On This Date in History:
Orville and Wilbur Wright made their first public demonstration of their airplane on this date in 1908. Actually, it wasn’t the same Wright Flyer that made the historic flight in December 1903. They had made a number of improvements over nearly 5 years, but no one really noticed. The day that they made their initial flight, they had invited the press but no one came. Instead, they had been focused on the ill-fated attempt at heavier than air flight by the more celebrated Samuel Pierpont Langley. Following the Wright’s flight at Kitty Hawk, NC the New York Daily Tribune printed a small story with the headline “Dayton Boys Fly Airship.” The newspaper obviously had no clue as to what they had accomplished. After that, the Wrights worked on improving their “airship” but even the farmers weren’t interested. A farmer once watched the Wrights fly a plane near Dayton, Ohio 24 miles in 38 minutes, but he didn’t even stop plowing his field.
Well, the brothers on this date in 1908 began a series of demonstrations for the Army at Fort Myer, Virginia and the public was invited. The demonstrations went on for several days and it took but two short weeks for the Wrights to achieve a somewhat infamous aviation record when on September 17, Orville took Lt. Thomas E Selfridge on a ride to demonstrate the potential military value of the airplane. A guy wire broke and got tangled in a propeller and the plane “came down like a bird shot dead in full flight.” Orville shattered his hip and left leg but Selfridge was killed, going in the record book as the first aviation crash and first aviation fatality. So Orville got to make the first flight, was the first to crash, the first to be in a fatal air crash. Meanwhile, poor old Wilbur was the first Wright born on my birthday, the first to get typhoid fever around the time that the Titanic sunk in April 1912 and was the first Wright to die when he succumbed a month later. Talk about bad breaks…
On this date in 1944, a young Lieutenant pilot was recovering on a US submarine after his plane crash. He went to to at least earn the same fame as Orville Wright. Lt. George Bush was but 20 years old when his plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean by enemy anti-aircraft fire. His two crewmen were killed. One of them was killed in the aircraft while the other bailed out with Bush. But, only Bush’s parachute opened. After paddling around in a life raft for 4 hours, Lt. Bush was picked up by the USS Finback. But the sub had other things to do and Bush spent the next month on board while the Finback continued its mission. Bush spent his time assisting in picking up other downed pilots.
For his heroism and actions during numerous sorties (58 missions in 1944 alone) Bush received the Navy’s Distinguished Flying Cross, three Air Medals and a Unit Citation shared with the rest of the crew of the USS Jacinto. He went on to be a Congressman, Ambassador to the UN, CIA Director, Vice-President, President of the United States and only the second former President to have a son also hold the nation’s highest elective office. Imagine all that the nation would have missed had the Finback not been in the area. You never know what one good turn can lead to.
Weather Bottom Line:
High pressure that brought us such cool weather is drifting eastward. Consequently, our humidity levels will be on the rise, though temperatures will be rising only modestly. An upper disturbance to our southwest may be close enough to increase our rain chances some this afternoon and that type of scattered stuff will be around through the labor day weekend, though Saturday we’ll probably be in between the shortwaves so probabilities will be lowest then. As it is, none of the shortwaves at this time seem to be too strong nor do they track right over us so its a fair bet that you won’t see any rain at all through Monday…that’s either a good thing or bad thing, depending on how you look at it. My Sunflowers like rain.