Aviation Bible: Whitehead First to Fly

Aviation Bible: Whitehead First to Fly

The upcoming 100th anniversary edition of Jane’s All the World Aircraft will credit Connecticut’s Gustave Whitehead as the first man to build an operational heavier-than-air aircraft, a move that for many will shatter the widely held view that the Wright brothers were the first to fly.

Jane’s has been long considered the bible of just about every human-made object that got off the ground. News that the storied publication is backing Whitehead was received jubilantly by the small, but growing band of aviation buffs who for years have maintained that the Bridgeport, Conn., man and German immigrant beat the Wright brothers into the air by more than two years.

“Jane’s has solidified what we’ve known all along — Gustave Whitehead was the first to fly a powered, manned aircraft before the Wright Brothers, and he did it right here in Bridgeport,” said a beaming Mayor Bill Finch on Tuesday.

For the complete story by John Burgeson of the Connecticut Post, click here.

Updated: March 13, 2013 — 8:29 AM

1 Comment

  1. My father, William J. O’Dwyer, a Fairfield-born resident and guest editor at Flight Journal, was the premier historian, worldwide, for Gustave Whitehead, from 1963 until his death in 2009. He organized his Air Force Squadron in the early 1960’s to help look for Whitehead info and artifacts after he discovered some original photos, interviewed (taped and filmed) dozens of witnesses then still alive, obtained a headstone with a ceremony for Whitehead, who was buried in a pauper’s grave, obtained recognition in CT, Germany, Europe for GW as First to Fly, spearheaded the building and flight of the replica in 1986 inviting Andy Koch, a teacher my father knew from Trumbull High School, where my dad was plant manager, as a helper for the team he assembled. William J. O’Dwyer wrote the book about the Whitehead coverup – History By Contract, after uncovering the Smithsonian contract by getting Sen. Weikert to assist when Smithsonian wouldn’t release the contract. He saw to it that GW was represented at the air museum in Hartford area, the Ffld and Bpt historical societies, and founded the Whitehead Museum in Leutershausen, Germany, Whitehead’s birthplace. His research and writings on Whitehead spanned more than fifty years and is the foundation of today’s recognition. My dad continually sparred with the Smithsonian historians who would never (and can never) recognize Whitehead as first to fly or even that he did fly, as the contract forbids it – tTHEY WILL LOSE THE WRIGHT FLYER IF THEY DO. Same with any of their subsidiary museums.

    Very political. I am very pleased that Jane’s All the World Aircraft is providing Fairfield’s Gustave Whitehead with the recognition he deserves.

    It was pretty shocking to read the statement from Jane’s and the CT articles with no mention of the importance of William O’Dwyer’s research work, without which this recognition could not have occurred. I hope that can be corrected. History by Contract is out of print but available online through Amazon and other print media outlets. It fully chronicles the deceptions by Smithsonian, including all the letters back and forth that show the duplicity. I appreciate this recognition for Whitehead, which would have made Dad very happy. It would be appropriate to give credit for the original research by Fairfield’s William J. O’Dwyer, which this recognition is ultimately founded upon. History must be accurate.

    Susan O’Dwyer Brinchman
    La Mesa, CA

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