On This Day, July 17, 1938 – ‘Wrong Way’ Corrigan Leaves NY for LA and Ends up in Ireland

1938 – Douglas Corrigan, the last of the early glory-seeking fliers, takes off from Floyd Bennett field in Brooklyn, New York, on a flight that would finally win him a place in aviation history.

Eleven years earlier, American Charles A. Lindbergh had become an international celebrity with his solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic. Corrigan was among the mechanics who had worked on Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis aircraft, but that mere footnote in the history of flight was not enough for the Texas-born aviator. In 1938, he bought a 1929 Curtiss Robin aircraft off a trash heap, rebuilt it, and modified it for long-distance flight. In July 1938, Corrigan piloted the single-engine plane nonstop from California to New York. Although the transcontinental flight was far from unprecedented, Corrigan received national attention simply because the press was amazed that his rattletrap aircraft had survived the journey.

Almost immediately after arriving in New York, he filed plans for a transatlantic flight, but aviation authorities deemed it a suicide flight, and he was promptly denied. Instead, they would allow Corrigan to fly back to the West Coast, and on July 17 he took off from Floyd Bennett field, ostentatiously pointed west. However, a few minutes later, he made a 180-degree turn and vanished into a cloudbank to the puzzlement of a few onlookers.

Twenty-eight hours later, Corrigan landed his plane in Dublin, Ireland, stepped out of his plane, and exclaimed, “Just got in from New York. Where am I?” He claimed that he lost his direction in the clouds and that his compass had malfunctioned. The authorities didn’t buy the story and suspended his license, but Corrigan stuck to it to the amusement of the public on both sides of the Atlantic. By the time “Wrong Way” Corrigan and his crated plane returned to New York by ship, his license suspension had been lifted, he was a national celebrity, and a mob of autograph seekers met him on the gangway.


1212 – The Moslems were crushed in the Spanish crusade.

1453 – France defeated England at Castillon, France, which ended the 100 Years’ War.

1785 – France limited the importation of goods from Britain.

1815 – Napoleon Bonaparte surrendered to the British at Rochefort, France.

1821 – Spain ceded Florida to the U.S.

1862 – National cemeteries were authorized by the U.S. government.

1866 – Authorization was given to build a tunnel beneath the Chicago River. The three-year project cost $512,709.

1867 – Harvard School of Dental Medicine was established in Boston, MA. It was the first dental school in the U.S.

1898 – U.S. troops under General William R. Shafter took Santiago de Cuba during the Spanish-American War.

1917 – The British royal family adopted the Windsor name.

1920 – Sinclair Lewis finished his novel “Main Street.”

1941 – The longest hitting streak in baseball history ended when the Cleveland Indians pitchers held New York Yankee Joe DiMaggio hitless for the first time in 57 games.

1941 – Brigadier General Soervell directed Architect G. Edwin Bergstrom to have basic plans and architectural perspectives for an office building that could house 40,000 War Department employees on his desk by the following Monday morning. The building became known as the Pentagon.

1945 – U.S. President Truman, Soviet leader Josef Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston S. Churchill began meeting at Potsdam in the final Allied summit of World War II. During the meeting Stalin made the comment that “Hitler had escaped.”

1946 – Chinese communists opened a drive against the Nationalist army on the Yangtze River.

1954 – The Brooklyn Dodgers made history as the first team with a majority of black players.


1955 – Disneyland opened in Anaheim, CA.


1960 – Francis Gary Powers pled guilty to spying charges in a Moscow court after his U-2 spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union.

1966 – Ho Chi Minh ordered a partial mobilization of North Vietnam forces to defend against American air strikes.

1975 – An Apollo spaceship docked with a Soyuz spacecraft in orbit. It was the first link up between the U.S. and Soviet Union.

1979 – Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza resigned and fled to Miami in exile. (Florida)

1987 – Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North and rear Admiral John Poindexter begin testifying to Congress at the “Iran-Contra” hearings.

1997 – After 117 years, the Woolworth Corp. closed its last 400 stores.

1998 – Biologists reported that they had deciphered the genome (genetic map) of the syphilis bacterium.

 

Source: History.com; On-This-Day.com

 


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