Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The Mile High Club's origins
It seems that the Mile High Club may be rather older than one might imagine.
It's said that the first recorded incident of mile-high mischief may have been undertaken by a pilot, one Lawrence Sperry, and his trainee pilot passenger, Mrs. (!) Waldo Polk, in November 1916. The two were airborne in his Curtiss flying-boat over South Bay, New York at the time.
Apparently their efforts had something other than the desired result. Their aircraft crashed and the two were found naked in the wreckage by some passing duck-hunters. Allegedly Mr. Sperry explained that the crash had 'divested' them of their clothing.
If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you. Cash only, please, and in small bills.
I'm also intrigued to learn that Mr. Sperry was involved in the design and testing of the first autopilot for aircraft. I'd always assumed that it was a labor-saving device for the pilot. It now appears that he may have had in mind freeing the pilot for entirely another kind of effort . . .
At any rate, the Club seems to have maintained a steady popularity among travelers. A recent poll conducted by the Airlines Web site showed that 9% of respondents had done the deed up there. Interestingly, both sexes registered a similar response, which tends to support the accuracy of the survey result.
Personally, I've never even tried. Any readers out there who can enlighten us on what's so attractive about the idea? If so, please add your comments and stories.