Ohio "Repudiates" Connecticut Over First-in-Flight Claims | Connecticut Public Radio

Ohio "Repudiates" Connecticut Over First-in-Flight Claims

May 12, 2015

Ohio legislation says Whitehead did not fly in a "powered, heavier than air machine" in 1901, "or on any other date."

The Ohio House approved a resolution repudiating Connecticut for claims that Bridgeport's Gustave Whitehead beat the Wright brothers as first in flight.

The bill asserts that Ohio-born brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright were first with their 1903 flight off Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. It goes further though, declaring that Whitehead did not fly in a "powered, heavier than air machine" in 1901, "or on any other date."

In 2013, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy signed legislation that proclaimed "Powered Flight Day" would honor Whitehead as the first in flight and not the Wright brothers.

Ohio Rep. Rick Perales said Ohio can't stand by while Connecticut "sees fit to change history" without evidence.

This new legislation echoes a recent statement made by author David McCullough. "Mr. Whitehead is never known to have flown anything and when he tried to demonstrate later on, it didn’t work at all in front of people," McCullough said on WNPR's Where We Live. His latest book The Wright Brothers was released last week.

Connecticut state Sen. Kevin Kelly of Stratford has argued that lawmakers shouldn't dismiss evidence that Connecticut's Gustave Whitehead flew first.

The Ohio legislation addresses the image in question (not the one in Sen. Kelly's tweet above):

A publicized digital image, purported to be an enhanced copy of a photograph that shows Gustave Whitehead's 1901 machine in flight, reveals only indistinct shapes. 

You can view the image and a photo analysis done by Whitehead supporters here.

Connecticut lawmakers still maintain their support of Whitehead. A bill was introduced this session declaring Whitehead's plane as the "state pioneering aircraft."

This report includes information from the Associated Press.