Then it was picked up across the pond, and there was instant pandemonium. Most of America's top newsrooms -- including The New York Times and Chicago Herald & Examiner -- took the article for a true story, telling their audiences that they could soon fly on their own power as long as they didn't mind looking like tools.
There are a few reasons they didn't get the joke, and not (just) because Americans are dumb. This was pre-internet, when you couldn't click on a link, look at the date, and realize you've been April Fooled. When the photo was disseminated by the International News Photo agency, it wasn't identified as a joke, and Americans didn't realize it was published on April Fool's Day. INP also confused details of the story which made clear it was a joke, like the pilot's name being a German pun and the fact that the device was reported to rely on the combustion of carbon dioxide, which isn't very combustible. Although those details wouldn't have been very helpful if you didn't speak German or know chemistry anyway. Sorry, we're not nerds, Germany.
Related: 5 Easy Ways To Spot A B.S. News Story On The Internet
Ulysses S. Grant Stole Hearts After The Civil War With A Fake Photo
The Civil War was the bloodiest battle fought on U.S. soil, but America being America, some people's chief concern was "How can I get rich off this?" As such, photographers stormed the fields alongside soldiers, certain that the images they took could maybe buy them a modest condo one day.
One of those images is titled "General Grant At City Point." It shows the Union general posing proudly atop a horse, looking totally unfazed after one of the Civil War's fiercest battles, while POWs are dragged across a Union encampment. It's been hung in town halls and museums since 1902, making women swoon and giving men patriotic boners.
Library of CongressIt's a photo that's moistened so many petticoats it's a wonder it didn't come bundled with a "Caution: Wet Floor" sign.