Posts Tagged ‘gustave whitehead’

Photo: The Library of Congress
Gustave Whitehead and his daughter beside the contraption he called Plane No. 22.

Connecticut wants you to know that it is First in Flight. Not Ohio, not North Carolina. And not because of the Wright brothers. Nope, the state contends, Gustav Whitehead was first — on Aug. 14, 1901.

As Kristin Hussey writes in the NY Times, Connecticut legislators argue about many things, but there is one topic on which everyone is in agreement — where the first airplane was flown.

“In 2013,” writes Hussey, “a well-regarded aviation publication surprised historians by declaring that Mr. Whitehead, a Bridgeport resident, had flown two years before Orville and Wilbur Wright skimmed the dunes of Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina in 1903.

“ ‘Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied,’ read the headline in the publication, IHS Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft. ‘Whitehead has been shabbily treated by history,’ it said.

“Mr. Whitehead, a German immigrant, flew his own aircraft above Bridgeport and nearby Fairfield on Aug. 14, 1901, climbing 50 feet into the air and traveling more than a mile, according to the article, which was written by Paul Jackson, the editor of Jane’s. …

“Within months, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, had signed a measure changing the honorees of a state holiday called Powered Flight Day from the Wright brothers to Mr. Whitehead. Last spring, lawmakers passed a resolution that formally recognized Connecticut as first in flight.”

Needless to say, fans of the Wright brothers are not taking this lying down. Read about the controversy here.

Photo: Christopher Capozziello for The New York Times
Andy Kosch, a high school teacher from Connecticut, led a group that built a replica of Mr. Whitehead’s plane and flew it successfully. 

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