Wrong Way Corrigan headlineHe took off from Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennet Field on July 17, 1938, heading for Long Beach, California in a beat up Curtiss Robin OX-5 monoplane, but somehow landed 28 hours later in Ireland, making today


Douglas Corrigan was a 30 year-old high school dropout who had been working as an aircraft mechanic and sometime flyer in his hometown of Los Angeles.

In 1927 he had became a small part of aviation history when he helped modify Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis for his historic first trans-Atlantic flight, and was inspired to become a flyer himself. He saved his money and, 10 years later, bought an 8 year-old aircraft (elderly for the lightweight and rickety early airplanes), which he modified over the next year to fly long distances.

He applied to the Bureau of Air Commerce for permission to fly to Ireland, but his plane was deemed unsound and was denied, but eventually permitted to fly from California to New York and back.

He landed unannounced at Floyd Bennet Field on July 10, interrupting the preparations for Howard Hughes’ world tour, leaking both oil and fuel. His logged flight plan had him returning to California on July 17, which didn’t give him enough time to overhaul his engine properly. Nonetheless, on that day Corrigan took off under heavy cloud cover, flying above the clouds where he would encounter less turbulence.

28 hours later, still leaking oil and gasoline, he landed at Baldonnel Aerodrome in County Dublin, Ireland in the greatest “whoops!” ever made, and Wrong Way Corrigan was a household name all over the world. Corrigan never admitted it was anything but a mistake, and gave several conflicting reports of exactly when he realized he was headed in the wrong direction.

Some mistake. Corrigan wrote a bestselling book about his flight, “That’s My Story,” starred in a movie called “The Flying Irishman” for $75,000 ( a fortune in the 1930s), and endorsed many “Wrong Way” products, earning many times what he would as an aircraft mechanic.

During World War 2, he test-piloted new warplanes for the US Army, ran and lost for Senator, then flew as a commercial pilot before retiring from aviation in 1950 and buying an orange grove in California, not wishing to push his Irish luck.

•Suggested Activities:  Looking for four leaf clovers

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