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.)
Rose Whitehead Rennison
born 21 Oct. 1898
(11 months after parents were married)4 solid sources1. US Social Security Death Index 1935-2014
(Repository: Ancestry.com)2. Find A Grave Memorial
Buried at Vista Memorial Gardens, Miami Lakes, Florida, USAFind A Grave Memorial# 166587307Birth:
Oct. 21, 1898
Oct. 22, 1969
3. 1900 US Census
Birth Date: Oct 1898
Birthplace: New York
Father: Gustave Whitehead
Mother: Louise Whitehead4. Gustave and Louise Whitehead were married on24 November 1897Source: Marriage Certificate