NATIONAL WRONG WAY CORRIGAN DAY | JULY 17
National Wrong Way Corrigan Day on July 17th commemorates the transatlantic flight of an Irish-American stunt pilot from Galveston, Texas. Douglas Corrigan (January 22, 1907 – December 9, 1995) gained notoriety for an unplanned transatlantic flight to Ireland on July 17, 1938.
Growing up as a boy, Douglas Corrigan’s fascination with flight was not uncommon. Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight may have been the most impressionable moment in his young life. In 1938, the young stunt pilot flew from his home in California to New York. Upon his arrival, he asked for permission to duplicate his hero’s historic flight. Unfortunately, the flight service quickly denied his request due to the age of his 1929 Curtiss Robin aircraft.
With only a magnetic compass, Corrigan advised officials he was returning to California. According to the story, after takeoff, cloud cover prevented Corrigan from accurate navigation. When Corrigan dropped below the clouds hours later, he saw nothing but water. Then Corrigan realized his navigation was off. Despite the confusion, he continued on his journey. Surprisingly, 28 hours later, he landed in Ireland.
Corrigan’s story of his flight never faltered. Despite accusations that he secretly planned this flight, Corrigan held fast to his original explanation.
After the Flight
The wayward pilot wrote about his misadventure in his memoir, That’s My Story. While out of print, you can find a few copies for the right price. Corrigan also received a movie deal and soon played himself in The Flying Irishman. During World War II, he tested bombers. After the war, the stunt man toured the country with other familiar war heroes in parades. As the notoriety died down, Corrigan settled into a quiet life with his wife and family. Occasionally fame would catch up to him again when Corrigan would run into a reporter who wanted to question the veracity of his story.
HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL WRONG WAY CORRIGAN
Explore the history of transatlantic flight and more stories like Douglas Corrigan’s. Watch The Flying Irishman or visit an air museum. Use #WrongWayCorriganDay to share on social media. Explore these other 8 Amazing Firsts in Flight, too!
NATIONAL WRONG WAY CORRIGAN DAY HISTORY
National Wrong Way Corrigan Day originates with the date Corrigan left New York in 1938. The first celebration took place in 1987 when Long Island commemorated the 49th anniversary of Corrigan’s flight. The city hosted a parade in honor of the 80-year-old pilot. The celebration was given the name “Wrong Way Corrigan Day.” In 1992, Corrigan’s hometown of Galveston, Texas, also proclaimed Wrong Way Corrigan Day. They chose the date of January 22nd, celebrating their hometown hero’s birthday.