Controversy over who flew first airplane

MILFORD, Conn. (WTNH)-- A bill passed in the closing hours of the General Assembly last week is causing a major controversy in the world of aviation.

At the core of the controversy;  did the first airplane flight happen here in Connecticut or in North Carolina?

The flight of a replica of Gustave Whitehead's flying machine back in 1986 convinced many that the German immigrant actually left the ground in Fairfield back in 1901.
      
Platt Tech High School Science teacher Andy Kosch built and flew the replica and became a believer.

"The plane just leaped off the ground, it flew so easily and that really convinced me that Whitehead certainly could have flown," said Kosch.
      
If Whitehead did fly, his feat would have predated the Wright Brothers and their flight at North Carolina by two years.
      
And Kosch notes that research done by another Whitehead believer helps to prove it and a well known aviation publication has agreed. This lithograph depicting the flight appeared in a Bridgeport newspaper in 1901.  
      
The researcher says this blurry image is the photograph that was used to make the lithograph, proving Whitehead was first.
      
In the closing hours of the General Assembly Session last week the State Senate gave final approval to a bill recognizing Whitehead as making the first flight.

"As the word gets out to more and more people and they investigate and they look at the new information, I think that everybody's going to believe that Whitehead flew," said Kosch.
      
The Smithsonian, which has the Wright flyer on exhibit, denies Whitehead was first to fly.

Governor Malloy's office says no decision has been made on whether he will sign the bill. And a sign of the controversial nature of all this;  a spokesman at the New England Air Museum up in Windsor Locks says they don't want to get involved.

Copyright 2014 WTNH TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 

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Connecticut (change)

 
Connecticut has 169 cities and towns, which serve as the fundamental local political subdivision of the state. Connecticut is the 5th of the original thirteen United States.
 
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Governor: Dan Malloy
Lieutenant Governor: Nancy Wyman
Attorney General: George Jepsen
State Treasurer: Denise L. Nappier

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