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.”

This year, on Saturday, Aug. 13, the Fairfield Museum will host a “Fly In” with a replica of Whitehead’s plane on display and aerial demonstrations of aircraft and drones by HobbyTown USA of Fairfield. In addition, Susan Brinchman, author of Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight , will be making a virtual presentation in the Museum’s Meeting Hall at 1pm. She will share strong new evidence supporting his controversial pre-Kitty Hawk flights and his many contributions to modern flight. Brinchman’s book is available in the Fairfield Museum library and in the Museum Shop.

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; Fairfieldhistory.org. The Museum and Museum Shop are open daily, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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1901

The year Gustave Whitehead’s manned, sustained, powered flight took place at Turney’s Farm in Fairfield.