Way Back When …. 1901
Published 4:00 pm, Thursday, August 4, 2016
This weekend marks the 115th anniversary of what many now believe to be the first flight. On Aug. 14, 1901, Gustave Whitehead took off in a plane in the Fairfield Beach area, two years before the Wright Brothers made their now historic flight. Whitehead’s manned, sustained, powered flight took place at Turney’s Farm in Fairfield in his No. 21 “Flyer.”
Whitehead was born in Leutershausen, Germany, in 1874. He emigrated to America in the 1890s, settling in Bridgeport in 1900 and later in Fairfield. He is listed in city directories as a mechanic, and his tinkering is believed to have led to the development of a powered aircraft.
Want to learn more? The Fairfield Museum’s library contains many books regarding Whitehead, as well as the William O’Dwyer Gustave Whitehead Research Collection, which contains photographs, newspaper articles, and correspondence about Whitehead’s flights; the library also has witness accounts and news articles compiled by Susan Brinchman.
Learn more about the history and culture of Fairfield, view rotating exhibitions and purchase Fairfield-themed gifts at the Fairfield Museum and History Center, 370 Beach Road. 203-259-1598;
The year Gustave Whitehead’s manned, sustained, powered flight took place at Turney’s Farm in Fairfield.