17 July 2008

Seventy years ago today

It was on July 17, 1938 that aviator Doug Corrigan flew out of Bennett Field in New York.

He was supposed to be heading for California. He actually ended up in Dublin, Ireland, 28 hours later.

Hence the nickname he bore for the rest of his life, Wrong Way Corrigan.

No one believes that this was an accident. Corrigan had repeatedly applied for permission to fly to Ireland and been turned down, and presumably thought it would be neat to put one over on the bureaucrats.

Corrigan, who lived until 1995, never once acknowledged having flown eastward on purpose. I imagine that once he created the cover story he figured he might as well keep the bluff going.

Every one of the early trans-Atlantic solo flights was an act of bravery, and this was still very true in Corrigan's day, eleven years after Lindbergh's flight. That it was in his case a combination of bravery with trickery wrote him into pop-culture immediately.

Soon thereafter the three stooges cried "Hey, we're doing a corrigan" in one of their shorts -- they were cast as firemen, and realized that they had been going in the opposite direction from the fire.

And, decades later, the obviously Corrigan-inspired character "Wrong Way Feldman" appeared on Gilligan's island.

Ah, fame.

No comments:

Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.