Gustave Whitehead

Gustave Whitehead.

Gustave Whitehead.


All About the Recent News on Gustave Whitehead

Jane’s All About Airplanes’ 2013 announcement that Whitehead should be credited with having flown in 1901 puts an authoritative stamp on an achievement that up to now has lacked recognition by most aviation historians. Advocates of Whitehead’s role in history, especially Stella Randolph, William O’Dwyer, and Andy Kosch, have pursued the story over the years in order to win this kind of recognition. For more information, see recent coverage by NPR, CBS This Morning, the Connecticut Post and the in-depth website of researcher John Brown, including his explanation about the “missing photograph” from the 1901 flight.  The Smithsonian’s spring 2013 press release explains why it does not accept Whitehead’s claim and discusses the agreement it signed with the Orville Wright estate. Brown’s in-depth article summarizing his research, with citations, is available here.

Susan Brinchman has compiled a list of witnesses to Gustave Whitehead’s flights, which is available alphabetically or by date of flight.


Following Jane’s recognition, Governor Malloy of Connecticut signed into law on June 25th House Bill 6671, which includes among its provisions recognition of Gustave Whitehead as the first man to achieve successful powered flight. Per the text of the bill, in Connecticut “Powered Flight Day” will now be celebrated to honor Gustave Whitehead rather than the Wright Brothers. For more information, see coverage by The Economist.

Want to learn more? The Fairfield Museum’s library contains copies of the books by O’Dwyer and Randolph that present their research , which are now out of print, as well as the William O’Dwyer Gustave Whitehead Research Collection, which contains photographs, newspaper articles, and correspondence about Whitehead’s flights.

Watch a video of  a local television show including interviews with aviation historian John Brown and Paul Jackson of Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft, about Jane’s recognition of Whitehead: