On this day in 1909, the United States government purchased its first military aircraft, designed by the Wright brothers and costing $30,000.
Earlier, in 1908, the U.S. Army Signal Corps requested bids for a two-seat observation aircraft. Orville Wright went to Fort Myer, Virginia, with the Wright airplane to demonstrate its capability. Midway through the trials, however, the Wright airplane malfunctioned and crashed, severely injuring Orville and killing his passenger, Lt. Thomas Selfridge—the first fatality in a powered airplane.
With a new airplane, the brothers returned to Fort Myer in 1909 and successfully completed their demonstration. On August 2, 1909, the Signal Corps officially accepted the Wright airplane. The 1909 Wright Military Flyer was used to train Army pilots.