First in Flight? Connecticut Stakes a Claim

New York Times, By Kristen Hussey, April 17

Bridgeport, CT — Connecticut lawmakers are wrestling with difficult issues — a budget deficit, assisted suicide, judicial reform.

But this legislative session, and for the previous two, one topic has enjoyed bipartisan support: Gustave Whitehead.

In 2013, a well-regarded aviation publication surprised historians by declaring that Mr. Whitehead, a Bridgeport resident, had flown two years before Orville and Wilbur Wright skimmed the dunes of Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina in 1903.

“Justice Delayed Is Justice Denied,” read the headline in the publication, IHS Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft. “Whitehead has been shabbily treated by history,” it said.

Mr. Whitehead, a German immigrant, flew his own aircraft above Bridgeport and nearby Fairfield on Aug. 14, 1901, climbing 50 feet into the air and traveling more than a mile, according to the article, which was written by Paul Jackson, the editor of Jane’s.

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