Friday 14 August 2009

Those Magnificent Men...

It may be that on this day in 1901, in Fairfield, Connecticut, the first powered flight was accomplished - two years before the Wright brothers managed it. The man who took to the air (or not) on that day was one Gustave Whitehead (born Gustav Weisskopf), a Bavarian immigrant, and he seems to have covered a distance of nearly half a mile (much more than the Wright brothers), at an impressive height of nearly 50ft. What intrigues me still more is the account of a flight made even earlier, in Pittsburgh in 1899, in a steam-powered monoplane, with a friend stoking the boiler. This ended when the plane crashed into a building, leaving Whitehead's unfortunate chum seriously scalded and scarred for life. Steam-powered aviation - now there's a thought... Anyway, the whole question of who flew first remains riddled with controversy - you can read all about the Whitehead claims, in exhaustive detail, here.


  1. Not to mention nutty old Leonardo and his balsawood contraption, wonder if it ever took off. Know someone called Weisskopf, funnily enough she's responsible for that odd orange colour some Ford's are painted in, nicknamed orangefarbenkopf.

  2. He built an aeroplane to carry two men and a steam engine? The other one's got bells on.