Connecticut Joins Fight Over Who Was First to Fly

Jun 11, 2013

Connecticut's legislature has jumped into an argument over who was the first aviator to fly.

Legislation waiting for a decision by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says Gustave Whitehead, a German immigrant who lived in Bridgeport, flew the first plane in 1901. That would be two years before the Wright brothers took off from Kitty Hawk, N.C.

Republican State Rep. Larry Miller of Stratford spearheaded the legislation. He says not crediting Whitehead has been a mistake that's now being corrected.

But the Smithsonian Institution, which displays Wilbur and Orville Wright's plane in Washington, said arguments on behalf of Whitehead are "absolutely wrong," and that the Wright Brothers' first flight was well documented.

Connecticut has a long history in aviation. Aircraft engines were made at Pratt and Whitney in East Hartford beginning in 1925 and famed helicopter maker Igor Sikorsky set up shop in Stratford in 1929.