The elusive and exclusive ‘Mile-High Club’ celebrates its 100th anniversary

A photo of Lawrence Burst Sperry's plane that crashed off Long Island, New York.

A photo of Lawrence Burst Sperry's plane that crashed off Long Island, New York.  (YouTube)

It’s a group that takes smarts, courage and stamina to become a part of. Many have tried to join, but only few have made it “all the way.”

But for those who have, they will always be members of this elite – the mile-high club. Yes, those lucky people who have dodged pesky flight attendants, risked personal injury or falls into that gross blue toilet water and keep quiet long enough to not wake their fellow passengers – all in an effort to get busy in an airplane bathroom.

But where did the act of in-flight intercourse start and which was the first lucky couple who did the deed in the more-than-friendly skies? It just so happens, as legend holds, that the first couple to, well, couple did so 100 years ago this month, except that instead of getting freaky in a cramped bathroom, they probably did it in a small plane.

The origins of the mile-high club can be traced back to one man: Lawrence Burst Sperry.

This aviator, adventurer, inventor and libertine was the man who basically invented autopilot all the way back in 1914. Using a gyroscope to stabilize the yaw, pitch and roll of the plane, Sperry was able to perform aerial tricks such as wing-walking.

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Apparently Sperry wasn’t satisfied with the thrill of walking on a plane’s wing and one day decided it would be nice to take a Mrs. Waldo Pierce – described as a sexy, and married, socialite – for a flight off Long Island, New York.

While in the air, something apparently went wrong with the gyroscope and the plane crashed into the water. When rescuers arrived on the scene, they discovered that nobody was hurt but that both Perry and Mrs. Pierce were missing their clothing.

“When the rescue boats came over they found these two naked people hanging off the side of boat,” Josh Stoff, the curator of the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, L.I., told the New York Daily News.

Sperry tried to play the bare blunder off by saying that the crash ripped off the couple’s garments, but one newspaper seemed to know the real reason, writing the headline, “Aerial Petting Ends in Wetting.”

And thus the mile-high club was born.

Now with the 100th anniversary of the first on-board nookie upon us, it seems an apt time to join the club … as long as one is respectful and a bit furtive.

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