December 8, 2008

Easier to ask forgiveness...

It might have been retired Navy Commodore Mac Gleim – a fellow native Nebraskan – who first told me about “Wrong-Way Corrigan” back in the early 1960s.

Gleim was a pilot in Navy Attack Squadron 172, and I was the Flight Records Yeoman. I spent a lot of time in our squadron “Ready Room,” where I vividly remember first hearing the astounding story of one Douglas Corrigan.

It seems Corrigan was a talented aircraft mechanic and pilot who aspired to fly the North Atlantic, just like his hero, Charles Lindbergh, had done some years earlier. Corrigan worked for Ryan Aeornautical Company in San Diego and had been involved in helping modify Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis” for its 1927 trans-Atlantic flight.

Despite Corrigan’s continuing request for federal permission to make the grueling flight, he never received approval. And so it was he took off from Floyd Bennett field in Brooklyn one foggy July morning in 1937, supposedly en route home to California. He was flying a Curtiss Robin OX5 monoplane.

The rest of the story gets even more interesting…and that's no blarney!

Spearfish friend Don Matthesen passed along information about Lowell "Wrongway" Ferguson, who was piloting his Western Airlines 737 plane to Sheridan, Wyoming, but ended up in nearby Buffalo. That was back in July of 1979, and Buffalo now celebrates the event each year. You can visit Jol Silversmith's website to learn about other airline misdirections.


Visit Wikipedia to learn more about Douglas Corrigan.

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