100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

First Pilot Killed In Warfare

In September 1908 Orville Wright was giving demonstrations of his aeroplane to the US Army at Fort Meyer, Virginia. With him was an official observer for the Army, Lt. Thomas Selfridge. At an altitude of 100 feet, the propeller split and shattered and the aeroplane fell to the ground. Wrigth spent 7 weeks in the hospital. Selfridge suffered a skull fracture and died. This is the first fatality caused by an aeroplane.

In August 1910 Glenn Curtiss flew US Army marksman 2nd Lt. Jacob E Fickel at a racetrack at Sheepshead Bay, New York. Lt. Fickel held onto a wing strut with one arm and fired a .30 caliber Springfield infantry rifle with the other at a target from 100 feet. This is the first time a gun was fired from an aeroplane.

Although a touring exhibition pilot was used to reconnoiter positions during the Mexican Revolution in 1910, several first wartime achievements in flight took place during the Italian-Turkish War of 1911. In October 1911 the first wartime use of a plane took place in Libya when Captain Carlo Piazza made the first reconnaissance flight in the history of war near Benghazi. Also that month Captain Ricardo Moizo became the first pilot to have his plane hit by a gun with 3 bullet holes in the wing while flying in combat over an encampment of 6,000 men. This is the first time an airplane has received gunfire during war.

On August 25, 1912 Lt Piero Manzini crashed into the sea immediately after take-off from Tripoli on a photo reconnaissance mission. The is the first aeroplane pilot killed in combat.

Italian Air Fleet
1912

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