Tuesday, March 06, 2018

The Wright Brothers had a really good publicist, but Gustave Whitehead didn't, though he powered an aircraft to fly 2 years earlier... with wheels.

on June 5 2013, the Connecticut Senate passed House Bill No. 6671, which states that “The Governor shall proclaim a date certain in each year as Powered Flight Day to honor the first powered flight by Gustave Whitehead and to commemorate the Connecticut aviation and aerospace industry.”

Gustave Whitehead, a German immigrant, successfully flew his plane, known as No. 21 or “The Condor,” early on the morning of August 14, 1901, achieving a flight of some 1.5 miles at a height of 150 feet in the skies over Bridgeport.

On December 17, 1903, in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright soared into history

But they didn't power into flight, they used a catapult. Dumont, in November 1906, powered off the ground, to flight, and landing. http://justacarguy.blogspot.com/2016/02/in-early-marvelous-days-of-heavier-than.html


Research showed that Whitehead’s 1901 airplane-a high-wing monoplane with an enclosed fuselage and two propellers up front-was closer to today’s lightplane configurations than any built by his contemporaries.

His U.S. aviation ‘firsts’ numbered more than 20. They included, to name but a few,
 aluminum in engines and propellers,
 wheels for takeoff and landing,
ground-adjustable propeller pitch,
individual control of propellers (to aid in directional control),
 folding wings for towing on roads (resulting in what was possibly the world’s first roadable airplane),
silk for wing covering,
and concrete for a runway.

He built more than 30 aircraft engines and sold them to customers as far west as California.

The craft had two engines-a ground engine and a flying engine. Both were fueled by the same calcium carbide (acetylene) generator. The ground engine was used for traveling on the plane’s four wheels to test sites and during the takeoff roll.

At liftoff, fuel to the ground engine was valved off, with all power then going to the main, or flight, engine. The engines were’steam type,’ except that Whitehead used the expansion forces of acetylene instead of the much heavier steam system he had used in Pittsburgh.

 O’Dwyer cited Whitehead’s use of wheels in 1901, rather than skids, as enhancing his ‘first in flight’ claim. The Wright Flyer of 1903, with its skids, relied on a catapult and rail system to achieve flying speed.

 An earlier student of Whitehead’s life and career was the late Stella Randolph of Garrett Park, Md., author of two books, Lost Flights of Gustave Whitehead (1937) and Before the Wrights Flew (1966). Despite details, documentation and photos of Whitehead’s airplanes, gliders and engines, the books were denounced by leading aeronautic agencies, including the Smithsonian Institution and the American Institute of Aeronautics. They described Randolph as ‘unqualified’ and her books as ‘unreliable.’


Whitehead apparently flew for 1.5 miles demonstrating slight turns at a height of 50 feet on Aug. 14, 1901, according to a recent conclusion by Jane's All the World's Aircraft, a renowned aviation publication based in the U.K.

Curiously, Jane's editor Paul Jackson claims the Smithsonian historians made a suspicious deal for the Wright's plane, which they bought for $1 in 1948. "They had to agree with Orville Wright that they would never say that anybody else had flown a powered, manned aircraft before they had done so," Jackson told NPR.


"The 1948 contract between the Smithsonian Institution and the estate of the Wright family that the debate caused to be revealed some years ago states:

"Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor its successors, nor any museum or other agency … or its successors shall publish or permit to be displayed a statement or label in connection with or in respect of any aircraft model or design of earlier date than the Wright Aeroplane of 1903, claiming in effect that such aircraft was capable of carrying a man under its own power in controlled flight"


Wright advocates like to say that by 1906, the Wright "Flyer" III had logged over 24 miles--in one flight.. But they have a dearth of witnesses. There were absolutely no official witnesses or reporters present. Their promoter Octave Chanute, who went out on a limb to vouch for them, never saw a successful flight until 1908 (when they were still using a catapult to get into the air). In fact, they had gathered up a group of friends and family to vouch for them that they flew before then, but friends and family didn't know what a genuine flight was. Until 1908, they never demonstrated their claimed success to the public, the press, or even to potential buyers.


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