Gustave Whitehead: First In Flight Exhibit
The Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight Exhibit celebrates the 112th anniversary of the flight of Gustave Whitehead on the Bridgeport-Fairfield town line on August 14, 1901. Included are photos of Whitehead and his airplane “Number 21,” newspaper articles covering the flight, the infamous contract between the Wright Brothers and the Smithsonian Institution promising the Wrights credit for flying first, and the story of local teacher and ultra-light pilot Andy Kosch’s successful project to build and fly a replica of Whitehead’s airplane.
Advocates of Whitehead’s role in history, including local researchers and history buffs Stella Randolph, William O’Dwyer, and Andy Kosch, have pursued the story since the 1930’s. The library of the Fairfield Museum and History Center contains copies of Randolph and O’Dwyer’s books – now out of print -- which present their research, as well as the William O’Dwyer Gustave Whitehead Research Collection, which contains photographs, newspaper articles, and correspondence about Whitehead’s flights.
Researcher John Brown, who was instrumental in bringing the Whitehead case before Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft, presented his evidence to packed lecture halls at Discovery Museum and Planetarium on August 17, 2013.
Gustav Weisskopf was born in Leutershausen, Germany in 1874, and orphaned at age 13. He came to America in 1893, changing his name to Whitehead. Settling in Connecticut, Whitehead’s experiments on motorized flying machines encompassed the local areas of Fairfield, Bridgeport, Stratford and Trumbull. His success with airplane “Number 21” is the focus of the First in Flight exhibit.
Whitehead’s airplane “Number 22” is reported to have flown five miles.
Visitors to the August 17 Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight event enjoyed a day of entertainment for all ages, including a dynamic lecture presentation, full dome planetarium shows, educational demonstrations for children, model airplane flights by Build Right/Fly Right Hobbies, and even Re/Max hot air balloon rides.
A half-size replica of Whitehead's “Number 21” plane is on display at The Discovery Museum and Planetarium.
Gustave Whitehead First in Flight event sponsors include:
For more on Gustave Whitehead please explore these links:
Shelton Herald: “An airtight case for Whitehead?”
60 Minutes Update: "Wright is Wrong?"
60 Minutes Rewind: “It's official: The Wright Bros weren't first”
CT Post: “Historian: Smithsonian aviation curator should resign”
NPR “Historian Propels Connecticut to Claim 'First in Flight'