Saturday, June 1, 2013

Houdini was the 25th person to fly


We all know Houdini was the first person to fly a plane in Australia. That's his aviation milestone and it's in the history books (no matter what cranks on Wikipedia say). But while listening to The Secret Life of Houdini audiobook in my car the other day (yes, I'm doing that), a sentence flashed by that blew my mind. Because it revealed what I think is an even more remarkable Houdini aviation fact:

"With Brassac on hand to assemble the machine and to instruct the fledging pilot, Houdini was poised to become the twenty-fifth man to conquer the air in a powered craft."

Twenty-fifth! Somehow I think this is even more impressive than being #1 in Australia. It's a remarkably low number. The Wright Brothers first flew in December of 1903. By 1909, when Houdini bought his Voisin bi-plane in Germany, I assumed hundreds of men had flown.

But this just shows how difficult it was to fly in those days. Not to mention that flying was also deadly. Not all of those 25 survived. It took nerves of steel to climb behind the wheel or what was essentially a motorized box-kite that could soar over 100 feet. But that's Houdini!


(Of course, I've not tried very hard to confirm this fact.)

10 comments:

  1. Well I thought you should know that when you Google this, your page is the first result. So it must be true!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Much as I respect and care for Houdini, I doubt thisw is correct.

    Dick Brookz

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Like I said, I haven't tried to confirm it, but it's in Kalush. I heard it in the audiobook. I'lll try to find the page number.

      Delete
    2. Page 241: "With Brassac on hand to assemble the machine and to instruct the fledging pilot, Houdini was poised to become the twenty-fifth man to conquer the air in a powered craft."

      (I'm going to add this to the post.)

      No source for this in Laid Bare.

      Delete
  3. I found something in Laid Bare. The source appears to be a May 1910 aviation journal called Building. The article is " Australian Ariel Engineering."

    It might be in there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I saw that, but I kinda think that might be sourcing something about Australian flight. This sentence appears before HH heads Down Under.

      Delete
  4. And he still never drove a car. He could have been number 238,882.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm...not sure about that:

      http://www.wildabouthoudini.com/2011/01/houdini-and-his-humber.html

      Delete
  5. There is mention mention of Houdini as the 17th person to fly a plane in "the final official seance" 1936 recording at 4:55 "Houdini spent much time in aeronautics... and was one of the first 17 flyers in the world" source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnmY0kX8U6s

    ReplyDelete

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