Wrong-Way Corrigan–Wacky or Wily?

imageSo the story goes, Douglas Corrigan set out for the west coast from New York’s Bennett Field but ended up in Ireland instead. Did this wild pilot have the world’s worst sense of direction, or was he pulling a fast one?

It’s July, 1938. Airplane mechanic Douglas Corrigan proposes a solo flight across the Atlantic in an airplane he basically dug out of a junkyard. Traversing the ocean is difficult, but nothing new; Charles Lindbergh already succeeded in crossing “the pond” back in ’27. But still, Corrigan’s jazzed about doing it for himself.

imageThe aviation hotshots say no. His plane can’t possibly survive such a trip, which of course means Corrigan wouldn’t survive either. It’d be suicide! Only a fool would take such a chance.

What happens next is the stuff of laughter and legend. Instead of his original proposed eastbound flight, Corrigan files a flight plan from N.Y. To L.A., westward. Then, once he’s in the air he gets turned around, and the next time we hear from him, twenty-eight hours later, he’s landed in Ireland. What happened? Was he so thoroughly mixed up that he could fly for so long without noticing he had flown east instead of west? Was he such a dingbat that he didn’t notice the lack of Nebraska below the plane for the entire 28 hours?!

imageI bet you can guess what I think really happened. What’s your opinion?

Source: This Day in History

Carol Brendler is the author of Radio Girl, a historical novel for young adults, published by Holiday House in 2013.

1938 ~ Part III, Ten More New Things

Nestlé Crunch, an early wrapper look

Nestlé Crunch, an early wrapper look

Today’s installment–Ten more things that were invented, founded and established in ’38.

  1. The Nestle’s Crunch bar. (Back then, maybe it had real chocolate flavor.)
  2. Everybody was reading a new novel by Daphne DuMaurier, Rebecca. (Still really good!)
  3. Tupperware was invented.
  4. Mr. Tupper's invention

    Mr. Tupper’s invention

  5. The first Caldecott Medal was awarded.
  6. Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” was first performed, and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize later that same year.
  7. A playbill title page of Our Town

    A playbill title page of Our Town

  8. The Barbershop Harmony Society was founded.
  9. Ella Fitzgerald recorded “A Tisket, a Tasket,” which quickly shot up to #1 on the charts.
  10. This invention was introduced (I foresee a life-safety issue with the design):
  11. Alarming.


  12. The ball-point pen made its debut. Before the war, it was fountain pens and inkwells like the one Cece fills in Radio Girl.
  13. Pens and ink.

    Pens and ink.

  14. Squirt was born. Said to be named that because it squirts into your mouth like a squeezed grapefruit. Well, I guess.

Seventy-five years ago this year. I was -25 years old. That’s negative 25. Ahem. 🙂

1938 ~ Part II, Ten New Things

Today’s installment–things invented, founded and established in ’38.

Dr. West's amazing breakthrough in oral hygiene!

Dr. West’s amazing breakthrough in oral hygiene!

Falling as it did before WWII but at the onset of a slow rebound from the dreariness of the Great Depression, 1938 seems to have been a year for new things. Here are ten.

    1. The National Button Society was founded, and is still going strong.
    2. Superman debuted in Action Comics #1.
    3. Superman was new

      Superman was new

    4. Nylon was accidentally invented.
    5. Consequently, the nylon toothbrush (see above) first made its appearance. Before that, people brushed their teeth with boar’s bristle brushes. (1939 saw the advent of women’s nylon stockings)
      Boar's bristle toothbrushes

      Boar’s bristle toothbrushes

    6. Soft-serve ice cream may or may not have been invented that year, by someone in Illinois, maybe. Or by a young Margaret Thatcher. Depends on whom you ask.
    7. The National Arborists Association was established. It, too, is still around. Woo.
    8. A demonstration of the Drunk-o-Meter

      A demonstration of the Drunk-o-Meter

    9. The Drunk-o-Meter, an early form of the breathalyzer test for drunkenness, made its debut.
    10. This Ferragamo shoe (I know, again with the shoes):



    11. The board game Scrabble was invented, but it wasn’t called Scrabble yet.
    12. And finally, this … vehicle:

      Tractorcycle. Did not catch on.

      Tractorcycle. Did not catch on.

    Did anything surprise you? More to come!

    In 1938: What a Year, Part I, we talked 1930s fashion, namely, shoes.