Douglas Corrigan was born in Galveston, Texas, in 1907. His family moved around often. After his parents divorced, Douglas settled in Los Angeles with his mother. At eighteen, he decided to visit a local airfield. He watched excitedly as a pilot took passengers for a ride in an old bi-plane for $2.50 a trip. Not having the fare at the time, Douglas returned the next week with the money and in anticipation of his first flight. He was hooked. He started flying lessons. Five months later Douglas Corrigan made his first solo flight.
After working on the east coast for a small passenger air service, he decided to return to California. For the trip, Douglas bought a used Curtiss-Robin monoplane for $310. Back at home, he restored and improved his aircraft, and as a mechanic he began to modify it for a transatlantic journey.
Douglas Corrigan had a plan up his sleeve. He would land in New York at night after officials went home, fill his gas tanks, and leave for Ireland. But mechanical problems delayed his departure and bad weather made the trip impossible. Maybe next
- and he returned to California.
In early July of 1938, Corrigan again arrived in New York. After a short stay he was given permission to fly back home. But by July 17th, it was his time to act. He took off from a field in Brooklyn at dawn in a thick fog. A few onlookers watched him climb into the clouds. Well, Douglas Corrigan flew eastward, not westward. He had no radio and his compass was outdated.
He said later that the high point of his life was not the journey but that President Franklin Roosevelt assured him that he didn’t doubt Corrigan’s story for a minute.
When Corrigan was 81 years old in 1988, his original Curtiss-Robin plane went on display at an air show. It had to be put under guard . . . so that “Wrong Way” wouldn’t be able to take off one last time.