A century-long battle between North Carolina and Ohio about which state was “First in Flight” has finally come to an end as the two states work together to counter claims made by a new competitor — Connecticut.
Most historians agree that the Wright brothers took the first controlled, powered flight on the beaches of Kitty Hawk in 1903. But in June, the Connecticut General Assembly passed a bill denouncing the Wright brothers’ achievements and gave credit to Gustave Whitehead. Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy then signed the bill into law.
Whitehead was a German immigrant residing in Bridgeport, Conn., at the time of his alleged flight in 1901.
But according to a statement given by Tom Crouch, senior curator of aeronautics at the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, Connecticut’s evidence is far from convincing.
One major source of evidence is Richard Howell’s eyewitness account printed in Bridgeport’s Sunday Herald, four days after Whitehead’s alleged flight took place. It mentions two other witnesses, Andrew Cellic and James Dickie.