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During a demonstration flight for the US Army, whilst flying with Orville Wright, the Wright Flyer Model A crashed, claiming the life of passenger Lt Thomas Selfridge.
>[O]n September 17, 1908 Orville Wright was at the controls flying with pilot Lt. Thomas Selfridge, who was Secretary of the Aerial Experiment Association. With 2,000 onlookers, the two took off at 5:14 pm and about four minutes into the flight one of the two wooden propellers split and Wright shut down the engine. But it was too late. Traveling at about 40 mph and at a height of about 70 feet, the airplane made a quick ten foot rise, before slamming straight into the ground with terrific force.
>Lieutenant Selfridge was knocked unconscious and covered with blood and had to be extricated from the under the plane’s engine and fuel tank which had fallen on top of him. Wright was bleeding and had suffered a broken left thigh and several broken ribs but was conscious for a short time before passing out. Both men were transported to the hospital.
>Selfridge never regained consciousness and died from a fractured skull and internal injuries at 8:10 p.m. that evening, becoming the world’s first airplane fatality. Wright would recover from his injuries after several weeks.
Despite the tragedy, the Wright Brothers were able to salvage the engine of the wrecked aircraft and build a new aircraft around it. They then used this new aeroplane, the Wright Military Flyer, to complete the military trials in 1909, halted the previous year due to the crash.