Fairfield celebrates anniversary of Whitehead Flight

First Selectman Mike Tetreau has proclaimed Monday, Aug. 14, 2017 as “Gustave Whitehead Day” in the Town of Fairfield. Tetreau has issued a proclamation to celebrate Aug. 14 as the 116th anniversary of Whitehead’s 1901 historic “First in Flight” in Fairfield which took place prior to the 1903 flight of the Wright Brothers in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

Aug. 12: “Fly In” program and virtual presentation at Fairfield Musuem:

  • On Saturday, Aug. 12, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., the Fairfield Musuem and History Center, 370 Beach Road, will celebrate the anniversary of Gustave Whitehead’s historic 1901 Flight in Fairfield. View a replica of Whitehead’s No. 21 “Flyer” and see aerial demonstrations of remote controlled aircraft and drones. The first 50 children will receive a balsa wood model flyer to assemble and fly.
  • At 1 p.m., Susan Brinchman, author of Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight (2015) will be making a virtual presentation entitled “Flight to the Future: Gustave Whitehead, August 14, 1901, Evidence and Legacy.” She will share strong, new evidence supporting his pre-Kitty Hawk flights and contributions to modern aviation.

The Fly In program and the Virtual Presentation are free. For information on the Museum’s current Whitehead exhibition, visit fairfieldhistory.org/exhibitions-2/current-exhibitions/.

Aug. 13: Full-size plane replica displayed on Sherman Green:

  • In keeping Whitehead’s legacy alive, Fairfield resident Andy Kosch will display a full-size replica of Gustave Whitehead’s Condor 21 airplane on Sherman Green for the public to view on Sunday, Aug. 13, from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Kosch, a member of the Town’s Gustave Whitehead First in Flight Advisory Committee and a member of Stratford’s Connecticut Air and Space Center’s Board of Directors, led a team to build and fly a replica of Gustave Whitehead’s airplane in 1986 proving the airworthiness of the design and refuting many Whitehead critics.

First Selectman Tetreau said, “Our Town continues to honor and celebrate one of our own, innovator and one-time resident, Gustave Whitehead. Whitehead’s historic flight is exciting and very meaningful to our community and puts Fairfield in the spotlight with the most important milestone in aviation history. I want to especially thank Mr. Kosch and our History Center for keeping Whitehead’s incredible legacy alive.”

The revelation of Whitehead, who had once lived in Fairfield, first came to light when aviation historian John Brown discovered a panoramic photograph from 1901 showing Whitehead’s inaugural flight. This history changing event resulted in the authoritative aviation publication, Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft, endorsing Whitehead as “first in flight” making Fairfield the location for the first motorized heavier than air flight. Whitehead literally drove his plane from Bridgeport to Fairfield to make his first flight which successfully landed in the area of what is now Jennings Beach.

The Connecticut state legislature officially recognized Whitehead predating the Wright Brothers’ flight when both the house and senate unanimously approved a bill that was signed into law by the Governor and took effect on June 26, 2013.

For more information on Whitehead, the public may contact the First Selectman’s Office at 203-256-3030 or the Fairfield Museum and History Center at 203-259-1598. In addition, the public can learn more about this historic first flight at gustave-whitehead.com and fairfieldhistory.org/library-collections/gustave-whitehead/.

 

Fairfield resident Andy Kosch shows First Selectman Mike Tetreau a small replica he made of the first plane ever to take flight.

Fairfield resident Andy Kosch shows First Selectman Mike Tetreau a small replica he made of the first plane ever to take flight.

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