Saturday, November 30, 2013

Wrong Way Corrigan

Los Angeles, 
1938


On a foggy morning in July 1938, an aircraft mechanic named Douglass Corrigan took off in a jerry-built plane from an airfield in Brooklyn. Disappearing into the haze, he carried with him two boxes of fig bars, some chocolate bars, and a quart of water, along with a U.S. map marked with a flight plan to California. Twenty-eight hours later, he landed in Dublin, Ireland. Repeatedly denied permission to fly across the Atlantic, he told the authorities that he left New York the previous day, heading for the West Coast, but “got mixed up in the clouds and must have flown the wrong way,” explaining that the low-light conditions caused him to misread the compass. That was his story and he stuck to it. Hailed in the press as “Wrong Way” Corrigan, the 31-year-old aviator captured the imagination of a Depression-weary public, becoming a national celebrity overnight. Even President Roosevelt got into the act, saying that he never doubted for a minute the likeable Texan’s implausible explanation of the daring feat. 



Returning to the United States by sea, Corrigan was greeted in New York Harbor by ships blowing their whistles and fireboats pumping streams of water into the air. America’s newest aviation hero was also given a ticker tape parade down Broadway, where he was cheered by more than a million people, exceeding the number that welcomed aviator Charles Lindbergh eleven years earlier when he returned after his historic flight to Paris. In September, Corrigan was honored at a luncheon at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in the Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Employing the same format as the newspaper headlines, the bill of fare on the menu below is printed backwards. In addition, the courses are listed in reverse order, making it even more difficult to read. Further embellishing the running joke, Corrigan’s rickety airplane is shown flying upside down. 


Corrigan quickly wrote a book that was published in time for Christmas, and the following year, RKO Studios released a movie called “The Flying Irishman” which chronicled his infamous flight. During all of this publicity and forever afterward, Corrigan maintained that he had simply done a poor job of navigation that day, causing him to land more than 5,000 miles from his intended destination. 

3 comments:

Jeanne Schinto said...

Oh, that's a good one, Henry!

deana sidney said...

Made me a little dizzy reading it but great good fun as always!!!

Gary Gillman said...

Interesting and a good example of a time when menus were sometimes used for purposes other than strictly conveying the choices: adornment, humour, in particular. We have lost this side of menu design for the most part I think.

Gary