THE WRIGHT BROTHERS VS. GUSTAVE WHITEHEAD: WHO ACTUALLY MADE THE FIRST FLIGHT?

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Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight, by Susan O’Dwyer Brinchman (Apex Educational Media, La Mesa, CA, 2015, 432 pages).

Book Review by Dennis Moore

July 23, 2015 (San Diego’s East County) - I was absolutely astounded and flabbergasted after reading Susan Brinchman’s Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight, for all my life and throughout elementary school and into college I had been taught that the Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were the pioneers of modern aviation. In this fascinating and well documented and researched book, Brinchman states: “Paul Jackson, Editor-in-Chief of the century-old Jane’s All the World Aircraft (2013), often referred to as ‘the bible of aviation history’, announced in its Centennial Issue, in March, 2013, that Whitehead was ‘first to fly’, ahead of the Wrights, and was the inventor of the airplane, based on the mountainous evidence accumulated over the previous eight decades.”

This La Mesa, California resident, Brinchman, is uniquely suited to present documentation concerning Gustave Whitehead. She has been intimately involved with Whitehead research for the past five decades; interacted with many of the previous researchers, was present for some interviews with witnesses, and as a native of Fairfield, CT, where these first flights occurred, is familiar with the places Whitehead lived and flew.

The author presents stunning new discoveries, solidifying the case for recognition of Gustave Whitehead as the “True Inventor of the Airplane” and “First in Powered Flight.” Ironically, it comes at a time when a book by David McCullough, The Wright Brothers (Simon & Shuster), is #1 on the New York Times Bestseller’s list. It really makes you wonder if The Wright Brothers were #1 on the New York Times Bestseller’s List, with the revelations and documentation by Brinchman in Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight, what does it say for this book? 

The author frames her very compelling book and story as the “Hidden History of Gustave Whitehead & the Wrights”, and reveals in this book little known facts about the first flights of Whitehead and the Wright brothers that will change perceptions about early aviation history, forever. She speaks of conspiracy theories. When I say initially that I was absolutely astounded and flabbergasted after reading Brinchman’s book, the details and research she provides in this book will convince others as well. She categorically states, and with conviction: “Connecticut aviation pioneer Gustave Whitehead invented and flew powered aeroplanes in 1901, over two years before the Wright brothers’ flights at Kitty Hawk.

Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight, is bound to raise a lot of controversy, but Brinchman provides in this book documentation and unimpeachable evidence and eyewitness accounts to counter that. This is a stunning book, that shakes my very core. It reads like a mystery novel, or spy and espionage story by Robert Ludlum. Everything that I had been taught as a child in grammar school and throughout college about the history of aviation and the Wright brothers, has now been turned upon its head. Brinchman has convinced me! There are conspiracies and coverups that one would not expect from something as historic as the evolution of flight.

Brinchman, actually has a vested interest in this book and story, as her father, Major William J. O’Dwyer discovered in 1963 photographs of a Whitehead aeroplane taken on the grounds of the Brooklawn Country Club Fairway, on the border of Fairfield and Bridgeport, Connecticut. For over half a century Brinchman continued the quest of her father, to place Gustave Whitehead in his rightful place, that of First in Flight, before the Wright brothers. It is clear from the history books that Orville and Wilbur Wright made that famous flight at Kitty Hawk, but the author would have you to believe by countless eyewitness accounts and sworn affidavits that Gustave Whitehead made the first flight two years earlier, in 1901.

Proof of the flights by Gustave Whitehead was abundant, even in the 1960’s. Resistance to the information by the Smithsonian was strong and hard to fathom – that is, until “the Contract” with Orville Wright’s heirs was unearthed by Maj. O’Dwyer in 1976, with the assistance of Senator Lowell Weicker, Jr. (later, Governor), of CT, published in “History by Contract” (O’Dwyer and Randolph, 1978). The “Smithsonian-Wright Agreement of 1948”, between the Wright executors and the United States of America, stipulated that the Smithsonian Institution would purchase the original Wright Flyer for $1 and other considerations, but neither the venerable Smithsonian Institution or its near-200 affiliated museums and research facilities could recognize any other airplane or person as “first in flight”, or the Wright Flyer would revert to the heirs. This “Contract” as it came to be called, finally explained the extreme reactions that had been seen to documentation of Whitehead’s successful flights by Smithsonian officials and their agents. This agreement is still in place, legally, today, so says Brinchman. Not until 2014, during the research conducted for this book, however, did it become known that those who crafted the required labels for the Wright Flyer crediting Orville were the same friends of Orville Wright who had worked together for nine years to disparage Whitehead as “first in flight”. We have, unfortunately, received an incomplete and some think, misleading history of first flight and early aviation, so says Brinchman. Thus, the conspiracy theory!

This book is replete with photographs and diagrams documenting the construction and flight of Whitehead’s “first in flight” aerial device, as well as affidavits and numerous eyewitness accounts crediting Gustave Whitehead with being the “first in flight” two years before the Wright brothers. In a telephone interview with the author, she indicated to me that her prime motivation for writing this book was to correct history. Perhaps this comes from her lifetime of being an educator.

Perhaps most revealing in this book is how Gustave Whitehead himself describes that first flight in 1901, as he states: “I never felt such a strange sensation as when the machine first left the ground and started on her flight. I heard nothing but the rumbling of the engine and the flapping of the big wings. I don’t think I saw anything during the first two minutes of the flight, for I was so excited with the sensations I experienced. When the ship had reached a height of about forty or fifty feet I began to wonder how much higher it would go. But just about that time I observed that she was sailing along easily and not raising any higher.”

This is a fascinating story, but more than that, it is an attempt to correct history. This true history of the first years of powered flight is a must-read that leaves no doubt of Whitehead’s accomplishments, changing perceptions about early aviation history, forever. For a signed copy of the book from the author go to www.gustavewhiteheadbook.com.

"Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight" is available on Amazon in print and as an eBook here.

Dennis Moore is the Associate Editor of the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, as well as a freelance contributor to EURweb based out of Los Angeles. Mr. Moore can be contacted at contractsagency@gmail.com or you can follow him on Twitter at: @DennisMoore8.

   

Comments

False attacks on the Wrights, no proof about Whitehead

Not one bit of the Whitehead evidence is even remotely credible. His aircraft designs are completely ridiculous. His calcium carbide motor is absurd. The descriptions of his flights in news reports are self-defeating. Attack the Wrights all you want, Whitehead never made a single controlled fight. Whitehead was well known by aviation experts at the time. Not one considered him successful. He fleeced investors of funds far in excess of the personal funds the Wrights expended. He had every advantage and opportunity to succeed. The claims and predictions Whitehead made in the cited articles are all bunk. The fact is, he failed again and again from 1901 to 1916. None of Brinchman's excuses make the slightest bit of sense to anyone familiar with the early history of aviation.

Examples of the Wright Legend Defenders

Some of the opinion-based comments here show the reason why a book with full documentation showing the primary source materials supporting the flights of Gustave Whitehead and the steps involved with the creation of the false "first in flight" credit for the Wrights, was necessary. "Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight" answers all these opinion-based critiques with supported facts. As a longtime educator, I know this is necessary when studying anything. The sources of the naysayers, when you trace them back, go right back to the Wrights, who tried to control and profit from world aviation, destroying all contenders. I prove this in my book (which apparently these persons have either not read or will not admit they have seen the documentation within). It is very hard to admit they have been wrong; it is a shock to everyone that the history is wrong and historians we trusted have lied or been mistaken (to put it more kindly). The public deserves the (inconvenient?) truth and they get it, with "Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight".

Sources

The two main sources for my debunking of the Whitehead Myth are the Stella Randolph archive and Gustave Whitehead/Gustav Weisskopf, not "the Wrights,"as you say. Your book is not a "shock" to me, at all... it consists mostly of material repeated from previous publications or other well-known public sources. I also note that you are careful to not cite my Whiteheads/Weisskopf website as one of your "Resources" although I know you've visited my site as you argue against many of the original points I make on my site. A true scholar would cite all their sources and "Resources" - even those with which they disagree. You also fail to reveal the truth about the Elizabeth Koteles interview, perhaps hoping no one else knows the truth. This is, in my view, proof of one of the more obnoxious aspects of much of what has been written about the Whitehead Myth... namely, the unscholarly suppression of information. This is also the case with the William J. O'Dwyer archive at Fairfield, which is under an onerous restriction imposed by O'Dwyer effectively preventing access and research, and is in contradiction to an agreement he had with Stella Randolph. This need to control the flow of information about Whitehead/Weisskopf is indicative of how marginal and lacking the evidence is. The over 2,000 pages of Stella Randolph's archive and the old Connecticut Aviation Historical Association archive which I possess are replete with information which proves the Whitehead/Weisskopf story is a myth.

History According to the Wrights

NC Plot, I don't know where you are getting your information, but it is from someone who has a vested interest in preserving the distorted history that Orville Wright wrote. It was Orville Wright who said that Whitehead's flights were a hoax. And Orville Wright also attacked a lot of other great aviation pioneers, two of them San Diego area citizens have reason to be proud of. Genius John J Montgomery demonstrated lateral control in California in front of thousands before the Wrights ever got their patent. Orville Wright called him a hoax, too. Glenn H. Curtiss contributed enormously to the San Diego area and did far more for aviation in our country than the Wrights. San Diegans need to know that he was "the father of Naval Aviation" and developer of the North Island area. Orville Wright called him a "liar" and a "thief." Orville Wright said that Curtiss and Dr. Zahm committed fraud when they tested the Langley aerodrome in 1914 and essentially proved it was capable of flight. The "modifications" you speak of were the addition of 350 extra pounds of weight and drag in the form of pontoons so it could take off from water. The wing area and camber were reduced when they left off a complex piece similar to a leading edge "droop" to save money on the tests. You're a pilot, so you should know that didn't help the plane; it reduced the lift. Even though the original engine was disabled, the 1903 plane lifted off the water anyway. The list of people the Wrights called liars, thieves, frauds, and hoaxes is long indeed. This is just the tip of the iceberg. For an honest history, see truthinaviationhistory.blogspot.com and glennhcurtiss.blogspot.com.

More Questions

Cummings - Would you deny that you have a vested interest in discrediting the Wrights? I had also asked you previously to provide instances where the Wrights explicitly referred to Curtiss or anyone else a "liar", "thief" or "fraud". The Langley Aerodrome was totally incapable of flight in its original configuration. As previously stated, the Aerodrome failed in part because the guy posts were not properly aligned with the center of pressure. This was one of the many corrections made by Curtiss in his later tests with the machine, which also included altering the camber and chord, increasing the aspect ratio and rounding the leading edge to increase lift. Beyond this, the action itself was an underhanded attempt to bypass his legal obligation to pay royalties to the Wrights for using their inventions for his own profit.

Octave Chanute on the Wrights

Octave Chanute, a major aeronautical expert in response to inquiry on the Wrights wrote this: "I may say, however, that I have followed their work since 1900, have seen all their machines and witnessed a short flight of one quarter mile in 1904 with their power machine. The long flights of 1905 I did not see, being then in the East, but had abundant confirmation of their length (about 24 miles) from eye witnesses in Dayton. From somewhat intimate acquaintance I can say that in addition to their great mechanical abilities I have ever found the Wright Brothers trustworthy. They tell the exact truth and are conscientious, so that I credit fully any statement which they make."

FYI, Ms. Cummings

The wings and tail surfaces of the Aerodrome "A" were wrecked in 1903 and not sent to Hammondsport. The framework and engine and propulsion system were all Glenn Hammond Curtiss received. When the Curtiss folks built new wings for the machine, they altered the design substantially (Langley had a very complicated hollow rib design) and simplified the wing structure while making the wings substantially more robust and strengthened. In addition the surface area of the wings was changed from the 1903 design as was the aerofoil section - it was not the same as used in 1903. If that weren't enough, the central spars of the wings were stronger than they had been in 1903, and the wire bracing was improved. Additionally, the use of "hydroaeroplane floats" (the correct term, not "pontoons") and their attachment and support structure strengthened the entire machine at a critical spot of the framework. The additional weight of the floats was a tradeoff for making the structure substantially stronger. That was the state of the Aerodrome "A" when the end of May 1914 flight was made.

Great story here if you dig a bit deeper, Mr. Moore

Mr. Moore, I encourage you to do some research on the Whitehead first flight hoax. This story has its roots in the attempts by a small group of well connected East Coast insiders led by Albert Zahm to defeat the Wright patent and deprive two of humankind’s greatest inventors, who with their own money, intelligence and hard work, solved the age old quest for flight. Zahm led the defense against the Wright Company and was completely humiliated by the incredible testimony of Wilbur Wright. He then undertook a series of underhanded efforts to get around the patent. His Washington connections allowed him to remove the Langley Aerodrome from the Smithsonian, highly modify it, make a very short series of hops with it and falsely claim it was the first airplane capable of flight. Later he held a position at the Library of Congress where he continued his assaults on the Wright brothers and the historical record. That effort lives on today by its descendants, such as Ms. Brinchman, whose shameful efforts to rewrite history continue to this day. The reason there is a “Smithsonian-Wright Agreement” is because of this effort. Jane’s issued a clarification and backed off the claim by his editor Paul Jackson and Ms. Brinchman has failed to tell the truth about that. Anyone with even a modest knowledge of aerodynamics or engineering can tell at a glance that the aircraft of Gustave Whitehead are completely incapable of flight. They don’t even come close. Whitehead’s efforts were well known by aviation experts in the time of the Wright patent trials and even Zahm knew better than to claim that Whitehead was first. Flight was the passion of Gustave Whitehead and he lived until the 1920’s. He never made these claims about a first flight. He lived through the period when anyone who could fly, much less had the ability to design and build aircraft that could fly, got immediate attention and great wealth. He tried and tried for years and never ever made a successful aircraft or made a single controlled flight. There is a great story here; just not the one you wrote about. Respectfully, your readers deserve a second look.

Falsehoods and the Wright claims

In the History of the World: Part I, Mel Brooks says: "And of course, with the birth of the artist came the inevitable afterbirth... the critic." So it just happens that wherever Gustave Whitehead's name comes up, the dogged Carrol Gray appears like the inevitable afterbirth that should have been discarded long ago as unreasonably biased, old, and discredited. For example, Jane's never disowned Whitehead or their editor, they simply stated that the research and opinion in their book was their editor's. Isn't that always the case? Publishers don't do their own writing or research. All of Gray's arguments are like this--leftovers that should have been cleaned out before they started to smell. The afterbirth is not the baby. Gray says here, and I quote: "I support that Wilbur and Orville made the first powered, controlled, sustained flight in a heavier-than-air human-carrying machine, only because the evidence supports that conclusion, beyond any reasonable doubt." What? Mr. Gray is clearly not a critical thinker. To prove it, I have pulled the lesson plans below from the "Smithsonian Education" website to show "the evidence" he speaks about. http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/educators/lesson_plans/wright/lesson.html "Background on the Virginian-Pilot story...Who,What, When, Where, Why... For this lesson, students get into five groups. Each group examines one primary source document, looking for answers to specific questions about the Wright brothers’ first flights. The students come together to compare answers, to discuss the reliability of the sources, and to reach conclusions about the best—or most likely—answers to the questions. They then compare their work to a secondary source, an article that appeared the next day, December 18, 1903, in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot. . . The primary source documents are a) Orville Wright’s diary entry for December 17, 1903, b) a telegram Orville sent to Bishop Milton Wright on the same day, c) a letter in which Bishop Wright reports the news to a journalist, d) an oral history of the first flights by the lifesaving man John T. Daniels, and e) the Wright brothers’ recollections of the flights, from a magazine article they wrote in 1908." Note that all of the primary source materials except one are by the Wrights. This is what Gray calls "the evidence." The one piece of primary source material that is not the Wrights' is the testimony by witness John Daniels. And behold! The Smithsonian leaves out the part of Daniels' statement where he says the Wrights took off from the hill. And that they returned the plane to the hill two more times that day. Why? Because that statement discredits the Wrights as first to fly. If the plane needed the gravity of the hill to launch, it wasn't a true powered, sustained flight. The Wrights were master craftsmen at weaving falsehoods and self serving tales. The were so good at it that they convinced gullible historians like Gray for years. Please see non-commercial site truthinaviationhistory.blogspot.com

Already Addressed

Cummings, this claptrap of yours has already been addressed. Again, the first flight photos clearly show the track on level ground. Daniels claimed credit for the photo, none of the witnesses ever claimed the photo was inaccurate, three witnesses pinpointed the location of the flight on level ground. Two witnesses stated that the flight went half a mile or more. You do not accept the photographic evidence or any of these witness accounts, but seem to believe wholeheartedly that the hill launch statement is the only one that is correct - despite having no supporting evidence whatsoever. You suggest that the Dec 17, 1903 photos were staged in 1908 or faked in a darkroom, but again, you have presented absolutely no supporting evidence and refuse to answer my related questions. Taking all of this into account, why should your arguments be taken seriously?

Charming...

Ms. Cummings, as always you never disappoint, you manage to outdo yourself in hyperbole and personal attacks each time you appear in a "Comments" section. I see you've tried to state my view of the accomplishments of Wilbur and Orville Wright, but, as many times before in other corners of the internet, you've managed to misstate and misconstrue my view... one might believe this is intentional, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume it is simply another error. My complete lack of gullibility is the very reason why I do not accept that Gustave Whitehead/Gustav Weisskopf flew in 1901, or 1902, or ever.

Thefacts are facts

Ms. Brinchman's book has facts from many independent eye witnesses and objective reporters with good credentials to confirm that Whitehead was first in powered flight. The Wrights only have their friends, family, and business partners to confirm their first flight. By today's journalistic standards it would be laughable to believe the Wrights were first to fly. Even if you don't accept every fact or every witness, there are just too many proofs to deny the truth that the Wrights were NOT first to fly -- it was Whitehead. It doesn't matter if Whitehead had poor English skills or said strange things. Hundreds of people saw him fly routinely 2 years before the Wright Brothers. Facts are facts and the Smithsonian should respect that reality.

Gustave Whitehead said men would fly, strangely

Chris, you bring up many good points! Gustave Whitehead was doubted (as were the Wrights) in his early years, by some, who believed that he was wrong about humans being able to fly as readily as people were then starting to travel by automobile. The documentation in my book shows Mr. Whitehead made statements about his powered flights which witnesses corroborated and the future of flight (then doubted by those who thought it was akin blasphemy against God, "who'd have given man wings if he wished him to fly"). He had help writing to the newspapers, from English speakers, as he'd been in America less than ten years at the time of these writings. There is a mountain of proof for Whitehead's powered flights, which did become routine, the community accepted, and made him famous. You are on the right track!

... And What of This & That ?

What of Gustave Whitehead/Gustav Weisskopf's flight from Bridgeport to New York in 1902, with six people aboard his new aeroplane which he offered for sale for $2,000 ? He never made the promised flight and never built the promised machine. What of his leap off the mountain top in the 1890's which he said resulted in a glide of 4-1/2 miles ? What of the fact that when the German replica of his No. 21 machine was first tested the test pilot reported the wings distorted and folded up "like an umbrella" requiring those testing the replica to strengthen the wing ribs and add more bracing wires, as well as relocate the bracing wires location ? Were these things all the result of some supposed lack of English skills (which no one commented on at the time - as I've said, only his accent was remarked on, not some lack of English proficiency)... the response to all this usually has been excuse-making with fabricated excuses at that. Are there any aspects of the Whitehead/Weisskopf claims that cause you any doubt, Ms. O'Dwyer-Brinchman ?

... and more

... and what of Gustave Whitehead/Gustav Weisskopf's claim of having captured and trained an Andean Condor with an 18 ft, wing span (about double the longest span ever noted), or his claim to have been shanghaied which his brother stated never happened, or his claim of a 7 mile flight over Long Island Sound in mid-winter in a machine which was never completed, if it was ever begun to be built, or his disproven claims of having worked with Otto Lilienthal and Hiram Maxim and Samuel P. Langley, or his proclaimed flights along the beach at Atlantic City which never happened, or his claim to not have any controls on his machine (except for shifting his body weight) used on his purported 14 August 1901 "flight" or his false claim to be a citizen of Brazil or his false statement that he was US citizen when he applied for a patent in 1905 and on his draft registration card dated September 12, 1918, when he was neither a citizen of Brazil or a citizen of the US... and so on...

Whitehead's Obituary... strange silence

Assuming Gustave Whitehead/Gustav Weisskopf flew in 1901 (and 1902), and - as Chris S. says "Hundreds of people saw him fly routinely 2 years before the Wright Brothers." - why does Gustave Whitehead/Gustav Weisskopf's obituary in 1927 make no mention of it ? Certainly, if hundreds had seen him fly that would have been included or the absence of it in his obituary would have been commented on someplace - but it was not. So, why that strange silence ?

There is nothing strange except your commments.

Your question is covered in Ms. Brinchman's book. At the time, no one cared about flight unless it was able to actually move people and property thus, it would not have been important for an obituary. Being first in flight was not viewed as important. What is important is that all the things you bring up are well researched and covered in Ms. Brinchman's book. I suggest to re-read it carefully so you don't continue to humiliate yourself further.

How odd...

Chris S., Gustave Whitehead/Gustav Weisskopf died on October 10, 1927... on May 20–21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh flew solo from Long Island to Paris, setting off a massive wave of aerial enthusiasm. Your statement that "At the time, no one cared about flight unless it was able to actually move people and property thus, it would not have been important for an obituary. Being first in flight was not viewed as important." reveals such a depth of misunderstanding that it is nearly beyond description. You are correct about one thing, though, Ms. O'Dwyer-Brinchman shares your misunderstanding. Making excuses and rationalizations for something such as any mention of flying missing from Gustave Whitehead/Gustav Weisskopf's obituary does not constitute evidence or any kind.

It certainly does matter...

It certainly does matter that Gustave Whitehead/Gustav Weisskopf said "strange things" and told falsehoods and stated falsehoods on government forms (which he did), because it goes to his credibility, and when any reasonable person looks at the totality of what he said and wrote (his English was never said to be inadequate, only his accent was remarked on), it presents a picture of someone who told tall tales, who enjoyed telling stories that were untrue or wildly embellished. You write "The Wrights only have their friends, family, and business partners to confirm their first flight." What does Gustave Whitehead/Gustav Weisskopf have to confirm his supposed first flight ?... one anonymous story (which was not even original but was a rewrite of an earlier NY SUN story) and which no one ever claimed as their reporting... and if this story was about such a true and important event, why did no one ever claim it as their reporting ?

GUSTAVE WHITEHEAD: FIRST IN FLIGHT

Mr. Gray, this incessant denigration of Gustave Whitehead on your part is bordering on the ridiculous, which makes one wonder what your vested interest is in this matter. Are you a relative of the Wright brothers, or are you employed by an agency such as the Smithsonian that does have a vested interest in propping up the legacy of the Wright brothers? Why don't you just allow history to speak for itself, and for readers to draw their own conclusions? It can get to a point where people will see your actions for exactly what they are.

Vested Interests, again

I've already responding to that accusation in another comment on this page. I have no financial or other "vested" interest in this matter, my only interest is in supporting historical truth and debunking historical myths. I am assuming you are the same person who wrote the review of Ms. O'Dwyer-Brinchman's book at the top of the page, and if so I think it's only fair to ask you if you have any vested interest or personal circumstance related to her and her book that would cause you to write such a fawning review... I see that you failed to let the reader "draw their own conclusions."

MESSAGE AND REPLY TO CARROLL F. GRAY

Mr. Gray, I feel compelled to reply to your comment regarding "vested interests" and my "fawning" review. First, I need to put all this in proper perspective.

I am the Associate Editor for the East County Magazine in San Diego and the book review editor for SDWriteway, an online newsletter for writers in San Diego that has partnered with the East County Magazine, as well as a freelance contributor to EURweb based out of Los Angeles, and having written more than 150 book reviews from all genres.

Two of my reviews subsequently resulted in the authors being awarded the NAACP Image Award in Literature, and another review contribuing towards the author having his book reach #1 on Barnes & Noble's Bestseller's list. I have also written for the San Diego Union-Tribune Newspaper, LifeAfter50 Magazine in Pasadena, the Baja Times Newspaper in Rosarito Beach, Mexico and the Baja News in Ensenada, Mexico. I am also an author of a book about Chicago politics.

I have no vested interest in this book or the author, and as a matter of fact, we have never met. I follow the facts as presented to me, by reading the book. It should not be considered "fawning" by starting off my review by stating that I was "absolutely astounded" and "flabbergasted" by the revelations and documentation presented by Susan Brinchman in her book. It was not up to me to research the facts of her story, I am a book reviewer, and that is why I attempt to convey to readers.

I did point out in my review the irony of David McCullough's "The Wright Brothers" being #1 on the New York Times Bestseller's List. Just today, the publisher of this book, Simon & Schuster, indicated to me that I will be receiving tomorrow that book for review in our East County Magazine. I plan to approach that review just as I have with Gustave Whitehead, with an open mind and no "fawning."

I have written a number of high profile reviews, just recently Senator Elizabeth Warren's "A Fighting Chance", which was #1 on New York Times Bestseller's List, and earlier Caitlin Rother's "Lost Girls", which was also #1 on the New York Times Bestseller's List. I am also working on a review of what may very well be a very controversial book, Peter Schweizer's "Clinton Cash: The Untold Story Of How And Why Foreign Governments And Businesses Helped Make Bill And Hillary Rich."

Mr. Gray, I say all this to say, I am much to busy to be "fawning" over an author, or to have a vested interest in anyone. This should be my last comment on this subject, and I trust it will also be your last comment, unless you have some "vested" interest or a hidden agenda. From what I have read of Susan Brinchman's book, and with the considerable documentation that she has provided, she presents a compelling story worthy of readers making up their own mind. This going back and forth with these comments by you, seems rather obsessive.

Comments

Mr. Moore, I am not questioning your credentials, but I am questioning the tone and flavor of your review and your condescending use of language - as in "... this Carroll F. Gray" - repeated at least twice - and I note your absence of comment on Ms. Cummings terming me "afterbirth" - I am also questioning your ability to decide matters such as the relevance of the material Ms. O'Dwyer-Brinchman book. You seem to have not been able to distinguish the wheat from the chaff, perhaps that is because you are not familiar with these matters of history, and if you aren't, why would you feel comfortable commenting on them and endorsing the content of her book in the way you did ? You wrote "This is a fascinating story, but more than that, it is an attempt to correct history. This true history of the first years of powered flight is a must-read that leaves no doubt of Whitehead’s accomplishments, changing perceptions about early aviation history, forever." Your statement that the purpose of Ms. O'Dwyer-Brinchman's book is "to correct history" and "This true history of the first years of powered flight..." can only mean you are agreeing that Whitehead/Weisskopf flew in 1901. That is not a review of her book, it is an endorsement of her position, a position which dozens of well-respected and knowledgeable aviation historians have repeatedly said is bunk. Commenting on other aspersions you cast in my direction - yes I have read and re-read her book, and 'No' I have no vested interest in this matter and I do not care whether any of my comments or other actions increase or decrease her book sales. Finally, why provide a "Comments" section if not to elicit comments ? I do not expect you to respond, since you said you would not, but I do expect you to read and consider what I've written.

Mr. Gray you obviously didn't read the book

Mr. Gray: All of your misleading erroneous comments are thoroughly explained and documented in Ms. Brinchman's book which you "claim" to have read. Whitehead didn't lie on government forms which is explained in the book. The well-known reporter only posted his name on sports stories but it is confirmed he was a witness and did write the story which was later picked up by other newspapers specifically because he was a respected reporter. In seeing your comments, I can only assume that you either didn't really read the book, you are not able to comprehend it, or you just cannot admit you made a mistake. Suck it up, be a man, and admit you got it wrong. By the way, I've seen the picture of you with Tom Crouch from the Smithsonian so I can only assume your are a shill.

Wool over your eyes...

Explanations and guesses and unsupported assertions are not evidence. I challenge you and I challenge anyone who supports the Whitehead claims to produce a statement by Richard Howell that he wrote the August 18, 1901, Sunday Bridgeport Herald article... not something someone else said or some speculation by others, but a statement by Richard Howell in which he claims that article was written by him. I've looked, and I am convinced there he never claimed that article as his own. So, when Ms. O'Dwyer-Brinchman or anyone else says he did, they are making an assertion unsupported by evidence. As for you seeing me in a photo with Tom Crouch, what a remarkable thing for you to find, a photo of people together... feel free to "assume" anything you care to about me or my work, it matters little to me.

Apples & Oranges

Whatever Orville Wright did or did not do in 1912 and subsequently, and whatever Wilbur and Orville Wright did or did not do in 1903, and whatever someone might think about them and their accomplishments, has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not Gustave Whitehead/Gustave Weisskopf flew in 1901 or ever flew at all. The issue is whether Whitehead/Weisskopf flew in 1901, and any subsequent events have no bearing on that central question. The "apples & oranges" argument which Whitehead/Weisskopf supporters continue to make, coupled with a refusal by Whitehead/Weisskopf to tackle the many fallacious, bizarre and ludicrous claims made by him, should give ample evidence of how weak and unsubstantiated the claims made by him were and are.

The Orville Wright Attack on Whitehead Still Used Today

I beg to differ with this line of thought. On the one hand, it is claimed that the Wrights were first to fly, pointing out the 1903 supposed (very short) successful flight by Orville with alleged control, that in reality was a failed flight, according to both brothers and their 1911 court expert, William Hammer. Orville's campaign to denigrate Whitehead are still used by Whitehead detractors, to this day. The Smithsonian-Wright contract was designed by those same people who helped Orville fight Whitehead. It is all relevant. The evidence for Whitehead's early flights AND the reasons his rightful recognition did not occur are both in my book because these are both pertinent, as you well know. But some would like the public not to know they've been duped by the government - this time, the Smithsonian. What else have they lied about?

Irrelevant

Again, the central question is did Gustave Whitehead/Gustav Weisskopf make a powered, controlled, sustained, flight aboard a heavier-than-air machine in 1901. All subsequent events have no impact whatsoever on whether or not he did so. Ms. O'Dwyer-Brinchman has two lines of argument going - she asserts 1) Gustave Whitehead/Gustav Weisskopf flew in 1901 (and 1902), and 2) the Wrights did not fly in 1903 and Orville Wright worked to deny Gustave Whitehead/Gustav Weisskopf the recognition due him. These two lines of argument are related, however whatever Wilbur and Orville Wright and their supporters did after Gustave Whitehead/Gustav Weisskopf supposedly flew has no impact whatsoever on whether or not Gustave Whitehead/Gustav Weisskopf actually flew. So, my request to the supporters of Gustave Whitehead/Gustav Weisskopf is that they stick to the central question - did Gustave Whitehead/Gustav Weisskopf fly in 1901 ?

First in Flight?

Like Dennis Moore, and all others, I learned that it was the Wright Brothers who were the first to fly in a powered aircraft. Now, I'm not sure what to believe. However, if this Gus Whitehead was actually the first, why do we not know about it? Humans flying would have been big news. I'm a little skeptical that someone would actually achieve it and not get the word out, especially after the Wright Brothers got so much attention. Why would Gus come forward then, and say, "Hey, I did it first. Watch me."

The Answer is simple Carole

Whitehead was a poor German immigrant with limited English skills while the Wrights were well financed and had worked in lawsuits repeatedly. Whitehead didn't understand the importance of being the first to fly or its patent potential. He was only concerned with being able to produce commercially viable aircraft. The Wright Brothers knew how to get the word out and get patents. Brinchman's work is an eye opener because it shows how Whitehead's flights were common knowledge at the time and the proof is well documented that Whitehead flew first. It is a shame that because he wasn't well connected and well-versed in the English language, he wasn't given his due credit.

Clarification

In 1901, an interviewer described Whitehead's English as "excellent". The Wrights were not well financed - they funded their experiments themselves with their bike shop and kept the related costs low. The Wrights' struggles to get the word out and protect their invention is well documented and their first patent application (which they created themselves) was rejected, prompting them to hire a professional. Whitehead was abandoned and sued by those financing him. He built two failed machines for investor Herman Linde at the same time supporters claim he flew seven miles over Long Island Sound, prompting Linde to challenge Whitehead in the press to prove that he could fly "even the smallest distance" with his machine. He built failed machines with investor Stanley Beach and also built a failed helicopter for Lee Burridge, who sued Whitehead for his money and won. On top of this, Whitehead never performed an announced, public flight and several of his "in flight" glider photos are known fakes. Whitehead also had a reputation as a delusional liar and made a number of claims that he never backed up - including that he would build six passenger flying machines and conduct a flight from CT to NYC. He even failed to provide photos of one of his machines to an editor when he said he would do so.

Whitehead was famous for his early flights in 1901-1904

Dear Carole,
You certainly ask a good question, answered with full documentation in my book. Gustave Whitehead became world-famous in 1901 for his successful early powered flights. This continued through at least 1904. Hundreds of newspapers covered his flight experiments during those years, around the world. The Wrights, during that time, were unknowns, not accepted as doing anything substantial. In 1908, when they were heading into their famed patent lawsuits, they unveiled the story of their first flights, and from then on, history became corrupted. Whitehead flew first, but was surpasssed by others later. They can have the credit for what they did later (Glenn Curtiss, the Wrights, and others), but Gustave Whitehead's documented flights must be recognized, ultimately, by the authorities. Right now, Smithsonian sold the credit to Orville Wright's heirs, so they could receive the Wright Flyer for $1 in 1948. That secret contract was pried out of the Smithsonian, which had denied its existence previously, in 1976, by my father, early aviation researcher, William J. O'Dwyer, with the help of his congressman. This is part of the reason you haven't heard of it. Had you lived in 1901, you would have. Good question! www.gustavewhiteheadbook.com

Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight facts threaten status quo

As many teachers (which I am) tell their students, use reliable sources. Anyone can make a website and claim anything they wish, and "blogging" is simply the expression of opinion, which many people increasingly love to do, using the Internet. What is most important, in studying history, is not the opinions of current day, self-proclaimed "experts", otherwise known as "hobby historians", but studying the original documentation - in this case, primary source materials from the Whitehead era. Much effort has occurred to keep this information from the public eye, by vested interests. But now it is available, causing angst amongst those who would maintain the status quo. All evidence available at this date, for crediting Gustave Whitehead as "first in powered flight", is examined in my book, as is the path to the Wrights' first flight credit, leading to an improper representation of history. We all deserve to hear the truth, which is why I took the time to document every fact in my book so the reader can see it. If we are to truly be a democracy, we must demand honesty of our institutions, such as the Smithsonian, which has fallen short, in this case. There has been a nasty campaign over the past century, started by the Wrights to obtain first flight credit necessary to expand their patents and control world aviation, which they worked hard at (and were hated for) worldwide. To overcome this, Orville, after Wilbur's death in 1912, devoted the rest of his life to creating the legend that he had been first in powered flight by using his fame and associates to destroy the claims of any contenders, especially Gustave Whitehead. To this day, this campaign by Orville, now continued by his so-called "disciples", with the help of an abhorrent signed contract to purchase first flight credit from the Smithsonian in return for giving them the Wright Flyer for $1, has robbed us of our right to an accurate history. The fight is about truth being revealed - or even examined! Those who fancy themselves as "early aviation experts" (most often, synonymous with Wright hero-worshipers) have taken it personally. Some are hired to denigrate Whitehead. The head curator of the Smithsonian, for instance (hand-picked, from Dayton, Ohio, the Wrights' hometown, writer of many books furthering the Wright legend) says that the Whitehead claim is "like a disease" that occurs every generation and needs to be stamped out. The Wikipedia article on Gustave Whitehead has been, for years, controlled by these sorts of individuals. A glance at the Talk pages behind that Wikipedia article makes it clear that those writing it are hellbent to keep Whitehead evidence out of the article. This is why Wikipedia cannot be considered a reliable source by reputable schools, because factions can take over and manipulate the information - the Gustave Whitehead article is a sad testimony to this. Greed, the desire for fame, and the resulting legal tricks of the Wrights have stolen the proper place in aviation history for Gustave Whitehead, Glenn Curtiss, and others. The culture of so-called "aviation historians" today does not lend itself to open-mindedness, quite the opposite. The same motivations are at work. My book will provide readers with food for thought, at the very least, and what will come of it, I hope, is improvement in our history books and the way our top history institutions function. This situation is reminiscent of 1633 when the Church condemned Galileo for telling the Vatican that the Earth was not the center of the universe. There was a great hue and cry and knashing of teeth. The venerable Vatican tried to keep the people from hearing what Galileo had to say by forcing him to recant, placing him under house arrest for 8 years, until his death. It took the Church, an institution that thought of itself as supreme - as does the Smithsonian, today - 350 years to admit they were wrong, and Galileo was correct. Today we do the same, human nature is no different - but it is accomplished by bullying and mobbing of so-called "experts", or even worse. We see this technique, currently, in the examination of different opinions in science and technology (especially with regards to safety issues) and we see the same in history. However, over time, the outcry of these frustrated representatives of the status quo will fade into nothingness, and the facts about first flight will now last the centuries, for "Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight" has fully documented why the credit for the first powered flights of mankind should rightly go to Gustave Whitehead. "Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight" is available at www.gustavewhiteheadbook.com and on Amazon. Buy it and see what you think!

Why Has This Not Been Corrected ?

Ms. O'Dwyer-Brinchman's Whitehead book is print-on-demand, which has the advantage of making any corrections and changes quick and easy to do. So, when she mentions that the Paul Jackson, editor of Jane's All The World's Aircraft, has the opinion that Whitehead flew in 1901, she pushes the notion that the aerospace industry's standard commercial reference, Jane's All The World's Aircraft, supports that also. It does not. Neither the owner and publisher of Jane's nor the publication itself support the opinion of their editor. This was made clear when the owner and publisher of Jane's issued a statement in April of this year, saying that the opinion of Paul Jackson was solely his, and not that of the owner and publisher nor of the publication. So, why hasn't Ms. O'Dwyer-Brinchman made that change in her book, since as noted it would be very easy to do. The answer appears clear to me, the rebuke of Paul Jackson's opinion by Jane's All The World's Aircraft does not support her opinion that Whitehead flew in 1901. I have a Huffington Post article posted on this topic, at : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carroll-f-gray/janes-points-finger-at-editor_b_7122070.html

Carroll F. Gray's insistence on denigrating documentation

It is very curious to me as to why this Carroll F. Gray is so insistent on denigrating the research and documentation in this book. It is as if he has some vested interest in the Wright brothers. It also makes me wonder if Gray has even read this book by Brinchman. Why not just let the book stand on its own merit? I kept an open mind when reading this book, and then writing the review. Why can't this Carroll F. Gray allow others to have an open mind while reading this book, and decide for themselves? Why this man would continually inject slights or denigration at the exhaustive material in this book, can only point at having a vested interest in shaping the thoughts and opinions of others. He may not realize it, but he is actually helping the sales of this book. 

Sales... & Vested Interests

I have no desire to suppress or encourage sales of Ms. O'Dwyer-Brinchman's Whitehead book, and as I've said, I believe anyone with an interest in the matter should read it. I have no power to prevent anyone from having from an open mind and reading her book and deciding for themselves... that, after all, is something totally out of my hands. Also, as I've stated, exhaustively, I have no "vested interest in the Wright brothers." I not only have read Ms. O'Dwyer-Brinchman's book, I purchased several copies. Perhaps you've missed the point that I am expressing my own view, my own opinion, my own conclusion about the Whitehead matter, after many years of research and reading and gathering information. It seems to me that the person who has the true vested interest (and no harm in having it) is Ms. O'Dwyer-Brinchman, who is selling her book (again, no harm in doing so) and salvaging her father's reputation as best as she can (and again, no harm in doing so).

As an editor I'm free to voice my own opinion, any editor is.

I fail to see how this is relevant.  Publishers routinely take pains to avoid taking sides on anything controversial, and it doesn't mean the editor's opinon is wrong or right. On our site we have a routine disclaimer on every reader's editorial stating it does not necesasrily reflect the views of our publication. So what?

While we welcome diverse views here we also don't want badgering of any local author.

For the record, can you please clarify whether you have any vested interest in protecting the Wrights' legacy, or with any organizations, museums, foundations etc. to that effect? It doesn't mean you're wrong of course, but we do like transparency when someone is attempting to push one side of debate as facts. 

We've had issues on the site before where someone on the payroll of, say, the wind or tobacco industry would become very aggressive in attempting to debunk arguments made by others, and we do want readers to know if either side has financial ties or is related to any of the people involved.

At any rate, all this controversy makes me want to read Susan's book even more!

 

 

The "So What" of this...

You ask "So what ?" - those supporting Whitehead's claims repeatedly mischaracterized the Paul Jackson editorial as meaning that the publication "Jane's All The World's Aircraft" had declared Whitehead as "First to Fly" - using the reputation of "Jane's..." to provide additional support to the Whitehead claims. The publication and the publisher did not support their editor's opinion, contrary to those assertions by Whitehead advocates. I point this out to clarify what the situation is, to correct the mischaracterization of Whitehead advocates. Of course everyone is fully entitled to their own opinion, but opinion is not fact, and one person's opinion, such as Paul Jackson's, is only that, and nothing more.

Financial Interests - Financial Ties

I have no financial interests or financial ties in the matter of whether or not Gustave Whitehead ever flew. I also have no financial interest or financial ties related to Wilbur and Orville Wright having been the first to fly a controlled, sustained, powered, heavier-than-air, human carrying machine. My aviation web sites are non-commercial, have no advertising revenue and I derive no compensation from them. To use your words in answer to your question, I also have no "vested interest in protecting the Wrights' legacy, or with any organizations, museums, foundations etc. to that effect." My sole interest is in the truth of these matters, and if there were significant and compelling evidence that Whitehead flew in 1901 I would say so. There isn't. Ms. O'Dwyer-Brinchman's book offer nothing new and compelling to me, of course, I have been interested in this subject for many years. Other people, new to the topic, will see much of what she has in her book as new, but it is not. The Whitehead Myth is built on a foundation of misconceptions, misunderstandings and falsehoods - that's my honest conclusion after many years of studying the material in depth with an open mind. I think people who are interested in Whitehead should read Ms. O'Dwyer-Brinchman's book, it is the best easily available resource for material related to Whitehead, but also, reader beware that her book has an agenda to pursue... nothing wrong about that, but people should understand her book is her opinion, not evidence of fact.

"opinions and unsupported theories"

Ms. O'Dwyer-Brinchman appears to believe that merely repeating something will eventually make it true. It will not, no matter how many reprinted and rewritten stories appeared in the press of the time. She seems to also believe that I am among those whom the Smithsonian has assembled - a 'line up of Whitehead detractors to attack 'the Whitehead claim'" - I am not. My sole interest in this matter is to correct the many falsehoods which have been spread about what "Gus" Whitehead actually did. I support that Wilbur and Orville made the first powered, controlled, sustained flight in a heavier-than-air human-carrying machine, only because the evidence supports that conclusion, beyond any reasonable doubt. By comparison, the "evidence" of those who support the Whitehead claims is thin and confused. It's an indication of how weak the claims for Whitehead are that Ms. O'Dwyer-Brinchman and others usually attack Wilbur and Orville Wright, rather than simply presenting what they see as evidence that Whitehead ever flew. I have written several Huffington Post articles on this subject, which can found by searching under my name, and have a website devoted to debunking the Whitehead Myth, which can be found at http://www.flyingmachines.org/gwinfo/index.html

This book is fully documented

Though there are those who cannot bear the idea that the Wrights didn't make the first powered flights, the evidence in my book is clear. Mr. Gray's many opinions and unsupported theories to the contrary are just that. Readers, decide for yourselves - for this is a contentious issue. The Smithsonian has assembled a lineup of Whitehead detractors to attack "the Whitehead claim" just as Orville Wright and friends did, in earlier years. What is troubling is that as a result, we have been cheated out of an accurate history, by those who profited along with the Wrights. History will be changed on this topic, without a doubt.

The Whitehead Myth

Ms. O'Dwyer-Brinchman's book is a useful compilation of the "evidence" for Gustave Whitehead making flights in 1901 and 1902. However, there is no compelling evidence that "Gus" Whitehead ever flew in a powered, controlled, heavier-than-air machine. I say that after spending many years researching the matter. The Aug. 18, 1901, story in the Sunday Bridgeport Herald, which is supposed to be evidence he flew on Aug. 14, 1901, was a rewrite of an earlier story in the NY SUN, not original reporting, and it was anonymously written, no one ever claimed that story as their own. "Gus" Whitehead made many outlandish claims, including having flown a glider off a mountain top in the 1890's for a distance of 4-1/2 miles, this at a time when the "Glider King" Otto Lilienthal was making flights of less than 1,200 feet. My review on the Huffington Post of Ms. O'Dwyer-Brinchman's book can be read here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carroll-f-gray/gustave-whiteheads-last-b_b_7634018.html

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