Historians Unearth George Washington’s Pilot License

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Researchers at the national archives have uncovered a document linked to the first President of the United States that may forever change the way we view him.

Recent presidential comments inspired us to do some research into President George Washington and his experience with flight, planes, and airports in general,” Dr. Susan McRiffleson of the National Archives’ presidential history department told reporters this morning. “Obviously heretofore most of us presumed that there was nothing to research in terms of George Washington and flight, because, well, he died more than a hundred years before humankind was flying on its own accord, but in the times we live in, we’re constantly learning new things that we thought didn’t happen, couldn’t happen, or wouldn’t happen, so here we are.”

McRiffleson says she and her team spent hours going over every document from the Revolutionary War that pertained to Washington that they could. At one point, Dr. McRiffleson says her staff was ready to call it a day, but then someone found a scrap of paper stuck to the back of a cocktail napkin Washington had used at a bar at which he planned a daring assault on a British airfield. The paper stuck to the napkin? Washington’s pilot’s license.

“Needless to say, first we were stunned to find the battle plans for the Continental Army’s daring attempt to overtake a British airfield,” McRiffleson said, “but when we turned the cocktail napkin over and found his license to fly planes? Well, needless to say we were all completely blown away.”

It turns out, Washington was an avid aerospace aficionado. He studied flight all day, every day. Some called him “Flighty George” because of it, Dr. McRiffleson said. That fact was previously known to historians, she said, but they never had the full context.

“We thought it was because he was a little, you know, flighty, cagey, couldn’t be pinned down, so to speak,” McRiffleson explained, “but now we know it literally meant he loved flight.”

McRiffleson says she has no clue how Washington would have secured the pilot’s license, for a number of reasons.

“I mean, we still haven’t established that flight was invented before the Wright brothers did their thing, so there’s still not a lot that’s making sense about this whole thing yet,” Dr. McRiffleson said. “But we do have a couple leads. Someone found an old school phone booth with a phone book that lists dates and period in time, not phone numbers, so we’re going to check that out most triumphantly later.”

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