atoz Barsbooks-stackBritish_Telecomcalendar caret-downcaret-left caret-rightcaret-upChartchevron-bottomchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-topcloseComment delta-down Email FacebookHarthistory_logo_black history_logo_white history minus-sign-black open-book Pinterest play-circleplayplus-sign-black Post SearchSignalsvg-defstalktalktelevision tw-like tw-reply tw-retweet tw-verified TwitterTwitter2user-shapeusersVineWhatsApp Youtube

this day in history 1908

Charley Furnas became first ever passenger on an airplane

He still had to pay extra for headphones

If you have ever been trapped on a jumbo jet between a wheezy, overweight, sweaty systems analyst who keeps hogging your armrest and a child who is continually trying to shove a Transformer up your nose, in a small part you have Charley Furnas to thank. Because on this day in 1908, Furnas became the first ever passenger on an airplane. The Wright brothers were desperate to market their new crazy flying device to the US military, but the Army was only interested if it could be shown to carry something other than Wright brothers.

Orville and Wilbur adapted their rudimentary airplane to, at first, carry a sandbag and then, eventually, a real human being. Charley, a mechanic and friend of the brothers who helped put the plane together, was picked to be the lucky guinea pig. He rode with both Wilbur and then Orville, being one of the few people to fly with both brothers. Thanks to Charley, the military did start buying planes from the Wrights. And, incredibly, Charley was served a small, inexplicable packet of nuts on that very first flight. No he wasn’t. I made that up.