17 September 1908 First powered aircraft fatality



Thomas Etholen Selfridge  was a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army and the first person to die in a crash of a powered aeroplane. He was a passenger on an aircraft piloted by Orville Wright. 

When Orville Wright came to Fort Myer to demonstrate the Wright Flyer for the US Army, Selfridge arranged to be a passenger while Orville piloted the craft. The Wright Flyer circled Fort Myer 4½ times at 150 feet but during the fifth circuit, the right propeller broke, losing thrust.




When the craft hit the ground, both Selfridge and Wright were thrown against the remaining wires. Selfridge was thrown against one of the wooden uprights of the framework, and his skull was fractured. He underwent neurosurgery but died that evening without regaining consciousness.  Orville suffered severe injuries, including a broken left thigh, several broken ribs and a damaged hip, and was hospitalized for seven weeks.

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