Theodore Roosevelt was many things besides the 26th President of the United States. Of course, he gained great notoriety as a soldier. We’ve touched on his passion for nature and the preservation of America’s wilderness. Along with that was his love of hunting and exploring, which took him to Africa (on safari), Europe, and eventually South America.
Roosevelt was clearly something of an adventurer, which probably explains his willingness to subject himself to one of the newer inventions of the day…the airplane. The first image that might be conjured up in your mind might be of the former President strapping himself into one of our modern aircraft. As the photo above verifies, that is not the case. In fact, the only resemblance between today’s aircraft and the one that carried Roosevelt was its ability to defy gravity.
It was low-flying, slow-flying, built by the Wright brothers, made of wood, and powered by just a few horsepower. It was probably an airplane I wouldn’t be the least bit nervous riding in…or would I? It had been just a couple of years before that a very similar craft had crashed during a demonstration to the Army, killing the Army’s observer/passenger and leaving Orville Wright seriously injured.
So there was some consternation when Roosevelt, foregoing a flight suit, helmet, and oxygen, climbed aboard to ride with pilot Arch Hoxsey in his plane on October 11, 1910. Fortunately, the 4-minute flight was completed without incident, and Theodore Roosevelt had the distinct pleasure of not only escaping the bonds of gravity, but being the first President to do so.