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CT Declares Bridgeport Man Beat Wright Brothers

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The Connecticut legislature passed a bill last week recognizing Gustave Whitehead of Bridgeport as first in powered flight, getting off the ground in the Condor in 1901, two years before the Wright Brothers. The legislature declared a Powered Flight Day in House Bill 6671.

The debate has been around for years. In its 100th anniversary publication, Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft now credits Whitehead as “first in flight” in Bridgeport and Fairfield, two years before the Wright brothers flew in Kitty Hawk, N.C. The aviation authority was persuaded by a blurry, indistinct 1901 photo and contemporaneous accounts.

The Smithsonian Institution stands by the Wright Brothers, acknowledging that Whitehead did design proto-airplanes, but he “in all probability never left the ground.”

— Hartford Courant report

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1 Comment

  • HistoryB

    I hope that Governor Malloy signs this legislation into law ASAP, as CT is the place where the first powered flight took place. Tourists will want to see the sites and go to museums with this information, in CT and beyond. I invite those who are informed on and interested in this topic to go to Gustave Whitehead on Wikipedia, where the content is under seige from Wright enthusiasts, see the Talk page for that article. It is time for accuracy regarding Whitehead, which means that the flights he achieved on Aug. 14, 1901 should be acknowledged. There is more concrete evidence for these than for the later flights of others. The Smithsonian Contract with the Wright heirs, signed in 1948, that does not allow recognition of anyone else who may have flown first, must be nullified. Bravo to Kay Williams (who paid for the replica), Andy Kosch and the team that constructed the replica, William J. O'Dwyer (CT Whitehead researcher for 45 years, now deceased), and John Brown (current Whitehead researcher) for their invaluable contributions to historical recognition of Whitehead's accomplishments.

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