Connecticut Honors Whitehead's 'First Flight'
The State of Connecticut has stepped into the simmering controversy over who was actually the first to take a controlled, powered flight by honoring a native son who some believe beat the Wright brothers by two years. Gustave Whitehead will be honored by state officials in Bridgeport Aug. 14 on the 116th anniversary of what some believe was a half-mile flight at 50 feet in nearby Fairfield. The honor is likely to reignite the debate over Whitehead’s alleged flight, which had a lot of witnesses but no photographic proof, only an artist’s rendering in a local newspaper.
The governments of North Carolina and Ohio are also likely to have something to say about the Bridgeport ceremony. Both consider themselves the crucible of aviation, North Carolina because of the Kitty Hawk flight, Ohio because it’s where the Wrights did all the construction and development work. In 2013 Paul Jackson, the editor of Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft, wrote a column supporting the notion that Whitehead beat the Wrights but the publication itself has distanced itself from that opinion.