First In Flight Exhibit
Now in the Discovery Main Level Lobby Area
First In Flight commemorates Bridgeport CT’s Gustave Whitehead and his contribution to flight. Whitehead built and flew an airplane two years before the Wright Brothers.
2011 was the 110th anniversary of the flight of Gustave Whitehead on the Bridgeport-Fairfield town line on August 14, 1901. Included in the original anniversary exhibit were photos of Whitehead and his airplane “#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 Bridgeport teacher Andy Kosch’s successful project to build and fly a replica of Whitehead’s airplane.
Today, you will see the half-size model hanging in the Museum’s lobby of the airplane flown by Gustave Whitehead in Bridgeport, CT on August 14, 1901, more than two years before the Wright Brothers flew at Kitty Hawk. Based on newly uncovered photographic evidence, Paul Jackson, editor of internationally renowned publication Jane's All the World's Aircraft, has ruled that Whitehead--not the Wright brothers--deserves the honor of “first in flight”.
Gustav Weisskopf was born in Hochst am Main, Germany in 1874, and orphaned at age 13. He came to America in 1897, changing his name to Whitehead. His childhood fascination with birds and gliders led to his success with airplane #21. His airplane #22 is reported to have flown five miles.
The Discovery Museum Model was built and lent by Andrew Kosch, whose painstaking research enabled him also to build and fly a full-size (32ft/9.75m wing span) replica of the Whitehead airplane in 1986.
For more on Gustave Whitehead please explore these links:
Only in Bridgeport Wrighting a Wrong - Finally
NPR Historian Propels Connecticut to Claim 'First in Flight'
NBC Connecticut Was Connecticut First in Flight?