Sunday, January 18, 2015

Gustave Whitehead Will Finally Get His Day--in Germany

 "Curators are .. required to “ensure the integrity and objectivity of their scholarship and research projects by compiling reference materials and supporting documentation, keeping abreast of current scholarship."--from the Code of Museum Ethics 
Gustave Whitehead reproduction in flight. Link to a slide show about Whitehead.

There has been a long, ongoing debate regarding the contributions to aviation of pioneer Gustave Whitehead, who was a German immigrant to the United States. Whitehead made a manned, powered sustained flight two years before the Wrights that was witnessed and reported in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The Smithsonian Institution has been vehemently opposed to Whitehead's history, stating that there is no proof and supporting the Orville Wright story that Whitehead's flights were a myth.

However, the objections Orville Wright made to the Whitehead history have been mostly refuted by Whitehead researchers. Further, more evidence has been recently uncovered about the control abilities of the Whitehead plane--and even another 1901 documented flight by Whitehead in Bridgeport has been discovered that hasn't entered the public forum yet.

Gustave Whitehead with engine

This past week, January 13, Aviation Historian and Whitehead researcher, John Brown, was invited to address the Bavarian Parliament's Science Committee. According to Mr. Brown, the Parliamentary Enquiry includes as follows:
"The State Govt. is asked to report to the Science and Art Committee:

1. what the status of current research is regarding technical developments and the associated achievements of the Wright Brothers and Gustave Whitehead;

2. what points of contention there are on both sides regarding the assessment of those achievements;

3. how an appropriate commemoration/display of the achievements of Gustave Whitehead can be instituted at the Deutsches Museum;

4. whether it's reasonable for the request under point 3 to be fulfilled by the Curator, Hans Holzer, or whether outside experts are needed.


For some time now, the portrayal of the achievements of the aviation pioneers, Gustave Whitehead and the Wright Brothers, in the Deutsches Museum has been controversial among experts. Despite and because of this, an examination of the respective evaluations of the historical research is necessary. This must be reflected in the Deutsches Museum's portrayal. This deficit must be rectified to include the results of current research.

The Government party was first to put pressure on the Deutsches Museum.
Now the main opposition party has joined in. Together, they represent more
than 75% of the electorate (enough to change to the Constitution)."
This investigation was hard fought. The Wright "history" has been pervasive, even to countries outside the United States.

Why has America's Smithsonian Museum refused to investigate the earlier flights of Gustave Whitehead?

One answer may be found in a blog post by Jonathan Turley "Wrong with Wright"

On April 2, 2013,  famed, reputable, and respected American attorney, Jonathan Turley brought up the simmering debate about whether Gustave Whitehead actually flew before the Wright brothers claimed flight in 1903. Of interest is a long hidden contract between the Smithsonian Institution and the estate of the Wright family that the debate caused to be revealed some years ago

"The 1948 contract states:

 "Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor its successors, nor any museum or other agency … or its successors shall publish or permit to be displayed a statement or label in connection with or in respect of any aircraft model or design of earlier date than the Wright Aeroplane of 1903, claiming in effect that such aircraft was capable of carrying a man under its own power in controlled flight"

According to Turley,  
" The contract required that, in exchange for the famed Wright flyer, the Smithsonian would never recognize that anyone else was first in flight. That does not sit well with historians who believe that the first in flight was actually German immigrant Gustav Whitehead. Putting aside the historical debate," Turley continues, "a contract requiring the museum legally to deny historical claims is plainly unethical. Is it an unenforceable unconscionable contract?"
Conforming to the contract, "...the Smithsonian has long insisted the first flight occurred on Dec. 17, 1903 with the Wright Brothers on their historic flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. However, a recently uncovered photograph has been cited to support the claim of Whitehead that he went airborne on Aug. 14, 1901. In the end, it does not matter. A contract remains in effect that contradicts the very foundation of museum ethics." 
 The Code of Museum Ethics states the following: "Curators are responsible for ensuring that all verbal and written interpretation is accurate and accessible, physically and cognitively, whether prepared by themselves or their subordinates."
And Turley additionally emphasizes from the Code the following:
"Curators are also required to “ensure the integrity and objectivity of their scholarship and research projects by compiling reference materials and supporting documentation, keeping abreast of current scholarship.”
          (Bold type emphasis mine--ed.)

For more about Turley's opinion, please read the remainder of his blog post "Wrong with Wright." Commentary after the post demonstrates some plainly erroneous beliefs of many who help to propagate current historical propaganda.

Note: What Turley doesn't mention and probably doesn't know is the apparent bias of officials of the Smithsonian and other institutions, who are associated with the Wright family and Dayton, Ohio, the origin of the Wright brothers.

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