(Roughly) Daily

First in Flight?…


For years, Ohio and North Carolina have argued over the bragging rights to the Wright Brothers: Ohio on the grounds that the brothers developed and built their design in Dayton; North Carolina, because Kitty Hawk was the site of the Wright’s first powered flight.  Ohio’s license plates proclaim “Birthplace of Aviation” (more recently, “Birthplace of Aviation Pioneers”, to include not only the Wrights, but also astronauts John Glenn and Neil Armstrong, both Ohio natives); North Carolina’s, “First in Flight.” And the rivalry has even been drawn on quarters:

But it’s looking as though both states may need to re-tool their plates and dies…

Newly found evidence supports earlier claims that Gustave Whitehead (a German immigrant, born Gustav Weißkopf, “Whitehead” being the literal translation of “Weißkopf”) performed the first powered, controlled, heavier-than-air flight as early as August 14, 1901–  more than two years before the Wrights took off– and in Connecticut (near Fairfield).  There’a a detailed analysis of the evidence here… evidence sufficiently compelling to convince the venerable Janes.

The photo at the head of this post is a woodcut rendering of Whitehead’s first flight; this photo shows Whitehead and his crew with his monoplane outside his shop; daughter Rose sits on Whitehead’s lap, and the engine that powers the front landing-gear wheels is on the ground in front of the others.

Well, it’s not as though the Tar Heels don’t have more important things to worry about; ditto, the Buckeyes. And as for Connecticut, well, if they ever tire of “Constitution State,” there’s a new slogan at the ready.

… or there might be.  It turns out that there’s yet another claimant to the “first powered flight flight” title: the Brazilian Alberto Santos Dumont.

[TotH to Slashdot]


As we marvel at mechanical miracles, we might send lofty birthday greetings to Albert William Stevens; he was born on this date in 1886.  An career officer in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Stevens was a pioneering balloonist and aerial photographer who took the first photograph clearly showing the Earth’s curvature (1930) and the first photographs of the Moon’s shadow on the Earth during a solar eclipse (1932).  In 1935 Stevens and a colleague made a record balloon ascent near Rapid City, South Dakota.  20,000 watched– and millions listened to a live NBC broadcast– as their sealed gondola, Explorer II, climbed to 72,395 feet, nearly 14 miles, a record that stood until 1956.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 13, 2013 at 1:01 am

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