Pilot Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan took off from New York on a cross-country flight west to California . . . and landed 5,000 kilometers (3,000 miles) east, in Dublin, Ireland.

Photograph by the Office of War Information, courtesy Library of Congress

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    On July 17, 1938, aviator Douglas Corrigan departed from Brooklyn, New York, for a cross-country trip west, to California—but landed more than 5,000 kilometers (3,000 miles) east . . . in Dublin, Ireland, the next day. “Wrong-Way” Corrigan blamed his transatlantic flight on heavy clouds that disrupted his navigation, but most people don’t think it was a mistake at all.
     
    Corrigan was a skilled aircraft mechanic and experienced pilot. Inspired by Charles Lindbergh, Corrigan put together his own plane from spare parts. His plane had no radio, the compass was 20 years old, and Corrigan couldn’t even see out of the plane’s windshield—his fuel tanks were mounted there. His application to fly across the Atlantic Ocean was denied.
     
    Corrigan claimed he realized his “error” 10 or 12 hours into his flight—too long to turn back. He safely landed in Dublin 28 hours after he departed from New York. He took a ship back to the U.S.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    aviator Noun

    pilot of an aircraft.

    cloud Noun

    visible mass of tiny water droplets or ice crystals in Earth's atmosphere.

    Encyclopedic Entry: cloud
    compass Noun

    instrument used to tell direction.

    Encyclopedic Entry: compass
    depart Verb

    to leave.

    disrupt Verb

    to interrupt.

    fuel Noun

    material that provides power or energy.

    inspire Verb

    to influence to act.

    mechanic Noun

    person who builds or repairs machinery and vehicles.

    navigation Noun

    art and science of determining an object's position, course, and distance traveled.

    Encyclopedic Entry: navigation
    pilot Noun

    person who steers a ship or aircraft.

    transatlantic Adjective

    across the Atlantic Ocean.