Connecticut joins fight over first to fly

Connecticut legislators have passed a bill insisting that a Connecticut aviator flew two years before the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk, N.C. According to an Associated Press report, the measure is the latest twist in an effort to credit the first successful airplane flight to German-born aviator and Bridgeport resident Gustave Whitehead. The legislation is a flight of fancy, say Wright brothers partisans. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has not committed to signing the legislation, but will review it when it reaches his desk, a spokesman said.


  1. Jack Thompson says

    The Wright Brothers were eccentric, but they are an outstanding example of engineering method, brilliant observation and problem solving. They photo-documented their efforts and followed their early success with dogged development to achieve fame and recognition. Nobody else comes close. They did it without killing themselves, (they did come close) and they did it economically, using their own funds
    Their actions to enforce their patent cost them much prestige and many people tried to find prior art to break their patent. We are still seeing the confusion from that effort today.

  2. Dennis Reiley says

    Those commenters are correct in what they say, but I can’t help remembering that the Wright Flyer was fragile, basically unstable and no other aircraft manufacturer ever produced a similar aircraft in quantity. Whereas the Whitehead design resembles common aircraft design. I also have always thought the Smithsonian’s acceptance of the Wright brothers claims as suspicious. So I remain unconvinced by either claim until other evidence supports or denies the Whitehead claims.

  3. C Freeze says

    I simply remind those assembled here that there is no EVIDENCE of Whitehead’s flights (aside from several “yellow press journalism” accounts, and the “Bigfoot-style” photographic analysis), and the Connecticut legislature is extremely premature in this matter.
    Furthermore, you would think that a person who was the first to fly would have taken an active role in promoting their place in early aviation. But no – Whitehead never speaks of his alleged flights, never counters the Wrights’ claims, and doesn’t continue his alleged aeronautical work – instead working on lightweight engines (where he gains actual notoriety for himself in aviation’s early years).
    A couple of researchers trying to make a name for themselves have latched on to Whitehead, and are “cashing in” on their Warhol-inspired “15 minutes of fame.”
    Frankly, if one were looking for candidates to usurp the Wrights’ place in history, you could do a LOT better than Gustav Whitehead.
    Time will tell…

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