National Geographic reports on ‘first flight’ doubts

Gustave Whitehead with his flying machine.

Gustave Whitehead with his flying machine.

The National Geographic, in its website, is reporting on the controversy surrounding the iconic Wright Bothers Flyer that hangs in a place of honor in the National Air & Space Museum.

Back in March, the storied aviation publication Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft took the position that it was Bridgeport’s Gustave Whitehead, and not the Wright Brothers, who were first in the sky with a heavier-than-air flying machine in 1901. The Wrights flew in 1903.

In the on-line article, “Wright Brothers Flight Legacy Hits New Turbulence,” reporter Jarret Liotta discusses the work of aviation historian John Brown, whose research contributed to the Jane’s position on Whitehead. Liotta also reports on the testy back-and-forth between Brown and the Smithsonian’s Tom Crouch, the National Air and Space Museum’s Senior Curator of Aeronautics.

John Burgeson