You are on page 1of 3

Who was the first person to fly?

Now when I say fly I mean


sustained, controlled flight in a heavier-than-air aircraft.
Was it that snappy dresser from Brazil Alberto Santos
Dumont? His countrymen fervently think so. His first flight
was on October 23, 1906. It was recognized by Brazilians
and by the French and other Europeans to truly be the first
controlled flight of a heavier-than-air aircraft. It had the
ability to take off from the ground without any catapult
assistance and it was witnessed in public by a large crowd
and the scientific community.
When the Wright Brothers flew in the United States in front
of people in general and in front of the press in particular
they asked that no photographs be taken. They were very
secretive because they were afraid that others would steal
their designs or technical features of the aircraft. During the
timeframe of 1903 - 1906 they still didn't have an approved
or accepted Patent which also was a factor in their secrecy.
Their Patent (# 821,393) was granted on May 22,1906 -
three years after they first flew. Then in 1908 they were
awarded a government contract from the U.S. War
Department ($25,000). They went to Paris on May 29, 1908
and finally demonstrated the aircraft in front of a very large
crowd.
Was it Gustave Whitehead in Fairfield, Connecticut on
August 14, 1901? Eyewitnesses have signed depositions
years later attesting to that statement. Modern replicas of
Whitehead's aircraft have been successfully flown. A
contract was made between the estate of the Wright
Brother's and the Smithsonian Institution to display the
Wright Flyer' at the Smithsonian (National Air & Space
Museum in Washington, D.C.) which stated that if it is
proven that anyone else had flown first that the Wright
Flyer would be taken back. Conspiracy theorists say that
this contract was created to keep facts about Whitehead's
alleged flight from being divulged and published. Does a
photograph exist showing Gustave Whitehead in flight in
1901? Has the existence of this photograph been
suppressed? Controversy to this day still swirls around all
these issues.
Was it Richard Pearse from New Zealand on March 31,
1903? He had eyewitnesses also. But there wasn't any
photographic evidence of flight. Also Richard Pearse has
never said he was the first to fly and he does not want to
take away that claim from the Wright Brother's. The New
Zealand Mint struck a silver medal in 1982 to
commemorate the: "80th Anniversary of the World’s 1st
Powered Flight". The date on the medal is: "31-3-1982".
This of course would have made the alleged 1st flight in
1902. The Museum of Transport and Technology
(MOTAT) in Auckland which had commissioned the silver
medal states on their website that the 1st flight was in 1903.
So was it 1902 or 1903? The debate still goes on.
Was it Glenn Curtiss? He flew an improved (structurally
modified) version of Samuel P. Langley's Great
Aerodrome' in 1914. So does that mean it could have flown
in 1903 before the Wright Brother's? The 'Great
Aerodrome' fell off a houseboat in the Potomac River in
Washington, D.C. twice in 1903 (October 7th and
December 8th).
Mr. Curtiss and the Wright Brother's had Patent Litigation
for many years with regards towards "controllable" flight
and whose control system (wing-warping or elevator's and
ailerons) was the first and therefore legitimate.
Or was it really the Wright Brothers? It has been said that
they didn't really fly on December 17, 1903. Allegedly
when Wilbur Wright was running alongside the aircraft he
was supposedly balancing he was actually lifting it while
his brother Orville Wright was flying it. The deep
depressions of Wilbur's footprints in the sand are supposed
to be proof of that.
Well I was born and raised in Connecticut, but does that
mean I have to automatically state that Gustave Whitehead
was the first to fly? On the contrary, I emphatically state
that I believe that the Wright Brothers (Orville and Wilbur)
designed, built, tested, and flew the first heavier-than-air
aircraft in sustained and controllable flight. Who knows,
maybe someone someday will prove beyond a shadow-of-
a-doubt that someone else was first to fly. But until that day
comes I am sticking with the Wright Brothers.