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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Selfridge, Thomas Etholen, 1882-1908



  • Existence: 1882-1908

Biographical Note

Thomas Etholen Selfridge was born on February 8, 1882 in San Francisco, California. In 1903, he graduated from the United States Military Academy. In 1907, he was assigned to the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps at Fort Myer, Virginia, where he was later instructed in flying a dirigible. He was also a member of the Aerial Experiment Association, which was founded by Alexander Graham Bell.

Selfridge took his first flight on December 6, 1907, on Bell's tetrahedral kite, the Cygnet. This was the first recorded passenger flight of any heavier-than-air craft in Canada. He designed Red Wing, the AEA's first powered aicraft.

He died on September 17, 1908, never recovering from head injuries sustained during a demonstration flight of the Wright Military Flyer at Fort Myer, Virginia, thus making him the first person to die in an airplane crash. The plane was piloted by Orville Wright, who also sustained grave injuries.

Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:

Biographical Information Files - S

Scope and Contents Individuals whose names begin with S: Sachs, Donald G. [Aeronautical engineer, B-17 pilot] Brief resumeObituaries, 1998 Saint Exupery, Antoine de [Pilot, author] "The Spirit of Saint-Exupery," no source, undated"Wind, Sand and Wars," Air & Space, December 1994/January 1995 Sakai, Saburo [WWII Japanese fighter...

Alexander Graham Bell and the Aerial Experiment Association Photograph Collection

Identifier: 2018-10-01-B
Abstract 25 photographs of Alexander Graham Bell and other members of the Aerial Experiment Association along with their aerodrome aircraft; souvenir booklet of the association; 2 photomechanical prints signed by J.A. McCurdy.

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