Whitehead Historical Record Corrections

These Gustave Whitehead historical record corrections are submitted in the interest of obtaining the best information possible, derived from the past 80+ years of research. I commend the truly selfless inquirers into the “lost history” of Gustave Whitehead, a very early aviation pioneer who achieved the first successful powered flight of mankind, ahead of the Wrights by two and a half years. We must seek truth in history, above all else. As the last living link to longtime Whitehead authorities and the body of their research, those who located and interviewed eyewitnesses to his flights and some of the documentation in local newspapers, for many decades, I have been closely involved with the Whitehead research since 1963. I participated in active research on this and related topics for the past three decades, culminating in writing the carefully documented, recently published, comprehensive book, Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight (2015). As such, I provide the following information, intended to assist the general public, academics, and researchers, current and future, in interpretation of what is being presented as current Gustave Whitehead research. In the past year, a number of inaccuracies have emerged in a recent publication and documentary concerning this topic, in addition to those found on a website which preceded them. These errors may derive from less informed, newly minted researchers unfamiliar with this complex history – but which can inadvertently confuse the historical record. For the sake of accuracy, these alleged mistakes are corrected herein. In addition, credit for sources not mentioned is provided, of essential academic importance to any credible research publication. This is not intended to detract from these offerings, but to enhance their accuracy and outreach. In the same manner as we would have wished the Wright brothers to credit others for their part in inventing the airplane, true professionals should take care to avoid use of previously published or personal research without permissions and credit given. In an academic setting plagiarism is defined as “the act of using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person : the act of plagiarizing something.” Crediting the work of others avoids the appearance of plagiarism in writing and other media, as well as during the development of technologies such as the airplane. It is a practice sorely needed in these instances.

Documentary: Who Flew First: Challenging the Wright Brothers (Artemis Films, 2016):

Appears not to name the exact archives where Brown obtains the Whitehead materials placed there by past researchers whose published information is used, but not credited in this film. The producer was in contact with me and verified use of my book, Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight, for her background knowledge, reading it “cover to cover”. Does not address limitations in use of the materials nor fully credit Maj. William J. O’Dwyer’s 45 years of research, from 1963-2008, or the three decades of Brinchman research, from which much of the documentary findings are drawn. Only Randolph’s 3 years of 1930’s research are mentioned.

Presents Whitehead’s Fairfield flight of Aug. 14, 1901 as occurring in the daytime, when it actually occurred just prior to dawn on that date. This is of vital importance in understanding whether there could have been a photo or not.

Book: Who Flew First? Gustave Whitehead and the Wright Brothers (Brown, 2016)

This book has many interesting parts, most of which are not in question. Published in both German and English, it does include an unfortunate number of historical inaccuracies and mistakes that should be corrected. The book, by Australian John Brown, was published in the fall of 2016, shortly after the release of an associated documentary produced by Artemis Films, widely viewed in Germany, Europe, and Australia.  Much of Brown’s book relies on primary research conducted by prior and present Whitehead researchers (O’Dwyer, Brinchman, & Randolph et al), as well as some new material allegedly unearthed by Brown with the help of a cadre of helpers. While some of the “new material” has been credited to this author (Brinchman) some of my three decades of research was unfortunately published in Mr. Brown’s book without permission and in many cases, without any recognition of Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight, where my key findings first appeared. In some cases, the interpretation of the complex facts concerning Gustave Whitehead’s life and accomplishments have been misconstrued, apparently due to misunderstandings. Perhaps the more important academic oversights such as credits might be addressed in a future edition, as might correction of the following historical facts. The following is provided to the best of my knowledge, as one close to the Whitehead research for the past fifty (plus) years.

Susan O’Dwyer Brinchman, M. Ed (Feb. 26, 2017) (Updated March 17, 2017)

(Note: Herein, abbreviation for Whitehead is given as GW; Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight to be referred to as GWFIF.)

p. 13
Describes Harold (S.) Miller as a lawyer on this and at least one other page. Actually Miller was a co-executor of the Estate of Orville Wright, married to Wright’s niece and heir, Ivonette. He was not a lawyer.
The research concerning Gardner and Findley is solely from GWFIF and this (my) website (http://gustavewhitehead.info/smithsonian-conspiracy-to-deny-whitehead-flew-first/). Brown misinterprets the information however, ascribing their involvement as being due to their knowledge of aeronautics. Actually, this is not the reason – they were close friends and hangers-on to Orville Wright, supporting his desire for “first-in-flight” credit and fighting the Whitehead claim to first flight for the past 9 years, together. Findley was editor of an aviation magazine, not an expert on aeronautics.
p. 37
Brown states Wilbur Wright “died of an infectious disease in 1912.” This is FALSE and unnecessarily demeans Wilbur Wright. He died of typhoid after eating tainted seafood, suffering for three weeks. This is supported by communications contained in the letters of Wilbur & Orville Wright (Library of Congress), and undoubtedly in other sources – this was the diagnosis at the time. His immune system was said to have been weakened by the stress of the lawsuits and was actually blamed on Glenn Curtiss by Orville Wright, subsequently. However, Curtiss did not initiate the suits, he was in a defensive position. Never-the-less, it is misleading to state Wilbur died of an “infectious disease”.
p.  42 (Updated March 17, 2017 by S. Brinchman)
Brown unnecessarily and mistakenly degrades Gustave Whitehead’s wife, Louisa, by stating that Rose was born seven and a half months after they were married (p. 42). On that same page, Brown states that Whitehead invited Louisa (as she was then known, a maid at his place of residence) to his room at his boarding house to view glider pictures, and postulates that though they spoke different languages they found a way to communicate. Later in the book, Brown describes how when “the hurling certainty of morning sickness set in, a wedding was arranged” with Gustave (p. 149).  Unnecessarily appears to fictionalize an early conception for Rose, though it can easily be proven not to have occurred at all. At the bottom of p. 149, Brown mistakenly and egregiously errs in stating Rose was born on July 21, 1898 (allegedly 7 months later), when, in fact, all credible records, readily obtainable, prove Rose was born 11 months after the marriage, on Oct. 21, 1898.
Rose Whitehead Rennison
born 21 Oct. 1898
(11 months after parents were married)
4 solid sources
1. US Social Security Death Index 1935-2014
(Repository: Ancestry.com)
2. Find A Grave Memorial
Rose Rennison
Buried at Vista Memorial Gardens, Miami Lakes, Florida, USA
Find A Grave Memorial# 166587307
Oct. 21, 1898
Oct. 22, 1969

Rose Whitehead Rennison’s Birthdate: Oct 21, 1898 – it is correct on her gravestone!

3. 1900 US Census
Rosie Whitehead
Birth Date: Oct 1898
Birthplace: New York
Father: Gustave Whitehead
Mother: Louise Whitehead
4. Gustave and Louise Whitehead were married on
24 November 1897
Source: Marriage Certificate

GW and Louisa married on Nov. 24, 1897, 11 months before Rose was born – NOT 7!

Clearly, Rose was not conceived prior to Gustave and Louise’s marriage. This sloppy research and unfortunate misinformation – which can be seen as maligning the reputation of and dishonors both parents – needs to be corrected, immediately, in Brown’s books – both in German and English.
Brown says Louisa moved to Buffalo with Gustave. In fact, she moved there and he followed, proposing marriage, which she ultimately accepted. These facts are important! Gustave and Louisa’s reputations are also important.
p. 43
My research discovered and GWFIF first published the photo of Whitehead’s home in Pittsburgh. No credit given.
Mistakenly states GW and a friend left for Bridgeport due to lack of work. It was actually said in all prior records to be from pressure from the police after his flight attempts caused difficulties.
p. 44
Credit is given to the Whitehead family for photographs throughout the book, though these first appeared in newspapers prior to 1921 (in public domain) and seem identical to those published in Randolph, O’Dwyer, and Brinchman books.
p. 45
Brown describes GW listing his citizenship status as Brazilian, claiming to be a farmer when registering for the draft. Brown says GW didn’t mention his machine-building skills.  Yet in an associated, known document, GW lists his employment as a machinist and that he has no other skills. GW did emigrate from Brazil, this was not a proven evasion for the authorities at that date.
p. 46
Louisa is described as throwing out GW’s machinery and papers and selling the family home after his death in 1927. In fact, the house remained in the family for decades. Louisa moved to Florida in 1949 (Source: Obituary, Louise Whitehead, Fort Lauderdale News, 26 June, 1954, p. 2). These events were twenty years apart but not mentioned.  Brown’s theory that she didn’t want anything around to remind her of the love she’d lost is not supported by any known data.  Louisa threw her husbands flight experiment-associated items in the town dump, this had been established, but without clear motive, save that she didn’t recognize their importance.
p. 48
Brown misrepresents past researcher work, which involved extensive interviews with witnesses and Whitehead contemporaries, as well as research into news and magazines for the first decade of the century. For instance, Major William J. O’Dwyer (WJOD) published articles in Flight Journal, concerning the Scientific American articles up through 1908.  Many contemporary news articles obtained by WJOD are at the Fairfield Museum in their collection are not mentioned, because, it seems, Brown has not obtained access therein.
p. 49
Brown states Whitehead was orphaned at age 14. Actually, he was 12. That is a serious error!
p. 53
Junius Harworth is described as having children. I am not aware that he had any.
p. 54
Brown refers to a formerly never-before mentioned 1893 article in Birmingham, Alabama about Whitehead, but does not formally reference or footnote it. This article is again mentioned but not referenced on p. 56! If it existed, where is the reference or a photo of it, so others might validate it!
p. 104
Brown states the wife of GW burned her husband’s records after his death, comparing this to what Lilienthal’s wife allegedly did. This is incorrect. Louisa Whitehead did not burn Whitehead’s records. She sent much of his work to the dump. This is a matter of the historical record, gathered by Stella Randolph, while Louisa was alive, in the 1930’s.
p. 116-117
Brown misidentifies a GW 1907 era glider as a 1900 monoplane. The aircraft is from a well known photo taken at his house on Tunxis Hill. Brown may be repeating an early Randolph error, later corrected.
p. 149
See p. 42, above
p. 204-205
Brown incorrectly states that Hungarian women donated their wedding dresses to provide silk for GW’s 1900-1901 No. 21. Actually, the historical record shows only one woman doing this – Elizabeth Koteles. There is no record of any other. He cites an article by Junius Harworth’s niece, Martha, http://www.magyarnews.org/news.php?viewStory=1256 as his source. But the article does not mention multiple women donating their wedding dresses!
p. 232
Brown says that the two pilots of the GW replicas accidentally rigged their steering systems in the same manner as did GW. This is incorrect. The replicas were built based on past extensive interviews with Anton Pruckner in the 1960’s, for this purpose, and an engineering study of the photos in the possession of William O’Dwyer.
p. 239
Garber made his drawing at the request of William O’Dwyer. This is from History by Contract (O’Dwyer & Randolph, 1978) as is the image used, which is NOT from the GW Research Committee but taken from that book, potentially breaking copyright.
p. 242
The photos of No. 21 (taken by Beach) were NOT taken on May 27, 1901.  The leaves were not even on the trees and warm clothing was worn. They were taken earlier in the spring of 1901. It is unknown why Brown uses this date for the photos.
p. 254-255
All published prior to Brown’s book, in GWFIF, without credit.
p. 261
(paragraph 2)
Brown indicates Orville’s flight was 2 feet off the ground, when, in fact, it was claimed to have reached 8 feet in elevation. The photo is approx. 2 feet, but that was at takeoff.
p. 262
The Hammer research was conducted by WJOD and I. Brown received it with a promise not to publish it without permission. Portions from GWFIF not credited.
p. 264
Misinformation concerning the 1907 glider. Brown mislabels it as a single-engine plane, and continues Randolph’s error in labeling it as built in 1900.
p. 267
Misinformation – says the photos of No. 21 were taken on May 27, 1901. See my observations (p. 242 above) for reasoning. O’Dwyer stated many times the photos were taken in early spring and why.
Note: this chapter appears to publish all the  witness testimonies WITHOUT permission of copyright heirs.
p. 279
Photos wrongly identified as being taken of repairs made “at water’s edge”, when in fact, these are of No. 22 at factory site near GW’s home (Cherry Street). Compounds earlier errors of some Whitehead researchers. Images first published together in GWFIF, one obtained from a separate source – uncredited.
p. 295
Anton Pruckner was not present for the Fairfield flight. He was not named in the article by Howell – Brown mistakenly reports him present. GWFIF addresses this seeming inconsistency.
p. 298
(paragraph 3) Note: On this, I do agree, plagiarism does abound. It has emerged in the current era, concerning Whitehead research and publications.
p. 303
Waldo did not testify that GW’d flown at Fairfield Beach in 1901, but only at Fairfield Beach (undated).
p. 310
(para 3)
GW was back by Oct. 1, when the new factory was created with funds from Linde, not mid-Nov.
Stating Linde was autistic is imaginary. Autistic children have problems with language – yet language was Linde’s strength.
Brown calls Mr. Miller “Mr. Muller” – that was not his name as used in America.
p. 313
Brown says after the Jan. 17th, 1902 flight, he was locked out of his shop. I don’t believe there is any evidence for it on that exact day.
p. 326
Photo appears in prior Whitehead books.
p. 331
The Wrights are mischaracterized as professional photographers, when, in fact, their newspapers were published during their high school years.
p. 335
(para 5) The lost photo of Whitehead’s first flight is referenced. There is no lost photo of the first flight. This is pure fabrication and Brown‘s well-debunked theory. Howell used to illustrate articles routinely, WJOD learned that by studying the Bridgeport Sunday Herald, whose original microfiche files were provided to him and studied in his (our) home in the 1960’s. Browntheorizes that the photo of Whitehead appearing in the article was taken after the dawn flight.  Then he uses this theory to “prove” that the journalist had a camera with him earlier that day (in the early AM). Purely baseless speculation.
p. 336- p. 339
 Unsupported theory alleging there was a photo taken.  The flight was made before dawn. No camera could have taken a photo of a rapidly moving object in flight, in the dark or very low light, in 1901. This has been established for at least fifty years.
p. 339
There was more than one flight in 1901 – a photo could have been taken of any of them but not the one made at night, before dawn!
p. 342-349
Brown includes a confusing and completely debunked theory of the lost photo he announced he’d found, in 2013. This continued allegation harms the historical record and helps cast doubt on the valid GW research.
p. 356
(para 1)
Brown reports brother John Whitehead leaving by late 1903 –  actually his leavetaking appears to have been in the fall of 1902, and he returned a year later, in fall, 1903.
Then Brown incorrectly reports Gustave Whitehead stopped building his own aeroplanes and experimenting. This is a lingering early Brown theory that is damaging and false. Whitehead never stopped experimenting through 1915. He paid the bills building engines and aircraft for others, but worked on building his own, at times, throughout this long period.
Brown mistakenly reports that Whitehead spent the next few years (till 1905) building a house for his wife and daughter, neglecting to mention his son, Charles (born 1900) and daughter Lillian (born 1905). GW did not spend several years building a home, as he didn’t even own the land till 1905. This seems designed to support the flawed Brown theory of why GW wasn’t allegedly successful later on, after the 1901 – 1903 successes. He ignores documented facts, stated in GWFIF. For instance, GW was experimenting in order to enter the World’s Fair of 1904, and in many interviews stated he’d never give up. His last effort was in 1915.
p. 385
Brown uses a photo taken by WJOD, without permission of copyright holders.
p. 388
(para 4) “Summary of Direct and Circumstantial Evidence”
Incorrectly states location of a long flight “at Fairfield Beach” on Aug. 14, 1901, witnessed by one trained engineer. This is FALSE. The flight occurred near Fairfield Beach, not at the beach (about 1/2 to 3/4 mile away) and not witnessed by a trained engineer (he must be referring to Pruckner or Harworth, both of whom were not documented as being there in the Howell account.) No second local newspaper in their next issue wrote up the account of the August 14th, 1901 flight(s). He must be referring to the writeup of a clearly different flight experiment at the trotting park in Bridgeport near GW’s home on Pine Street, though he appears to represent it as one and the same flight.
p. 412 – 413
Brown neglects to credit Maj. William J. O’Dwyer with unearthing the Smithsonian-Wright contract. No citation to History by Contract (O’Dwyer & Randolph, 1978) in which the contract is first published.
Brown further neglects to credit Brinchman and R. Link with a recent, key unearthing and discovery, identifying those working on the contract as being those who were friends of Orville’s and particularly, who worked to deny the GW claim, prior to Orville’s death.  Information directly taken from GWFIF, with no citation or credit.
p. 425
(para 1) Brown provides information about William Hammer’s perjury on the stand, while neglecting to cite GWFIF. States research “kindly provided” by me, in citation, as if some was not published in GWFIF. My research was used and published without permission.
p. 430
(para 2) Brown falsely reports that GW sold his “rental” on Ridgely Ave., when, in fact, he owned it, and that this occurred in 1912. In fact, GW built the house on Alvin St. (in Fairfield, CT) in June, 1914, having lost the house on Ridgely earlier that same year (1914).
p. 437
(para 3)
Brown incorrectly reports Randolph continued her research and published her second book in 1966. He does not mention that her research stopped in the 1930’s (after 3 years) and that the 1966 book was updated, based on WJOD’s research and the then-ongoing, formal inquiry into Whitehead’s flights by WJOD’s 9315th Air Force Reserve Squadron.
(para 4)
Brown mistakenly reports Whitehead was reburied in a large grave in 1968 when no such thing happened.  GW’s gravesite remained the same, he received a large, new headstone, having had only a pauper’s grave number prior to that ceremony. I was present at the ceremony, which is described in GWFIF.
(para 5)
The entire paragraph is mistaken – and repeats a set of Whitehead detractors’ fictional account of CAHA, allegedly
concluding GW didn’t fly, with WJOD allegedly quitting CAHA in 1968 and also allegedly, threatening legal action. In fact, WJOD continued to work amicably with CAHA’s president and founder, and CAHA, during CAHA’s early 1970’s investigation into the Whitehead claim, interviewing key witnesses, like E. Koteles. CAHA gave up its investigation which actually began in 1968, as too few members would do the work, which involved travel and much time. They were working full time jobs and just couldn’t take this on.  This is described in GWFIF.
p. 442
(para 4)
Brown‘s documentary film is alleged to be based on his book, which had not been published by the time the documentary came out. The Australian producer used my book, GWFIF, writing and telling me she read it cover to cover, before they began filming. However, Artemis Films curiously neglects to mention GWFIF as a source, even with my written request.
p. 446-447
More misinformation about Whitehead giving up flying after his initial successes.
p. 450
Brown mentions 300 international articles reported GW’s 1901 flight, but neglects to mention that 11 local articles (assembled by Brinchman from the first ten years of the century) referred to his early flights, and that is most important. Repeating the story (as with the Associated Press today) reveals how extensively the original article was repeated. It does show GW became world famous and that his flights were never debunked during that period,  – not to be ignored.
(citation 778)
This finding that a witch was the symbol of early flight came from WJOD’s and my research, and GWFIF – without proper citation.
p. 451
Brown mistakenly refers to only 17 witnesses for a GW flight before the Wrights. The number is actually 18. See chart in my Appendix E and http://gustavewhitehead.info/gustave-whitehead-powered-flight-witnesses/ (my article, Gustave Whitehead Powered Flight Witnesses.)
Also, he names these as two Justices of the Peace and two engineers. In the interest of historical accuracy, Brown should have indicated they later became these …
p. 452
Brown unnecessarily quotes Gray, merely a blogger with a history of flagrant attacks on Whitehead proponents and researchers – nothing more.
p. 453
Analysis of the age of the witnesses appears on my website and in my book. Brown incorrectly states 7 out of 17 witnesses were adults at the time they witnessed a GW flight. Actually, there were 10 out of 18 who were adults at the time.  The numbers don’t lie! See http://gustavewhitehead.info/gustave-whitehead-powered-flight-witnesses/ and Chapter 6 in my book, GWFIF.

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