada. He also piloted a Canadian craft that flew three feet off the ground for about 100 feet.  He next took to the air in Hammondsport, New York, traveling 100 feet on his first attempt and 200 feet on his second. The next day he added another 800 yards to his mileage credit. A successful flight with Orville would no doubt have given him an upgrade if not a free flight.

On September 17, 1908, Selfridge and Orville circled Fort Myer in the Wright Flyer 4½ times at 150 feet. Halfway through the fifth go-round, the right propeller broke, losing thrust. A nasty vibration ensued, causing the split propeller to hit a guy wire bracing the rear vertical rudder. Luggage flew out of the overhead storage compartments; the wire tore out of its fastening and shattered the propeller; the rudder swiveled and sent the Flyer into a nose-dive. Orville ordered Selfridge to return to his seat and fasten his seat belt. Then he shut off the engine and managed to glide to about 75 feet, but the Flyer hit the ground nose first — not a smooth landing.

Orville was bruised and quite embarrassed.  His passenger was unfortunately dead, the first ever airplane fatality.  If Selfridge had been wearing a helmet of some sort, he most likely would have survived the crash. The fatality also saddled the fledgling flying industry with a pretty poor safety track record – one death per 2,500 passenger-feet, just slightly better than traveling on the back of a hungry lion.


Bedtime for Donald

Canadians. Why are they even up there? What a bunch of losers, a whole nation of losers, including their Inuits and their mounties and donald-trumptheir polar bears. Especially the French ones. Les losers beaucoup. No one even knows who their president is. I know I don’t. Sure, a lot of them are nice people and I love them, but they’re probably sending murderers and rapists across the border, too. We gotta build another wall — a long, long wall. Mexico will pay for it. G’night.

Inspirational Quote for 9/17/16



3 thoughts on “September 17, 1908: Flying Too High with Some Guy in the Sky

  1. I see you throw the occasional barb at the republican party, but it may be time to throw some in the other direction. It appears to me that the democrats are becoming the next republican party. They have a pathological liar (an old republican trait, I have been told) for their presidential candidate, who won the primary via a most undemocratic primary (do I hear voter fraud… another so-called republican trait). I think their candidate is also embroiled in some missing emails (do I hear Nixon’s Watergate tapes). The fact is, I think she makes Tricky Dick look like never-tell-a-lie George Washington.

    This is the sorriest election I can ever remember. No one in their right mind can vote “for” either Trump or Hillary. Neither of them deserves to be voted “for”.

    Well, now is the time for all good men and women to come to the aid of their nation (and not their party). It is time to vote “for” a third party.

    If you cannot find a third party candidate you like, just write in “Richard Daybell”.

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