Bridgeport’s Discovery Museum today marked what many believe is the 117th anniversary of Gustave Whitehead’s historic half a mile flight at an altitude of 50 feet on Aug. 14, 1901. In 2013, Connecticut passed a law recognizing Whitehead’s achievement as the first to fly a powered airplane and Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft Editor Paul Jackson declared that Gustave Whitehead flew two years prior to the Wright Brothers. And this past weekend, Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau issued a proclamation honoring Whitehead.
“The Discovery Museum doesn’t determine who flew first, but we are proud to tell the story of Gustave Whitehead’s aviation legacy and to display a half-scale model of his plane,” said Bill Finch, executive director of the Discovery Museum and former Bridgeport mayor and state senator. “Whitehead’s incredible accomplishments here in Bridgeport serve as reminders, especially to our young visitors, that they should dream big and discover.”
“As Bridgeport’s STEM education space, the Discovery Museum recognizes the timeless impact of Gustave Whitehead’s many historic ‘firsts,’” continued Finch. “It is critical that we continue to highlight the broad and profound importance of aviation here in Connecticut, both historically and in the present day.”
Finch added: “When children visit the Museum to learn through activities like building small helicopters to fly through a wind tunnel, they act as engineers, designers, and problem solvers. A spark of inspiration in a child’s life can lead them to join the proud local tradition of flight alongside aviation pioneers and generations of local workers who have built and designed the jet engines, helicopters and other technologies that make our modern life possible.”
For more information, visit discoverymuseum.org.