That Flying Machine

North Carolina may have been first in flight, but the first fatality of a passenger airplane accident in the United States was Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, a dirigible pilot stationed at Ft. Meyer, Virginia. The plane was piloted by none other than Orville Wright, who had come to Fort Myer to demonstrate the Wright Flyer for the US Army Signal Corps division. Selfridge arranged to be a passenger while Orville piloted the craft. On September 17, 1908 at 5:14 in the afternoon, while circling the airfield for the 5th time, the right propeller broke, losing thrust.  Orville shut off the engine and managed to glide to about 75 feet, but the Flyer hit the ground nose first.  Orville suffered extensive injuries but survived.  Lt. Selfridge died in surgery following the accident.  Selfridge was buried in Virginia not far from the site in Arlington National Cemetery.

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