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DogsBite.org - While browsing through The New York Times historical archives recently, we happened upon an incident in 1911 where a "big white bull terrier" (known today as a pit bull) darted into a whirling propeller of a biplane killing itself. The force of the blow split the propeller and knocked a corner loose. The daring aviator, Harry N. Atwood, wanted to risk the flight with a piece of the blade still hanging, but was cautioned by his mechanics to replace the propeller.
Atwood opted to wire the damaged propeller and 15 minutes later, fired up the engine again. Passenger Charles K. Hamilton, another historic aviator, climbed inside and the two were off. After rising two hundred feet, the plane crashed into the ocean. Both men survived, and with the help of onlookers, dragged the wrecked machine back to shore. According to the Times, the two men laughed as they emerged from the water. The dog wasn't mentioned again.1
Atwood's Flight Stopped by a Dog
Atlantic City, NJ, July 7 - Harry N. Atwood, carrying Charles K. Hamilton as a passenger, started for Washington in his aeroplane this afternoon on the last leg of his 518-mile journey for the cup offered by The New York Times, but had hardly risen from the beach when a big white bull terrier ran across the sands and poked its nose into one of the whirling propellers. The dog was killed and the force of the blow split the propeller for about six or seven inches and knocked one corner of it loose.
Atwood's mechanic and people in the crowd shouted to him and he shut off his power to discover the extent of the injury. He was willing to risk it with the piece of blade hanging. (The New York Times, July 8, 1911)
In 2009, a pet pit bull bolted into a train killing itself and its owner who had securely wrapped -- possibly even knotted -- the leash around her hand. The young woman could not stop the dog nor undo the leash wrap in time. Numerous incidents have been documented when a pit bull has attacked an automobile; most occurrences involve a human being inside. None of these victims laughed afterward, nor would the aviators of 1911 had either man been killed.2
2There was another story we found during the same search, "Johnny No Match for the Dog," that did not have an uplifting ending. A 14-year old boy was brutally attacked by a bull terrier. Police pumped 5 bullets into the animal but it later "got up and ran away." Eventually, the dog was driven into a vacant lot and "its brains beaten out." (December 3, 1893)
12/14/10: Pit Bulls Attack Student Driver's Vehicle, Two Persons Inside
10/01/10: Pit Bull Deflates All Four Tires of Cumberland County Deputy's Cruiser
06/08/09: Pit Bull Drags Adult Owner into Oncoming Train, Killing Her