Living the Wild Life

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On our recent trip to visit out oldest son in Oregon, we went for a nice hike one day at a  national wildlife refuge. A portion of the refuge borders on the Columbia River. It was a peaceful place and it was mostly an overcast day with occasional splotches of sun breaking through.

There are lots of grasses, brush, trees, birds, turtles, rabbits and other critters in the preserve, though we didn’t see some of the more obscure ones. The birdsong filled the air and though at times they weren’t visible, their songs were lovely.

At the end of the hike on the side of the outhouses is a board where people can list the animals that they saw. My wife added some bird species to her “life list” and to the board. Not to be outdone, I added that we’d seen a bigfoot…but I wasn’t able to get a picture because I had put my shoes back on!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1938, Douglas Corrigan, the last of the early glory-seeking fliers, took off from Floyd Bennett field in Brooklyn, New York, on a flight that would finally win him a place in aviation history.

Eleven years earlier, American Charles A. Lindbergh had become an international celebrity with his solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic. Corrigan was among the mechanics who had worked on Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis aircraft, but that mere footnote in the history of flight was not enough for the Texas-born aviator. In 1938, he bought a 1929 Curtiss Robin aircraft off a trash heap, rebuilt it, and modified it for long-distance flight. In July 1938, Corrigan piloted the single-engine plane nonstop from California to New York. Although the transcontinental flight was far from unprecedented, Corrigan received national attention simply because the press was amazed that his rattletrap aircraft had survived the journey.

Almost immediately after arriving in New York, he filed plans for a transatlantic flight, but aviation authorities deemed it a suicide flight, and he was promptly denied. Instead, they would allow Corrigan to fly back to the West Coast, and on July 17 he took off from Floyd Bennett field, ostentatiously pointed west. However, a few minutes later, he made a 180-degree turn and vanished into a cloudbank to the puzzlement of a few onlookers.

Twenty-eight hours later, Corrigan landed his plane in Dublin, Ireland, stepped out of his plane, and exclaimed, “Just got in from New York. Where am I?” He claimed that he lost his direction in the clouds and that his compass had malfunctioned. The authorities didn’t buy the story and suspended his license, but Corrigan stuck to it to the amusement of the public on both sides of the Atlantic. By the time “Wrong Way” Corrigan and his crated plane returned to New York by ship, his license suspension had been lifted, he was a national celebrity, and a mob of autograph seekers met him on the gangway.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Elias Howe (1819-1867) said one inspiration for his invention of the sewing machine came from a nightmare he had about being attacked by cannibals bearing spears that looked like the needle he then designed.

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