Gustave Whitehead

We are presenting materials about Whitehead online as well as in the museum.

Whitehead Facts

Gustave Whitehead - Aviation Pioneer

Gustave Whitehead – Aviation Pioneer

1.Whitehead made the first successful powered, manned, controlled flight in the world, in an airplane and with engines he built, predating the Wright Brothers by 2 years, 4 months, and 3 days. There is evidence to support this. 

When: August 14, 1901. Location: Fairfield, CT. Distance: 1/2 mile (est.); Altitude: 50 feet (est.)

2. Numerous additional powered flights reported during 1901 – 1903 in Fairfield County, CT: Stratford, CT: Lordship Manor; Fairfield, CT: Fairfield Beach, Tunxis Hill; Bridgeport, CT: 241Pine Street and vicinity, Seaside Park; Easton, CT: Sport Hill; Milford, CT: Charles Island; Coastal Fairfield County and Long Island Sound

3. Longest reported powered flights: 2 miles, 7 miles – a circular flight over Long Island Sound made from Lordship Manor on January 17, 1902. Highest altitude reported: 200 feet.

4.Whitehead’s airplanes of 1901-1902 were a combination airplane-boat-car, used in the air, on water, and on land. He often drove to the test sites, as in a car.

5. 18 witnesses report powered flights. 12 specifically reported powered flights; 6 more report seeing street and over-water flights requiring power

State of Connecticut recognizes Whitehead as First in Powered Flight

On June 27, 2013 State of Connecticut’s Governor Malloy signed a bill recognizing Gustave Whitehead as “first in powered flight”.

 Gustave Whitehead Interview with Historian Harvey Lippincott, Founder and Director of CAHA. 

Historian John Browns paper on Why Gustave Whitehead was Recognized as First in flight

Historian John Browns paper on Why Gustave Whitehead was Recognized as First in flight

Jane’s All The World Aircraft, “Aviation Bible”, Recognizes Whiteheads First in Flight

On March 8, 2013, Jane’s All the World Aircraft recognized Gustave Whitehead as first in powered flight, in their 100th anniversary edition.

Whitehead Resources

Connecticut Air and Space Center Stratford, CT: replica and informational exhibit available

FAIRFIELD MUSEUM, Fairfield, CT archives of William J. O’Dwyer, Whitehead researcher and Whitehead exhibit of Fairfield Historical Society (check for availability)

GUSTAV WEISSKOPF MUSEUM Leutershausen, Germany

UNIVERSITY OF TX, Dallas, TX archives of Stella Randolph, Whitehead researcher


History.Net: Whitehead and the First Flight Controversy:

The ‘Who Flew First’ Debate:

Various Whitehead sites as they exist today

Check our some transcriptions from period newspapers

Boston Daily Globe August 23, 1901

AN AIRSHIP STORY – The Weimar Mercury, December 7, 1901



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