Discovery Museum Celebrates “First In Flight” on August 17

Is aviation history being rewritten? Now recognized by the internationally renowned publication Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft as the first to pilot a heavier-than-air aircraft two years before the Wright brothers, German immigrant Gustave Whitehead has captured the attention of Connecticut and the international aviation community as the debate of who was first in flight continues.

The Discovery Museum and Planetarium and the City of Bridgeport will host the celebration of the 112
th Anniversary of Gustave Whitehead’s historic flight on Saturday, August 17, and you’re invited to attend!

The free event runs from 10am to 5pm, with a special post-event hot air balloon ride opportunity for a limited number of guests from 5 to 7pm. Presentations by aviation historian John Brown, actor and Whitehead enthusiast John Ratzenberger, and pilot and builder of the replica Whitehead airplane Andy Kosch showcase this special day.

Weather permitting, the replica of Gustave Whitehead Flyer “No. 21” which Kosch successfully flew will be on display, with an interactive presentation. Build Right–Fly Right Hobbies of Wallingford will fly model planes and have demonstrations suitable for all ages throughout the day.

Planetarium shows, educational demonstrations for children, and a tethered flight of The Discovery Museum’s high altitude balloon are also slated for a full day of family fun. Guests are invited to explore the new First In Flight exhibit featuring period photographs, news articles, and personal accounts of Whitehead and his 1901 flight on the beaches of Bridgeport.

The Discovery Museum’s more than 100 hands-on, interactive exhibits will be open to the public.

State and local officials and dignitaries are expected to attend a special VIP Reception from 11am to 1pm for an additional session with Brown, Ratzenberger and Kosch.

Event sponsors include City of Bridgeport, Fairfield Museum and History Center, Re/Max Heritage, Volo Aviation, Pullman & Comley, and Connecticut Air and Space Center.

Free Admission
Presentations by Brown, Ratzenberger and Kosch
throughout the day
Educational Demonstrations & Hands-On Fun throughout the day, great for kids
Model Airplane Flights and Demos by Build Right–Fly Right Hobbies, all day
Replica of Gustave Whitehead Flyer “No. 21”
weather permitting, all day
VIP Session
11am -1pm
Food by Taco Loco 11am -3pm
High Altitude Balloon tethered flight, weather permitting, beginning 1pm
Planetarium Shows 1pm “The Little Star That Could” , 2pm “Dawn” , 3pm “Skies Tonight”
Re/Max Heritage Hot Air Balloon inflation, 4pm, with:
Tethered Hot Air Balloon Flight 5-7pm for a limited number of guests, $10 donation
Access to All Museum Exhibits and Galleries 10am-5pm

John Brown
John Brown is the aviation historian who revealed photographic proof of Gustave Whitehead’s inaugural flight in Bridgeport. While sifting through archives in the attic of a museum in Bavaria, Germany, Brown found a panoramic photograph from 1901 showing Whitehead flying his plane in Bridgeport. As a direct result of this discovery, the authoritative aviation publication Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft has endorsed Whitehead as “first in flight.”

John Ratzenberger
John Ratzenberger is a Bridgeport native and is best known for playing mail carrier Cliff Clavin on the sitcom “Cheers.” He produced and hosted Made in America, a program for the Travel Channel, which paved the way for a new series of shows celebrating the work ethic that made the United States into an industrial powerhouse. He also co-authored We’ve Got it Made in America: A Common Man’s Salute to an Uncommon Country.

Andy Kosch
Andy Kosch led a team that built and flew a replica of Gustave Whitehead’s “No. 21” airplane in 1986, proving the airworthiness of the design and refuting many Whitehead critics. Through extensive documentary research and examination of all known photographs of the Whitehead aircraft, Kosch’s team built the most exact replica possible. Kosch, an ultralight pilot, biology teacher, and Whitehead historian, has worked tirelessly in
Connecticut and internationally to keep Whitehead’s achievements from being forgotten.