Newspapers on this date in 1908 reported on aviation’s first fatality the day before, and the serious injury of the airplane’s co-inventor. Orville Wright had been demonstrating an aircraft for the Army at Fort Myer, Virginia. With Orville at the controls, Army Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge went up as a passenger, as a test of possible military use of the airplane by the Army Signal Corps. Four minutes into the flight, the plane crashed, killing Selfridge and seriously injuring Orville Wright. In the years since, flying has become routine and very safe. U.S. airlines carry more than 700 million passengers annually on more than 10 million flights. In recent years, the number of accidents with fatalities has varied from 1 to 3 a year. Profile America is in its 16th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.
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