State lawmakers passed a bill this week recognizing German immigrant Gustave Whitehead as the first to fly in rather than the celebrated Wright brothers in Kitty Hawk. It was one of just a few bills passed with bi-partisan support.
It’s been a contentious legislative session here in Connecticut. But lawmakers were able to agree on one thing: Gustave Whitehead was the first ever to fly a powered, controlled airplane in Bridgeport. They’ve decreed that when Connecticut celebrates its to-be-determined Powered Flight Day, they will recognize Whitehead and not Orville and Wilbur Wright.
“It was unanimous in the Senate…pretty amazing in the current political climate," says historian John Brown.
Brown recently discovered a tiny, blurry photograph of what he claims to be the first flight by Whitehead in 1901, two years before the Wright brothers. And some of the world’s most respected aviation historians agreed with him earlier this year. That created a firestorm of controversy.
“HAVE YOU EVER HEARD OF GUSTAVE WHITEHEAD?”
This is the voice of a television news correspondent in Ohio, which prides itself on being the birthplace of Orville and Wilbur Wright. Many people in Buckeye state are incensed over the Whitehead theory. So incensed that even this TV news anchor in Ohio sounds angry.
“File this under, ‘Give me a break.’ The Connecticut Senate just passed a bill claiming some clown in their state, Mr. Wrong, made the first powered flight," says the anchor.
The bill is awaiting Governor Dannel Malloy’s signature. And the proposed law doesn’t’ stop there…it establishes the ballroom polka as Connecticut’s state polka and a song called “Beautiful Connecticut Waltz” as the second state song.
[Music playing] “From Hartford to New Haven, I’ve kept on savin, all of my dances for you…”
Now that’s something all Connecticut politicians can get behind.