Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft has claimed that the Wright Brothers were not the first people to achieve powered flight.
In the forward to its 100th edition – published online at www.janes.com – the publication stated that there is strong evidence to suggest that Gustave Whitehead may have achieved powered flight two years before the Wright Brothers’ historic demonstration at Kitty Hawk.
In his article, Editor Paul Jackson said:
‘In the early hours of 14 August 1901, the Condor propelled itself along the darkened streets of Bridgeport, Connecticut, with Whitehead, his staff and an invited guest in attendance. In the still air of dawn, the Condor’s wings were unfolded and it took off from open land at Fairfield, 15 miles from the city, and performed two demonstration sorties. The second was estimated as having covered 1½ miles at a height of 50 feet, during which slight turns in both directions were demonstrated.’
He cites research conducted by Australian aviation historian John Brown, which is published on www.gustave-whitehead.com
However, Jackson does acknowledge that the Wright Brothers’ design was more suitable for the creation of military and commercial aircraft than Whitehead’s ‘bird-shaped wing structure’.
To summarise, Jackson said: ‘The Wrights were right; but Whitehead was ahead’.