Five First Flights


Clockwise from top left: Gustave Whitehead and daughter Rose with Plane Number 21, 
Clément Ader's Avion III, Alberto Santos-Dumont's 14-BIS, and the Wright Brothers' Flyer 1. (Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images, Hulton Archive/Getty Images, and Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
Clockwise from top left: Gustave Whitehead and daughter Rose with Plane Number 21, Clément Ader's Avion III, Alberto Santos-Dumont's 14-BIS, and the Wright Brothers' Flyer 1. (Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images, Hulton Archive/Getty Images, and Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)

When people say the Wright Brothers were first to fly, they're talking about a very particular set of circumstances. There are other contenders to the title of "first in flight," and each has their own compelling story and list of achievements.

Tracy's Research:

  • "Who flew first?" The Economist. 7/3/2013. http://www.economist.com/node/21580432
  • Best, Kenneth. "The View From/Bridgeport; 100 Years Later, a City Still Claims First Flight." New York Times. 8/19/2001. http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/19/nyregion/the-view-from-bridgeport-100-years-later-a-city-still-claims-first-flight.html?mcubz=3
  • Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. "The Flight Claims of Gustave Whitehead." 12/11/2013. http://newsdesk.si.edu/sites/default/files/Wright%20Bros%20Statement__13.497.pdf
  • Schlenoff, Daniel C. " Scientific American Debunks Claim Gustave Whitehead Was "First in Flight.'" Scientific American. 7/8/2014. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/scientific-american-debunks-claim-gustave-whitehead-was-first-in-flight/
  • Crouch, Tom. "Who Flew First?" Air & Space Magazine. 9/2013. http://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/who-flew-first-290750/?page=2
  • National Parks Service. "Wright Brothers: 1903 – First Flight." https://www.nps.gov/wrbr/learn/historyculture/thefirstflight.htm
  • Wright, Orville. "The Wright Brothers - First Flight, 1903." Eyewitness to History. http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/wright.htm
  • Whipps, Heather. " Wright Brothers & First Flight." LiveScience. 6/4/2012. https://www.livescience.com/2765-wright-brothers-changed-world.html
  • Crouch, Tom D. " Clément Ader." Encyclopedia Britannica. 12/22/2015. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Clement-Ader
  • Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. "The Wright Brothers: Inventing a Flying Machine." https://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/wright-brothers/online/fly/1903/return.cfm
  • O'Shaughnessy, Hugh. " Revealed: the man who really invented the aeroplane." The Independent. 10/21/2006. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/revealed-the-man-who-really-invented-the-aeroplane-421147.html
  • Crouch, Tom D. " Alberto Santos-Dumont." Encyclopedia Britannica. March 21, 2017. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Alberto-Santos-Dumont
  • Breger, Brian, director. "Wings of Madness." PBS Nova. Airdate November 7, 2006. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/transcripts/3316_santos.html
  • New Zealand Ministry of Culture and Heritage. "Richard Pearse." Updated 10/30/2014. https://nzhistory.govt.nz/culture/richard-pearse
  • O'Rourke, Paul. " Pearse flew long after Wrights." Stuff.co.nz. 4/24/2012. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/6799761/Pearse-flew-long-after-Wrights
  • Hampton, Jeff. " New evidence Pearse did not fly before Wright brothers." NewsHub. 4/14/2012. http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/new-evidence-pearse-did-not-fly-before-wright-brothers-2012041417
  • Christchurch City Libraries. "Richard William Pearse, 1877-1953." https://my.christchurchcitylibraries.com/richard-william-pearse/

Topics in this Podcast: 19th century, 20th century, aviation history, Wright Brothers, inventors, ballooning