Orville Wright was showing off a new “aeroplane” at Fort Myer, Va., for about 2,000 people, including Army brass. He took up a 26-year-old lieutenant in the Army Signal Corps, Thomas E. Selfridge, “an aeroplanist himself,” according to the report in this newspaper.
Earlier that year, Lt. Selfridge had been the first military officer to pilot an airplane.
Contemporary accounts vary, but the pair apparently made three and a half successful circuits at an altitude of about 75 feet, before a propeller split and hit other parts of the plane, causing it to crash.
Selfridge was killed, Wright badly injured. With his brother Wilbur, he continued work on improving airplane design.
“My brothers will pursue these tests until the machines are as near perfect as it is possible to make them,” Lorin Wright told reporters right after the crash, “if they are not killed in the meantime.”