A Capital Landing

A look back at Claude Grahame-White’s 1910 landing next to the White House.

Photo: NASM Archives. Group photograph of 16 men posed standing in front of Claude Grahame-White's Farman biplane, Washington, D.C., October 14, 1910. Left to right: Richard R. Sinclair, James C. Barr, Major George O. Squier (US Army), Brig. Gen. James O. Murray (US Army), Capt. H. B. Wilson (US Navy, back row), Commissioner Johnson (back row), John Barry Ryan, Brig. Gen. A. W. Greeley (Ret., back row), Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood, Gen. Oliver, Gen. James Allen (back row), Claude Grahame-White, Admiral Dewey, Clifford S. Harmon, Sidney McDonald, and Maj. Gen. James A. Bell.

The writer at Ghosts of DC posted some great photos of Claude Grahame-White’s 1910 flight into Washington, D.C. Quite literally, the English aeronaut landed his small Farman biplane right next to the White House; he was arriving to visit officers in the State, War and Navy building. (We particularly like this image with the pilot’s doppelgänger doll.)

We thought we’d see what other photos exist for that 1910 flight. Above is a group shot, from the National Air and Space Museum collection, taken after landing and showing many of the officers Grahame-White came to visit (that’s him in the boots and bow-tie, fifth from the right).

Flying anywhere near the White House is certainly a rarity these days, although we’ll get to experience it soon when space shuttle Discovery is flown here to join the National Air & Space Museum at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia. The shuttle and the 747 it’ll be piggybacking have gotten permission to fly over the D.C. area before landing at Dulles International Airport.

Last year we cataloged some of the times aircraft have buzzed the capital, from daredevil aviators to giant airships.

We’ve written about Graham-White before, too, most notably how the Wright brothers “loathed the sight” of him.

It wasn’t just the Englishman’s smirking—though undeniably handsome—face that riled the brothers. It was his swagger, his lifestyle and his love of self-publicity. What really drove Wilbur and Orville mad was that in their eyes, Grahame-White was a charlatan, a man who knew nothing about aeronautics except that it was a good way to make a fast buck.

Photo: NASM Archives. Claude Grahame-White posed next to his aircraft.

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