70 Years Ago – Black Jack foaled – January 19, 1947
Category / Fort Myer
Death of Selfridge – September 17, 1908
On September 17, 1908, Orville Wright and U.S. Army First Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge launched the Wright Military Flyer at Fort Myer, VA. Over the previous two weeks, Orville had been conducting test flights. The Wright Brothers had signed a contract with the U.S. Army to purchase an airplane, but qualification tests were required to complete the sale. Orville had already set world records at Fort Myer in exceeding the endurance qualifications, but other requirements included those for a two-man crew.
Wright Brothers at Fort Myer – August 2, 1909
On August 2, 1909, years of work and effort paid off for the Wright Brothers at Fort Myer. The U.S. Army Signal Corps in 1907 offered to purchase an airplane that met speed, duration and passenger requirements. In 1908, Orville Wright brought their aircraft to Fort Myer and during testing, met with disastrous consequences. A crash resulted in Orville Wright being severely injured and Lt. Thomas Selfridge killed.
Both Wrights returned in 1909 to complete testing. They spent June and July conducting tests, flying around Arlington and using the parade field (part of present-day Summerall Field) as their launching and landing strip. At the end of July 1909, the requirements were met and surpassed. The Signal Corps offered a contract to the Wright Brothers for $30,000 on August 2, 1909, and changed the name of the “Wright Military Flyer” to “Signal Corps No. 1.” Today, the original Wright Military Flyer is displayed at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, DC.