Conn. bill claims Wright brothers weren't the first to fly

U.S. -

Connecticut lawmakers passed a bill stating that a German-born state resident staged the first successful human flight, before the Wright brothers.

Circa News

Connecticut lawmakers passed a bill on June 10 claiming that a Bridgeport resident was the first person to achieve flight at the turn of the 20th century, "rather than the Wright brothers." The bill would create a holiday called "Powered Flight Day." Gov. Dannel Malloy said he will review the bill.

"We want to correct something that should have been corrected long ago. All we're trying to do is correct history. There's nothing in it for us." Larry Miller, Connecticut assemblyman

Connecticut claims that German-born aviator Gustave Whitehead took flight in August of 1901, more than two years before the 1903 flight in Kitty Hawk, NC, of the famed Wright Brothers, widely known as the grandfathers of aviation.

"Two years, four months, and three days before the Wright brothers, somebody else flew first… It's really a radical revision of the history of aviation." John Brown, aviation historian

Brown says he has photographic evidence — albeit very blurry — showing Gustave flying the first motorized aircraft in Connecticut in 1901.

"Gimme a break… I have not seen anything that convinced me that Whitehead got off the ground in a powered machine at all." Tom Crouch, Smithsonian Air and Space Museum aeronautics curator

Crouch has written four books on the Wright brothers and has studied Gustave Whitehead. Other experts are also skeptical that Whitehead flew first.

"…the Smithsonian… shall [not] publish or permit to be displayed a statement or label… 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." Contract between Smithsonian and estate of Orville Wright

The text of a 1948 contract between the Smithsonian and the estate of Orville Wright states that the museum may not display any other airplane as the first in flight, by penalty of losing the Wright plane.

The Wright brothers' historic 59-second flight took place on Dec. 17, 1903, in North Carolina. CC BY-ND WikiCommons

The Wright brothers' historic 59-second flight took place on Dec. 17, 1903, in North Carolina.

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