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The World’s First Fatal Plane Crash Could Have Killed The President – 1908

Orville Wright Of Wright Brothers Fame Piloted The First Fatal Airplane Crash

Orville Wright First Fatal Plane Crash

Orville Wright and Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge (right) being attended to after Wright’s airplane crashed at Fort Myer – September 17, 1908

Everyone knows that the Wright Brothers undertook the world’s first successful motorized airplane flight at Kitty Hawk, NC in 1903. What most people do not know is that five years later in 1908, Orville Wright was piloting a plane that crashed causing the first airplane fatality.

What even fewer people know is that the first fatality could easily have been President Theodore Roosevelt.

For several weeks beginning in September 1908, Orville Wright had been conducting test flights with the army at Fort Myer, a military post just outside of Washington D.C..

On September 14, it was reported that President Roosevelt had said he wanted to fly with Orville Wright on one of the upcoming test flights. Wright wisely demurred saying, “I have heard the report that President Roosevelt wants to ascend with me. I’m sorry, I don’t think the President of the United States should take such chances. Of course, flying in the air is as safe as riding in a streetcar, but there are accidents that might happen. Aside from my relatives, such an accident to me would mean nothing, but the Nation would be the sufferer if the President was injured or killed.”

Those who knew President Roosevelt said he would insist on flying with Wright when he returned to Washington D.C. from Oyster Bay, NY the following week. Fate would intervene in the President’s plans to fly with Wright.

Three days later on September 17, 1908 Orville Wright was at the controls flying with pilot Lt. Thomas Selfridge, who was Secretary of the Aerial Experiment Association. Continue reading