First known as Fort Whipple when it was part of the Defenses of Washington DC during the US Civil War, Fort Myer, Virginia is key in the US Air Force’s history. A significant milestone, actually the cornerstone, as the first military aviation flights occurred on Post in September 1908 when the Wright Flyer ascended the skies above the drill field. In response to the US Army’s Signal Corps request, the fledgling craft would spend the days of the next week that September circling the acres where the US Army’s cavalry and field artillery trained and General Philip Sheridan deemed a showcase for the Cavalry.
On 25 APR 1967 we lost another pioneer of the US Army Air Corps…
Major General Benjamin Delahauf Foulois, the first chief of the Army Air Corps to be a military aviator, had a number of “firsts” in his long and illustrious career. His accomplishments spanned 56 years during active-duty and retired military aviation service.
He was a contemporary of LtThomas Selfridge, who was the first military aviation fatality when the Wright Flyer he and Orville Wright were flying over Fort Myer, VA in 1908 crashed.
General Hap Arnold, the only 5 star General in two service branches was also contemporary of both MG Foulois and LT Selfridge
Posted 3 years, 1 month ago at 10:39 pm. Add a comment
September 17, 1908, Summerall Field, Fort Myer, Virginia – 1LT Thomas E. Selfridge accompanied Orville Wright on a trial flight of the Wright Brothers’ “aeroplane” that resulted in another milestone in history and a first in military aviation.
Trials at Ft. Myer began on 3d September 1908 and on the 17th, the trial ended in a crash of the machine as one of the propellers hit a guy wire forcing a nose down contact. Orville suffered a few broken ribs, a broken leg. LT Selfridge was thrown against one of the uprights and had a fractured skull. Unfortunately, he passed.
The photo below shows the aeroplane & Orville Wright & 1LT Selfridge before takeoff
Posted 4 years, 9 months ago at 10:27 pm. Add a comment
On Saturday, 6 SEP 2007, there will be a milestone recognized commemorating the 100 year anniversary of the first flights on a military installation that had also a bittersweet tone to it, since during the last day of flight trials marked the also first military aviation fatality.
It was on Fort Meyer, VA in September of 1908, Orville Wright had brought one of his aeroplanes with intent of selling them to the US military. The flight trials began on 3 SEP and lasted until 17 SEP 1908 The flight ended in a crash from an altitude of 75 feet when the propeller shattered. Orville Wright was seriously injured, but 1st Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge was killed marking the first military aviation fatality. (LT Selfridge is buried in Arlington National Cemetery’s Section 3)
There is a gate on Ft Myer named in honor of the Wright Brothers contribution to the advancement of the US ARMY.
More information about the celebration of this historic milestone in aviation history can be found at Centennial of Military Aviation