Thus, Corrigan took off to the east with everyone, except maybe for himself and the airport manager (although the manager denied any such knowledge), expecting him to turn around and head west. Just over 28 hours later, Corrigan landed his Curtiss Robin OX-5 at Baldonnel Airport, in Dublin, Ireland. It had been his dream to fly non-stop to Ireland but federal officials in the USA had not certified his plane as ready for such a flight even though he had repeatedly modified it for such a trip. Upon arrival in Ireland he was questioned by authorities over and over again about how it was he had flown to Ireland instead of to California as had been his flight plan. He repeatedly stated that he had taken off in thick fog, rose to an altitude where he was surrounded by thick fog or cloud cover, had to fly using his compass alone as a directional aid, and that when he finally broke cloud cover and got more light, about 26 hours into his flight, the additional available light allowed him to see he had been reading his compass incorrectly and flying east instead of west. Despite the disbelief of Irish officials, he stuck to that story finally telling them: "That's My Story"! In fact, he stuck with it for the rest of his life and even wrote a book, his autobiography, by that name. All that regardless of the suspected fact that he supposedly had plans to disregard U.S. aviation officials and fly to Ireland without their permission. (He reportedly had discussed his plans, earlier on, with friends.)
His pilot's license was suspended for a short time but was reinstated by the time he had returned to America. He and his plane returned by ship. He came back to an America still ravaged by the Great Depression and yet he was given a hero's welcome. A parade was held in his honor, in a blizzard of ticker-tape despite the 93.1 degree temperature in NYC on August 4, 1938. It was reported that 1 million people attended his parade, more people than attended the parade for Charles Lindbergh. (Disappointingly for Corrigan, Lindbergh never recognized Corrigan's accomplishment.) I do not know who coined his nickname, but from then on he was referred to as 'Wrong Way Corrigan' and the NY Post ran the headline "Hail Wrong Way Corrigan" printed backwards.
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Above jpg found at Wikipedia.
He certainly was a different sort of man than most we see today; he had brass balls so to speak for having tried that feat in his plane considering the condition it was in at the time. Pay attention to the Wikipedia article when they quote a reporter who gave the plane a once over after it had arrived in Ireland. It was in scary condition from the sound of it - quite possibly truly not airworthy after all, making this flight all the more amazing. Maybe they should have added another word to his moniker and had it come out like: Crazy Wrong Way Corrigan or Ballsy Wrong Way Corrigan. Whatever the real reason for him having flown the wrong way though, he assured himself a sort of immortality by his having done so. Today, 73 years later, we still often refer to folks with a bumbling poor sense of direction with the term Wrong Way placed before their names (and now you know why if you did not know before).
Ironically, his son was killed in an air crash in the 1970s. In 1988 he celebrated the golden jubilee of his flight and rolled the Robin out of her hangar. Police reportedly considered tethering the plane to the ground so he would not fly off in it! He passed away in 1995. There is a lot more to Douglas 'Wrong Way' Corrigan's story but without a doubt, his wrong way flight made him famous and ultimately made him rich. If you want to read more about him go to the references below. The one at Wikipedia is longer and has much more of his story, it is pretty fascinating but either one is a good read.
All the best,