The Flight That Wasn’t?

In the end, the fabric of Whitehead’s case is left in tatters. If nothing else, Whitehead failed as a publicist, something at which the Wrights excelled. After all, Wilbur and Orville’s very first telegram announcing their successful first flight included just one command: “Inform press!”

The Flight That Wasn't?

Years after his purported history-making flight, Whitehead supporters pieced together a machine they believed duplicated the inventor’s, even though Whitehead left precious few instructions or printed plans. Later, one of these models, equipped with modern engines, actually flew.

Whitehead supporters haven’t let the issue rest. For years, they have pestered officials at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington to probe into the Whitehead case until evidence turns up to back their claim. Museum curators flatly refuse to open the case, and Whitehead’s case, to say nothing of his original airplane, has no chance of getting off the ground.

The Flight That Wasn't?

Plane Talk

The who-was-first battle і» considered far from over by Whitehead supporters. One of the most prominent forces arrayed behind Whitehead is a retired naturopathic physician and Connecticut state senator who pushed through a law forcing the Smithsonian Institution to hold hearings on the Whitehead claims. So far, the Smithsonian has refused, fueling charges among Whitehead zealots of a pro-Wright conspiracy and coverup in the halls of the national museum.


The Least You Need to Know

► The Wright brothers applied their mechanical brilliance to their passion— gliding.

V The Wrights combined painstaking research with engine know-how to make the first successful airplane.

>• Gustave Whitehead and his supporters contest the Wrights’ claim as the first to fly, but the best evidence remains in the Wrights’ favor.


Chapter 3

Barnstormers and Other Risk Takers

The Flight That Wasn't?

in This Chapter

V’ Early pilots who tempted fate ► The most daring men: barnstormers V Air mail takes its first dangerous steps

————– ‘^шшннаїншнпяїнннір

As with any technological revolution, aviation in its adolescence had its share of daredevils who probed its boundaries. Those death-defying pilots of the early Air Age not only discovered some unforgiving barriers— namely the ground or a building—but they also succeeded in bringing the new pursuit of flying to a curious public.

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