Everyone makes mistakes, but some of us make the same mistake over and over again.

Like how, back in the 1950s, one guy made the same baffling choice two times: he got drunk, started flying an airplane and landed the plane on the streets of Manhattan.

His name was Thomas Fitzpatrick, and by day he was a steamfitter in New Jersey.

After hours, he liked to hang out with his friends at bars in Manhattan.

On September 29, 1956, he was at a bachelor party at a place in Washington Heights when another attendee bet Fitzpatrick that he couldn’t make it home to New Jersey and return to Manhattan in 15 minutes.

Fitzpatrick, processing this the way most people do after spending hours and hours drinking at a bar, took the bet.

He headed back across the state line, but instead of going home, he dropped by the Teterboro School of Aeronautics and helped himself to a plane.

Fitzpatrick had reportedly learned to fly while serving in the military.

While he said later that he had intended to land in a local field, he put the plane down on St. Nicholas Avenue in northern Manhattan near 191st Street, not far from the bar where he’d been drinking.

I even read a version of the story where he went back into the same bar and had a beer after landing the plane.

The police figured out pretty quickly what had happened, and while a judge set bail at $5,000 to discourage other would-be drunken pilots from landing on the city streets, Fitzpatrick ended up only paying a fine of $100.

The owner of the plane had refused to press charges, and Fitzpatrick had become a low-key folk hero for making pretty much a perfect landing in a very much less than perfect situation.

He did have his pilot’s license suspended for six months, but that was fine with him because he said he didn’t want to fly again.

Except that about two years later, he was out at a bar, and he mentioned the story to another patron, who suggested he was full of it and so he decided to prove that he had drunkenly landed a plane on an NYC street by doing the exact same thing all over again.

This time the plane he borrowed from the aeronautics school landed near Yeshiva University, on Amsterdam and 187th Street. And this time, he ended up with a six-month jail sentence, for bringing a stolen item into New York City.

Fitzpatrick’s take on the whole debacle: “It’s the lousy drink.”

So that bar patron who didn’t believe Thomas Fitzpatrick’s story about landing the plane in Manhattan?

Imagine what he would have made of this story from 1927, about what’s been called the “most rigged” election of all time.

The presidential race in Liberia was limited to just 15,000 registered voters.

But somehow the winning candidate received over 240,000 votes.

Again He Pulls That Stunt Of Landing Plane on Street (Eugene Register-Guard via Google news archive) 

The 1927 Presidential Elections (Liberia Past and Present via Archive.org)

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Photo by Ahunt via Wikicommons