Talk:Gustave Whitehead

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Wright Airplane Co website a reliable source for the 1901 Bridgeport newspaper article covering Whitehead's First Flight?[edit]

The link to this website was listed first as a source to the 1901 Bridgeport weekly newspaper. The website attempts to cast doubt on the integrity of the newspaper by mentioning a few "hand-picked" articles that occupied the same space as the 1901 article covering the first flight in 1901. I'd suggest removing this link as the source for the 1901 article. It's not necessary when a copy of it is already linked as a source. Let the reader draw their own conclusions. Why hasn't the author of that website showed each and every article that occupied that space? Or, mentioned that the Wright brothers first flight in 1903 was covered in an obsure beekeepers journal as a side by side comparison of the way early flight was covered in newspapers in the early 1900s. BTW, I believe the Bridgeport newspaper was the most circulated in Connecticut at the time.Tomticker5 (talk) 15:20, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

You appear to be talking about this article at the website. I would not remove the link; it offers valuable insight as to why Howell might have put the Whitehead story on page 5 rather than the front page. This context is very useful. Binksternet (talk) 16:34, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Do you think it would also be useful to add content with a link to the beekeeper journal that was the first to report the Wright brothers 1903 flight? I would add it immediately after mentioning, for the umpteen time, that the 1901 flight would have been 2 1/2 years before the Wright brothers 1903 flight?Tomticker5 (talk) 18:52, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

The article by Amos Root in Gleanings in Bee Culture appeared in the January 1, 1905 issue. The article is not about the 1903 flights by the Wrights at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, but is about their ongoing work in airplane flights at Huffman Prairie near Dayton, Ohio, that Amos Root witnessed. As such the reference is probably better placed with text on those flights and not with Gustave Whitehead's work.Dan at Scientific American 19:05, 27 November 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Dan SciAm (talkcontribs)

I stand corrected. The Bee Culture was the first to publish an "eyewitness" account of the Wrights flying in 1905. Very similar to the Bridgeport Herald article "eyewitness" account of Whitehead flying in 1901. The legitimacy and veracity of the page 5 Bridgeport Herald article was confirmed by the Bridgeport Herald itself in 1937. How can the owner of the Wright Airplane Co. website assume to know what the newspaper's intent was better than the newspaper itself? There seems to be no doubt as to what the intent of that article was - an eyewitness account of the first successful manned powered controlled airplane flight in Connecticut - in 1901.Tomticker5 (talk) 20:07, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
I want to comment on the apparent disdain in which Tomticker5 holds Amos Root's journal. It's worth knowing, as Tomticker5 apparently does not, that beekeeping in those days was a major agricultural enterprise. Root's journal was the most well known and widely circulated of the various publications devoted to bee keeping. Root's journal is often portrayed as obscure by those who have an anti-Wright bias. Carroll F. Gray (talk) 05:24, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
Tom, can you provide a web address or other source for the 1937 newspaper statement? Sounds very interesting, and I'd like to read it. DonFB (talk) 20:34, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
I think this issue should have more emphasis in our article. It's not just the that presents it, there's also Carl von Wodtke, the managing editor of Aviation History magazine. Von Wodtke writes to to say,

It's worth noting for context that the Herald report appeared on page 5—a slot often reserved for sensational "amazing but true" stories—under a heading showing four witches flying on broomsticks. Previous page 5 articles had included "The Dog Man of Windham," about a Bigfoot-like creature spotted in Connecticut's woods, and the following week the page carried "The Woodbury Kleptomania," about a woman who stole rare plants and chickens.

This viewpoint should be given a stronger voice. In doing so, the previous 1996 Aviation History reference in our biography will have to be recharacterized as being Frank Delear's opinion rather than the magazine's opinion... which I have just done. Binksternet (talk) 20:46, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

I agree, the manner in which the media covered eyewitness accounts of Whitehead's 1901 flight and the Wright brothers 1905 flights should have more emphasis in both their articles, not just in Whitehead's. Whitehead's 1901 flight was covered by the editor of the largest circulated newspaper in Connecticut at the time. The Wright brothers 1905 flights were covered by a beekeepers journal. Within a few months, Whitehead's 1901 flight was covered by over 135 newspapers around the world.Tomticker5 (talk) 14:27, 29 November 2013 (UTC)

There were many newspaper articles about the Wright 1903 Kitty Hawk flights in the days and weeks afterward, although a lot of the articles contained major inaccuracies about height, distance and details of construction. Between 1903 and 1908, the year the brothers made their first pre-announced public demonstration flights, many more articles had appeared reporting their flying experiments. I haven't performed a systematic enumeration like John Brown, but I would guess that by 1908 the number of newspaper articles about Wright flights very likely exceeded 100. The Library of Congress website contains page after page showing actual images of newspaper articles about the Wrights. Each webpage in the series shows multiple articles from different newspapers. Start on image page 11 at this address:
Proceed to about image page 90 or so and you'll see dozens of articles about Wright flying published prior to the public demonstrations.
The original Whitehead article in the Herald has an edge over the Wright articles, since it was written as an eyewitness account. But all the dozens of followup Whitehead articles were merely reprints or rewrites of the original, and some also contained subsequent statements Whitehead made. The Wrights also gave the press a public statement in January 1904 about their Kitty Hawk flights. To me, it is enormously interesting and entertaining that the exact same kind of controversy swirled--raged--over the Wright brothers in the period between their 1903 and 1908 flights that have churned over Whitehead since the time of Randolph's first writing about him. To wit, this quotation from the Paris Herald, Nov. 28, 1906:
History is likely to attach less importance to the "affidavits" of people who "saw the brothers fly" than to the undisputed and undeniable flights of M.Santos-Dumont.
You can see it here:
Evidently, "affidavits" did not impress everyone back in those days either. Keep in mind, though, that those pro-Wright "affidavits" (actually, informal witness statements, not sworn) described events in the very recent past, compared to the Whitehead affidavits, which described events more than 30 years in the past.
The conclusion from all this? Newspaper reports are not always accurate or true, and when it comes to historical events of many years past, the information news articles contain is not the same as the considered judgement of historians and scholars over the decades. DonFB (talk) 06:01, 30 November 2013 (UTC)
If the number of articles published as re-writes of the August 18, 1901, Sunday Bridgeport Herald were some form of proof that the August 18th story were true and factual, then Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound must have been effective, for hundreds, probably many thousands, of testimonials and "witness" statements about her "positive cure" can be found in almost every issue of every newspaper in the US between 1876 and the 1920's. My point is that the sheer number of articles has no bearing on the truth of what is being "reported." Carroll F. Gray (talk) 05:35, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
A nice try Mr. Gray, but aren't you comparing apples to oranges? Paul Jackson, the editor of Jane's All the World Aircraft, accepts that Whitehead flew first because of the evidence. According to Jackson, Whitehead's machine COULD fly and people SAW it fly. There was no reason for 20+ people to tell lies, no reason for two government officials (investigators) to make false evidence, and no reason for the Bridgeport Sunday Herald to print false stories about it.Tomticker5 (talk) 20:20, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
What official investigations?TheLongTone (talk) 20:44, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
Tom, I am surprised that you are still here promoting Whitehead as first to fly. The recent revelation is very damning, that the Bridgeport Herald article was a fanciful reworking of an earlier article published in the New York Sun about Whitehead's unmanned experiment of 3 May 1901.[1] Paul Jackson is going to have egg on his face once he realizes he's been bamboozled by John Brown of Australia. Carroll Gray gets the last laugh with his analysis. Binksternet (talk) 20:52, 29 March 2014 (UTC)
What a very interesting link. Newspapers, eh?TheLongTone (talk) 21:07, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

The content of the New York Sun report is hardly a recent revelation. I added that content here several years ago. Has Gray actually said the Bridgeport Sunday Herald August 1901 article is plagiarism? Isn't this just another cheap shot to discredit Whitehead, Brown and now JAWA? Gray keeps saying that Whitehead wasn't scientific. Can he explain how Whitehead came to experiment at Lordship? He must have just stumbled upon it by accident, right Mr. Gray? Only time will tell, who will have egg on their face.Tomticker5 (talk) 16:26, 31 March 2014 (UTC)

I think the editor of Jane's is the one with the egg problem.TheLongTone (talk) 16:44, 31 March 2014 (UTC)
I've been away with a broken arm, apologies for not being here to continue the discussion... Tomticker, as with so many comments and assertions made by those who advocate for GW, your question about "plagarism" and the Sunday Bridgeport Herald article misses the point while being heated. Re-writes and slapped-together articles drawn on earlier articles and multiple sources were nothing new in newspaper publishing of the time, and could hardly be construed as "plagarism" and I will kindly ask you to not attempt to put words in my mouth. When I find plagarism ( and I have) I call it such, when something is a re-write I call it that. The 14 August 1901 Sunday Bridgeport Herald article about GW's supposed exploits was a re-write which drew on the earlier NY Sun article I cited, as well as articles concerning "Custead's Air Ship" which had nothing to do with GW. I think a fair characterization of the 14 August 1901 article is that it was a re-write, a filler article, a Sunday entertainment, meant to offer some enjoyment and humor to the paper's readers, as indeed was the earlier NY Sun article.
As for the Lordship "flights" and "experiments" - there is nothing, save for a meager few comments by biased individuals, to indicate anything involving GW and aviation ever took place there in 1901-1902. Period.
JAWA is not an aviation history publication and Editor in Chief Jackson (and RAeS Fellow) is not particularly well-versed in aviation history. GW's advocates have elevated Jane's to a status far beyond that which Editor Jackson is likely totally comfortable asserting. It is the leading aerospace industry publication, and it must be said that virtually all of what it publishes is drawn from aviation company hand-outs. For what it's worth (and this might be inappropriate for a wiki discussion) I believe Editor Jackson is an honorable person, who was truly struck when Brown offered his now-thoroughly-discredited "forensic photo analysis" of GW supposedly in flight. I recognized the "blob" in question as a Montgomery glider, and with the help of others identified that image to the satisfaction of all but the most diehard GW advocates, as being a Montgomery glider.
I prefer my eggs hard-boiled, deviled, or over easy... Carroll F. Gray (talk) 06:18, 6 July 2014 (UTC)

Second UK Opinion on the Flying Locomobile[edit]

Probably should work in June 2014 statement from a source that should be considered "reputable" in spite of its being unimpeachably "mainstream" and for that reason apparently suspect in the eyes of some editors. Michael Oakey begins his brief statement on Whitehead for the Historical Group of the Royal Areonautical Society as follows:"All available evidence fails to support the claim that Gustave Whitehead made sustained, powered, controlled flights pre-dating those of the Wright brothers." And so on.

Mr.Jackson,I would offer you my handkerchief, but Mr. Walcott is still using it. I could ask for it back but after all he was so right about the Burgess Shale and I'm not sure you've been right about anything...Tah. (talk) 04:47, 28 March 2015 (UTC)

Legacy no more[edit]

Howdy, Whitehead article fans. Recently, I have done major editing on this article, mostly to trim, streamline and clean it up--something it's needed for a long time. I had not planned on doing it just now, but one thing quickly led to another after I made a simple update to External Links. I now offer a slightly more radical proposal: to completely eliminate the "Legacy" section as currently written. It does not seem to describe Whitehead "legacy"; it essentially just re-hashes and repeats information already contained in the article--an opinion expressed by one or more other editors in previous discussions. I think the article would benefit from excision of this bloat. What say you? DonFB (talk) 21:44, 24 February 2016 (UTC)

Deleted, absent comments. DonFB (talk) 01:18, 1 March 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

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Lede assessment of photograph violates Wiki NPOV[edit]

The lede assessment of the photograph influencing the "Janes..." editorial...

"The editorial relied heavily on a researcher whose misidentification of a photo of Whitehead in powered flight was conclusively debunked by another researcher."

...violates Wikipedia's NPOV standard. I'm revising it to conform to Wiki NPOV standards, and further explicitly identifying, by name, the parties at issue, who are among the foremost global principals in this debate.

  • "researcher": John Brown
  • "another researcher": Carroll F. Gray

This is particularly important in this case because the source cited, originally, was an opinion essay by one of those people, expressing his opinion of the photograph, and his spin on the clarification statement by IHS/Janes -- hardly a neutral point of view.

That individual was Carroll F. Gray, who comments here extensively, and is one of the principal Whitehead-legend opponents, and the reference citation was to his own blog at the Huffington Post -- which is arguably not the most discriminating of sources, but rather seeks to amass a large pool of contributors, like Wikipedia, but with less stringent requirements for reference citations and other documentation in published work.

That IHS/Janes clarification statement, by the way, which Gray leans upon, did NOT explicitly dispute the Whitehead claim of "first to fly" -- but rather simply asserted that:

"In March 2013, IHS Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft Editor Paul Jackson wrote an article based on recently discovered data recognizing Gustave Whitehead - not the Wright Brothers- as first to make a manned, powered, controlled flight.
"The article was intended to stimulate discussion about first in flight. The article reflected Mr. Jackson’s opinion on the issue and not that of IHS Jane’s.
"IHS Jane’s recognizes and respects that there are differing views on this historical analysis and IHS makes no argument about the success of the Wright Brothers, who hold their rightful place in history as aviation pioneers and heroes.

(I'm quoting Gray's own excerpt of the IHS/Janes statement, as re-published in his own blog.)

Mr. Gray has made a near-career out of defending the Wright Brothers, and it would be unfair to the Wikipedia reader to conceal that it was his subjective (if plausible) assessment of the photo that is referenced in this line.

In fairness to Mr. Gray, I'm also naming the "researcher" (John Brown) who made the assertion that the photo showed Whitehead in flight.

For clarity, I'm adding additional reference citations, including to another blog where Gray claims that he is the person who debunked the photo with an alternate interpretation.

~ Zxtxtxz (talk) 10:07, 18 October 2016 (UTC)
Gray may be the most VOCAL of the detractors, but it is disingenuous on your part to state that he is the only person standing between Whitehead and his claim to fame. It is beyond debate that essentially all reputable scholars are in agreement that the Whitehead's claims and the claims of his supporters are unfounded.
Also blog posts are not generally considered to be official references by Wiki standards - just FYI. Ckruschke (talk) 16:20, 26 October 2016 (UTC)Ckruschke