Gustave Whitehead
Copy from Gustave Whitehead's Flying Machine
Website by Megan Adams


Website by Megan Adams
This is just a brief synopsis of the life of Gustave Whitehead - for a comprehensive biography, please follow the link below for a well-written article by William O'Dwyer
Gustave Whitehead was born Gustave Alvin Weisskopf on January 1st, 1874, in Leuterhausen, Bavaria, Germany. Growing up in the era of Otto Lilienthal, the German glider pioneer, young Weisskopf became obsessed with the idea of flying. His Bavarian schoolmates in Hochst am Main called him "The Flyer," for his experiments with tissue paper parachutes.  He and a schoolmate trapped birds in parks so as to study bird flight, until the police intervened (according to his brother Nicholas). Later, in Ansbach, at the age of 13, Gustave attempted a glider flight from the roof of a building at his family's home. The glider was his earliest known attempt at flight, and didn't bear him up, but he was not to be discouraged.
      At age 13 he and his brothers Nicholas and John were orphaned, so the young Weisskopf worked his way to Brazil as a seaman. He spent four years at sea and showed great mechanical aptitude, a gift well suited for the sea. But his heart was always in the sky. He studied the flight of the sea birds. He also survived four shipwrecks, the last of which put him ashore in 1894 on the Gulf Coast near the Florida Panhandle. Young Weisskopf headed northward, taking work when he could get it and reached Boston in 1897. He got a job with the Boston Aeronautical Society. He built a biplane with flapping midwings, it failed to fly.
     Next stop was New York City, he met Louise Tuba, they were married in Buffalo, and for a short time Whitehead found employment in a buggy factory at Tonawanda. He left there shortly after the birth of his eldest daughter, Rose, for Johnstown, Pennsylvania. From there, they moved to Pittsburgh to join friends. In the summer of 1900, the Whitehead’s moved into 241 Pine Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the address from which much of Gustave's early work was completed.

and Museum of Local History

Leutershausen, Germany
     This comprehensive website offers sections devoted to Resumè, History, Research, Museum, Books/Film and Topic, these in both German and English. This is an absolutely treasurehouse of information on this pioneer aviator and is well worth a visit, both online and in person where possible. You can access the site by clicking on the title above.

by William J. O'Dwyer, USAF Reserve (Ret.)

"In late 1963, the dilemma of attempting to determine how Gustave A. Whitehead fit into early powered flight history was more or less thrust upon our then very active 9315th USAF Reserve Squadron in Stratford, Connecticut. The question we were to answer was a tough one: did or did not Whitehead fly with power before the December 17, 1903, events at Kitty Hawk?
There had never been a formal inquiry into that matter. At the request of the Connecticut Aeronautical Historical Association's (CAHA) vice president, Harold "Hal" Dolan, our squadron became the first to embark on that mission. Dolan felt we should dig into the 1901 accounts of flights alleged to have taken place in and around Bridgeport, Fairfield and Stratford, Connecticut. CAHA (now known as the New England Air Museum) was attempting to chronicle aviation history in Connecticut. "

     The magazine article which comes from the Flight Journal, begins with the preceeding remarks from the author, William J. O'Dwyer: It is continued for several pages which tell the whole fascinating story, with pictures, of the Gustave Whitehead saga. I highly recommend it to those of you who are curious about this pioneer inventor and aviator. You can access it by clicking on the title above.
Request for Information
"Konstantin Schepin, Russia, is searching for the e-mail contact with
Megan Adams, Johnstown, PA, being unable to send her a hand-written post
letter due to the poor avia link between the two countries under certain
Editor's Note: I have also been unable to contact Megan by email and hope that someone can help us. I will be happy to forward any information to Konstantin as it is received. Thank you.

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