Wrong With Wright: Smithsonian Under Fire For Wright Brothers Contract

Wright_Flyer_First_Flight 660There is an interesting contracts controversy brewing over at the Smithsonian. Yes, it is possible to have an interesting contracts controversy. In this case, the contract was signed in 1948 between the estate of Orville Wright and the Smithsonian. The contract required that, in exchange for the famed Wright flyer, the Smithsonian would never recognize that anyone else was first in flight. That does not sit well with historians who believe that the first in flight was actually German immigrant Gustav Whitehead. Putting aside the historical debate, a contract requiring the museum legally to deny historical claims is plainly unethical. Is it an unenforceable unconscionable contract?

The 1948 contract states:

“Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor its successors, nor any museum or other agency … or its successors shall publish or permit to be displayed a statement or label in connection with or in respect of any aircraft model or design of earlier date than the Wright Aeroplane of 1903, claiming in effect that such aircraft was capable of carrying a man under its own power in controlled flight.”

Unknown220px-Whitehead_woodcutAccordingly, the Smithsonian has long insisted the first flight occurred on Dec. 17, 1903 with the Wright Brothers on their historic flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. However, a recently uncovered photograph has been cited to support the claim of Whitehead that he went airborne on Aug. 14, 1901. In the end, it does not matter. A contract remains in effect that contradicts the very foundation of museum ethics. Here is the code. This includes: “Curators are responsible for ensuring that all verbal and written interpretation is accurate and accessible, physically and cognitively, whether prepared by themselves or their subordinates.” Curators are also required to “ensure the integrity and objectivity of their scholarship and research projects by compiling reference materials and supporting documentation, keeping abreast of current scholarship.”

The question is whether this contract with the Wright family is enforceable. For example, the family could demand the plane back if the museum denies the required claim. The conflict presents a curator’s version of the “Rule Against Perpetuities” in property. That analogous rule in property states that a will cannot limit “future interests that do not vest within the time permitted and “limit[s] the testator’s power to earmark gifts for remote descendants.” In this case, the museum was given ownership for $1 but the family could claim that the sale was invalidated by the continuing condition. Even if this were true however it would be better to lose the plane than the integrity of the museum. My guess is that the Wright family would be responsible if asked to waive the condition. At least I hope they would be. If not, I would as interested to see the contract put on display in place of the plane.

Source: Fox

51 thoughts on “Wrong With Wright: Smithsonian Under Fire For Wright Brothers Contract

  1. “Even if this were true however it would be better to lose the plane than the integrity of the museum. My guess is that the Wright family would be responsible if asked to waive the condition. At least I hope they would be. If not, I would as interested to see the contract put on display in place of the plane.”


  2. Maybe it could be said the museum does not necessarily have to deny that someone flew before the Wright Brothers, it just cannot display any model or wording showing someone doing this.

  3. The Wrights were pretty good self-promoters, and also litigious. They invented wing warping for roll control, but others invented ailerons, which Glenn Curtiss patented. Ailerons made it possible to build a sturdy wing that did not have to be warped, paving the way for highly maneuverable and fast airplanes. They sued Curtiss and won, but he was able to drag it out with legal maneuvering, until the matter became irrelevant.

    The Wrights engaged in so many legal challenges, that it hurt their reputations, both at home and in Europe. Legal wrangling took up much of their time. This meant they did not continue developing the airplane as they could have if it were not for the lawsuits.

    I like Gene’s idea of putting the contract on display. It will speak for itself. At the same time, it will show how the Smithsonian sold its integrity to get the Wright Flyer.

  4. Keeping w/ interesting contracts, I’m reading The Baseball Trust. It’s penned by UCLA law prof, Stuart Banner and is a detailed history of baseball’s reserve clause. It’s quite good so far but I’m only ~50 pages into it. A book for baseball fans, attorneys, and a double bonus for baseball fan attorneys, which I know reside here.

  5. The doctrine of estoppel would apply. The family heirs, who are not the original liars, would be estopped to enforce a contractual provision which is false, and requires the opposing party to assert a falsehood. A falsehood is one who wears a hoodie but is not really a thief. The Smithsonian is the one to assert the defense of estoppel. There are three genre of estoppel. Estoppel by judgment is the first. I will leave it to BarkinDog to explain the rest. I got estopped from humpin PunkinDog because she already had a stoppel. So, I just know a little. BarkinDog was a lawyer in a prior life as a human and he is chimning in with the dogpac about the Smithsonian and the first in flight thing as I bark.

  6. I would assert, on behalf of the museum if there is a lawsuit, the two related defenses, the defense of estoppel by silence and the defense of estoppel by laches. Silence is similar to laches. The family kept quiet all these years in spite of talk and examples in the museum of who might have been first ot fly. Silence is golden, laches is when you sit on your rights– similar. I would also assert the defense of spelling. That the Wright Brothers could not get the name spelled Right to begin with. If ya brought in the Donald you could trump lies with truth. Next the Wright Brothers family will say that because they were first in flight, that they were first in space as in outer space. Some of the ducks over here at the marina have a quibble with the first in flight thing. How about circus acts? They were right up there.

  7. Tell ya what Smithsonians, I will build a replica of Whitehead’s plane and donate it with the stipulation that you throw the Wright Bros plane back to the family and let them take it on the road.

  8. The reason for the stipulation was the the Smithsonian had long ago abandoned historical truth since they insisted that the head of the Smithsonian, Langley, had designed and had the first heavier than aircraft flown under his direction. They deemed that a flight off of a houseboat in the Potomac which fell off the top into the water constituted the first flight. The US Navy went so far as to name its first aircraft carrier the Langley. Langley and Bell were politically connected, and the Wrights were rather pissed off at this chicanery, so they put the Wright Flyer in the British Museum since the Smithsonian refused to acknowledge the simple truth.

    I have read the claims for Whitehead and I am not convinced at all since there are so many questions that have not been answered to sustain the claim. There is no question that he was engaged in flying experiments and did make the engines for aviation buffs. The problems with his claim are many. First the Wright brothers have a huge paper trail of their research. Whitehead to my knowledge has little or none. I visited the Air Force Museum at Wright-Pat and the most important device I think was the wind tunnel that they constructed. If you can show me a wind tunnel that Whitehead developed or notes he made on airfoils and props, THEN I will concede that Whitehead has a valid claim. The fact is that the Wrights acted like real pilots. When they first got off the ground, they did NOT STOP. They kept on flying that same day until they finally crashed and wrecked the airplane which forced them to stop. It beggars my mind to think that after having gotten into the air, Whitehead would simply stop after one flight, and then never fly again! Then if he had succeeded why did he not file any patent? That is also rather incredible.

    The good thing about filing patents is that you have to prove your contention in court. I will be persuaded when Whitehead’s heirs or advocates go to court to prove the claim. Simply having one photo is insufficient proof unless you can provide the plans details, research, etc.. to back up the claim. Langley could and DID claim that his machine flew when it fell into the water. The same could be true of the photo since we do not know the circumstances of the weather such as wind speed, measurements to prove it flew a fixed distance into the wind, etc.. We can look at the post flight actions of the Wrights. They went home and kept on making flights and improving on their machines and becoming better pilots. Whitehead did nothing of the kind. At the very best case for Whitehead, assuming that he did fly, it is like the “discovery” of America. We all know Columbus was NOT the first European to get to America, since the Vikings came here long before, and some Irish claim that they did too. The FACT is that Columbus was the only voyage that really mattered since it changed world history. The same if true of the Wrights, plus they have legal judgements on their side. I find it rather funny that a blog with a lot of lawyers would dismiss the findings of US courts in this matter.

  9. It’s to my understanding that the Wrights did not want to give the Flyer to the Smithsonian unless they stood by the Wrights as first in flight. If they don’t, the Flyer simply reverts back to the family. That’s how I would want it to if I were the Wrights. Obviously they don’t want to give up the airplane, so they are doing everything they can short of agreeing….which I find disappointing.

  10. ARE:
    I agree with your observation regarding Langley. No doubt he tried to invent an airplane, but he never invented a way to control it. Although scale models of the Langley Aerodrome flew, the full sized one was probably too heavy to fly. Glenn Curtiss flew a highly modified Langley machine in 1909, as part of his lawsuit with the Wrights, but Curtiss still lost the court decision. Although the Langley machine flew for Curtiss after he modified it extensively, it just barely flew.

    When I was a kid, the ongoing propaganda by Langley’s promoters and defenders at the Smithsonian was hard to miss. That PR effort was in all the aviation magazines. Funny thing, in all the decades I subscribed to Air Trails, I don’t remember them ever publishing the plans for a model of the Langley Aerodrome. There were several plans published for both the Wright Flyer and the Vin Fiz. As far as I can recall, no one ever published plans for a model of Whitehead’s machine either. I have seen pictures of it and articles about it, but I am skeptical that it actually flew in controlled flight. Guillow’s, the great model airplane company famous for their rubber powered scale models, has a great kit of the Wright Flyer.

    Somebody once wrote that the Wrights really did not invent the airplane, they invented flying. There is a vast difference between a machine that will get off the ground, and one that can be maneuvered.

  11. ARB,

    Thank you for your reasoned comment. A photograph alone, without a paper trail, doesn’t prove Whitehead was the first to fly. Over decades, rumors and gossip can overcome facts, which might explain the Wright family’s contract.

  12. In aviation there is a saying that with enough power, you can make a barn fly. So absent any further substantiation, one photo proves nothing at all. The Wrights had photos, actual measurements of wind speed and distances, and witnesses, Cars and horses have flown thanks to tornadoes and hurricanes, but no rational person would contend that such cars can fly or that Pegasus is real. Then I thank the many lawyers who provide me some mirth by their willingness to throw out the findings of US courts with very little proof.

  13. randyjet,
    It is well known that your observation about power is true. The F-4 is proof that given enough power, even a brick will fly.

  14. OS Hell the F-104 does not even have wings! Those things are just directional stabilizers. The Pitts aircraft are much the same too. Power off landings are a real trip with that plane.

  15. I almost forgot. Both Whitehead and Langley built aircraft with low aspect ratio wings. Some of the early Wright gliders had low aspect ratio wings and the did not perform well either. They used their wind tunnel to test different airfoils and wing shapes. They discovered a long narrow wing lifted more with exactly the same area, than a short broad wing. The documentation was extensive. High aspect ratio wings are much more efficient at lifting than low aspect ratio. That is why high performance gliders have extremely long narrow wings.

    It is safe to say the Wrights invented the high aspect ratio wing, which meant they had the best chance of succeeding where both Whitehead and Langley did not. Take a look at the photo at the link below, and compare that wing shape with that of the “Langley Aerodrome” and the “Whitehead Number 21.”

    My suspicion is that the Wright family wanted the Smithsonian to have the Flyer, but did not trust the management. Not surprising given their past history at the time. I agree with ARE on that.

  16. Randy,
    I agree on the F-104. Never flew a Pitts. I shudder to think how the Gee Bee R-2 might act if the noise stopped.

  17. I believe that Jimmy Doolittle found out how the Gee Bee flew when the noise stopped. He was probably one of the few pilots who could successfully land it and walk away from it. The procedure for the F-104 was to simply eject when the engine quit and no dead stick landings. Scott Crossfield had that happen once, but he thought he was good enough to land it without power. He is one of the few who did it and lived to talk about it. Unfortunately, he forgot that the brakes on it were only good for one shot after landing, so he was so proud of his achievement that he tried the Bob Hoover thing and used his momentum to coast to the hangar at Edwards. When it came time to stop, he found he had no brakes at all, and coasted into the hangar missing all the planes, but the door on the other side was closed and he got stopped by that as he crashed into it. They said that the saying was that Yeager broke the sound barrier, and Crossfield broke the hangar door.

  18. a contract requiring the museum legally to deny historical claims is plainly unethical. Is it an unenforceable unconscionable contract?

    The museum isn’t legally obligated to deny historical claims. They are simply required to ignore them IF they want to keep the plane. Two completely different things.

  19. I remember seeing Crossfield tell that story on a TV documentary.

    Too bad about his loss. Even with all that time and experience, flying into embedded thunderstorms is a losing propositon.

  20. I don’t see how the contract is unconscionable. There was no disparity in bargaining power between the parties. The museum was and is under no obligation or undue pressure to exhibit the Wright plane. If the museum wants to breach the contract, then I would think it’s free to do so, but not free to keep the plane.

  21. OS I guess he had more confidence in Cessna than was warranted, but at least we have gotten the controllers now to call out radar returns far more often as a result. While it may be a pain, I much prefer that to NOT knowing what they are seeing. I don’t know if he had radar on board or if it was working. In any case, it was a great loss to all of us.

  22. Michael Val
    If one goes back and reads the whole history of the Smithsonian and their involvement (or perhaps “investment” is a better word) with Langley and his invention, it is clear why the Wright estate did not trust the Smithsonian.

    As for Whitehead and Langley, I don’t think either of those machines were capable of flying, even on a good day. Langley’s machine did eventually fly, but just barely, and only after extensive modifications by Glenn Curtiss. As far as I can tell, even the Smithsonian has now come around.

    There has never been an issue with people flying a heavier than air machine before the Wrights. Otto Lillienthal flew what we would now call a hang glider. He controlled it by weight shifting, and it had no power other than gravity. There is no documented evidence that anyone, anywhere, took off and flew under power before December 1903.

  23. Jeff, The Smithsonian had NO problem denying historical reality for over 45 years and ignoring US court decisions. So I don’t think that they will be too put out over this latest flap. At least the Wrights had to PROVE their claims in court, and Whitehead is given a pass on such a rigorous procedure. Guess which most rational people will rely on?

  24. Gene,
    Santos-Dumont was the first to fly a controllable lighter than air machine; e.g., a balloon. Before that, all balloons were just hot air and not controllable. Santos-Dumont did not build and fly a heavier than air aircraft until late 1906, a full three years after the Wrights flew at Kitty Hawk.

    You might say that Santos-Dumont was the inventor of the prototype dirigible and blimp.

  25. OS,

    It was my understanding that Santos-Dumont’s 14-bis was a fixed wing aircraft – while not as manuerverable as the Kitty Hawk in the air – was far superior in its powered take off and landing capabilities and that is why his supporters contend it is the first practical fixed wing aircraft. Emphasis on practical.

  26. Gene,
    That is an argument that could go on forever, however, the Wright aircraft took off from a dolly, gained altitude and flew for a distance years before Santos-Dumont. The December 3, 1903 flyer made five flights, the last being 852 feet into an 18 knot headwind. In 1905, the third flyer made a circling flight of 24 miles and was aloft 39 minutes. Santos-Dumont did not get off the ground until a year later.

    Glenn Curtiss designed the first airplane capable of true aerobatics in 1911.

    The whole mess started with the curator of the Smithsonian, Charles Wolcott, who was a close friend of Samuel Langley. Wolcott was adamant about refusing to recognize the Wright’s success, despite the highly publicized total failure of Langley’s Aerodrome to fly. Orville Wright tried to persuade the Smithsonian to take the Flyer, but Wolcott refused to budge. Orville told Wolcott he was going to send the Flyer to London, but even that could not get Wolcott to come off his position that Langley had invented the airplane. The Wright estate had to wait for Wolcott to die in 1927. A new curator, Charles Abbot took over, and in 1942, Abbot published a list of the extensive modifications Glenn Curtiss had made to Langley’s machine in order to get it to fly. With that publication, Abbot also withdrew the claim that Langley was the inventor of the airplane. Once the 1942 retraction of Wolcott’s claims was published, Orville began negotiations to return the Flyer to the US. The result was the return of the Flyer, provided the Smithsonian did not resurrect the claims Wolcott had made. That was the real purpose of the agreement.

    The British had taken it from display and placed in an underground storage facility some distance from London to protect it and other historical treasures.

    After the war, the Flyer was returned in 1948. Orville died that same year. In 1985, it underwent a full restoration, which is expected to be good for 75 years. It is scheduled for another restoration in 2060 if needed.

    I love this stuff. I have an authenticated swatch of fabric from the original Wright Flyer called the “Vin Fiz,” which Cal Rogers flew from coast to coast in 1911.

  27. OS,

    To tell the truth, I’d never heard of Santos-Dumont until he was mentioned on a documentary I saw in the middle of the night on the Military Channel last week (insomnia).

  28. OS I am surprised that such a thing could be authenticated since I thought the only original thing that made the whole trip was the pilot. There were so many crashes and rebuilding of the plane and they did not have to have yellow tagged parts or logbook entries, I wonder how this was authenticated.

  29. ARE,
    I have thought of that. Reading about the Cal Roger’s three month trip is better than anything the producers of the TV Survivors show could come up with. Also, the FAI now rules that what you start out with, you have to bring back. That is why the Rutan/Yeager around the world flight, they even brought back the contents of the airplanes “waste management” system.

    At first, the FAI refused to recognize Yuri Gagarin as the first human space flight because he ejected from the Vostok space capsule before landing. The FAI later relented.

    The piece of fabric I have is from the collection of “parts flying in close formation” Cal Rogers made it to Long Beach with.

  30. I am sure that the Henry Ford Museum aviation section would love to have this attraction…. However, if the RAP is held in effect….. Things could get a little tricky….

  31. OS I think it is safe to say that the fabric made it all the way across the country with the plane, Just when and where it was during the whole trip is probably unknowable. It may have been on the plane the whole trip, or it may have been added along the way. In any case, I am sure that you can authenticate it if it came off the plane after it landed at Long Beach.

  32. OS I agree that this flight should be made into a TV series since it is so incredible. I loved the TV film about Pancho Barnes, but that was so scrubbed that it lost some of the outrageous behavior, and to cast a beautiful woman like Bertenelli as Pancho would have startled Pancho herself, since she was anything but beautiful.

  33. randyjet,
    The fabric swatch I have is authenticated by the Smithsonian. I have the paper.

    As for the Pancho Barnes docudrama, I too was rather taken aback by the casting. I never had the honor of meeting Pancho Barnes, but have seen photos of her and some who did know her. As a young women, I can see Bertenelli as Pancho, but not later in life. Pancho Barnes did not age well.

  34. The plaintiffs here, the Wright Bros heirs, would be estopped to assert some falsehood. Estoppel is a fine defense. I dont think that there would be a lawsuit. The family would not have privity of contract to assert the claim. This means that just because HumpinDog was my Pa that I get the right to assert HumpinDog’s assertion that he was the first to pork SusieQ the ChiWowWow. Some apCray goes down hill but not BS.

    Now what happens if we find out that some other creatures, who call themselves Man, stepped on the Moon before the American guys did in 1969. The Smithsonian would be asserting One Small Step For Man, One Giant Step For Mankind. And the Museum in Remulak would be asserting, One Big Layover on That Piddlin Stop On The Way, One Damn Nusiance For RemulakKind.

    And so it goes.

  35. I am on vacation in Vegas and am only commenting because you made reference to my planet. We never set foot on the Moon.

  36. I’m taking the Wright heirs’ case on this one. I don’t believe there was a “contract” between the Wrights and the Smithsonian. I’ll argue that what we have here is a conditional gift. The Smithsonian may display the original Wright plane under the condition that it will never gainsay the Wright’s claim to have been first in powered flight. If the Smithsonian ever does do, the plane reverts to the Wright’s heirs. The Smithsonian received and has displayed the plane fully aware of the condition and can hardly cry foul now.

  37. Last fall, I went to the Air& Space Museum. I asked the tour guide about Whiteheads claim and he nearly blew a gasket “Those are lies that have repeatedly debunked” he said.

  38. If you wanted a real heart attack. you should have asked about the Smithsonians past crediting Langley with inventing the first airplane and first flight. I had a similar thing happen when I visited the Lenin Museum in Lvov and I asked through an acquaintance who spoke Ukrainian about the lack of any mention of the Zimmerwald manifesto that Lenin was in part responsible for writing. The museum docent had a fit, and went into a diatribe. in defense of the Smithsonian folks, I have to say that they have corrected their ways, and acknowledge their past errors. I am not so sure of the ones at the Lenin Museum since I guess that they are unemployed at present.

  39. Even if someone manages to avoid mentioning Gustav Whitehead, one cannot ignore Wilhelm Kress who flew only two months after Whitehead.

    Wright advocates deny that Kress flew. A lack of power from Kress’s gas powered motor limited his test flight to hops instead of continuous distance. His design was capable of flight.

    Or does Kress not count because he did it outside the US?

  40. P Smith,
    Kress’ contributions to aviation have not gone unrecognized; however his machine, the Drachenflieger. never actually flew. Kress made a few short hops in ground effect, but never made any kind of controlled flight. Kress’. In order to call it true flying, the flight has to be higher than one-half the wingspan of the airplane. Ground effect is an interesting phenomenon, and does not even require wings, just wing stubs. In ground effect, the machine rides on a bubble of air compressed under it by the fuselage and wing stubs. The Soviet Union even developed a giant ground effect transport, the Ekratoplan, that “flew” at high speed, but only a few feet above the water.

    There were no aerodynamic controls, although he could control it while taxiing it. The engine was far too heavy, and he was never able to solve the power-to- weight ratio problem. Controlling direction on water was old technology, since boats have used rudders since before recorded history. He tried to use auger type propellers, which are grossly inefficient, despite the fact this type of propeller was “invented” by Leonardo DaVinci. Kress never seemed to understand that a propeller was a rotating wing, instead of a screw. Maxim designed Whitehead’s propeller, and understood the cross section should be an airfoil. However Maxim did not do the extensive testing the Wright brothers did and his propellers were very low aspect ratio, that is, short fat blades. The Wrights discovered, through extensive testing, the most efficient lifting shape is a high aspect ratio. That meant wings and propellers both were long and narrow.

    Had Kress used a more efficient propeller instead or an auger, he would not have needed a larger engine. The Wright engine developed only 12 horsepower, but the propellers were efficient even by modern day standards. Kress would have still faced the problem of controlled flight. The Wrights had more controlled manned flights in their logbook than the rest of the early aviation pioneers put together. They used gliders and controllable kites to solve the problem of aerodynamic controls instead of weight shifting.

    Kress appears to have invented the joystick, but never patented it. That patent went to a Frenchman in 1907.

  41. The question of enforement of the contract is really irrelevant. The Smithsonian is not and has NEVER been concerned with the truth, accuracy, nor verifiable history. (I could point out that this is completely consistent with a typical leftist point of view, but I’m not going to go there this time.) The reality is that for those who have done genuine research into the great inventions, they know well that in a surprisingly large number of cases, the popular names asserted as the inventors, were not really the first. And the first flight is no exception.

    Similar things could be said about telephone. Alexander Graham Bell? Nope. Johann Philipp Reis, a German scientist created the first prototype in 1860, and coined the word “telephon” in 1862. Reis was probably erased from conventional history because he happened to be a Jew.

    Motion pictures? Thomas Edison? Nope. The credit for the idea should go to William Lincoln, who invented the zoopraxiscope, which made drawings appear to move. Then several inventors came up with the first motion picture technology, e.g., Auguste and Louis Lumiere, Birt Acres, Robert Paul, and others. And even when it came to Edison, it was his assistant, William Dickson, not Edison himself who developed the technology in America. But the name Edison sticks, probably because he hated Jews.

    However, when it comes to the Internet, the popular view is actually correct. For Al Gore did indeed invent the Internet, even though Google refuses to acknowledge him with a picture on their search engine on his birthday, March 31.

  42. There is less to authenticate whether the Wrights flew Dec. 17, 1903, than there is to authenticate whether Whitehead did two years earlier. What the Wrights said themselves really carries very little weight.Their witnesses would carry more. Out of five witnesses, two said they started from the hill and another was just a kid who didn’t know what was going on. Starting from a hill and lifted by a 27 mph head wind invalidates the Wrights’ flights in 1903 and they obviously knew it. Besides, their plane was not sustainable or controllable, even by the Wrights’ accounts.

    As for the Langley trials, there will be information coming out to verify that the Smithsonian’s belief that it was capable of flight prior to the Wrights is more accurate. Note that the Smithsonian never said the full size Langley model actually flew in 1903, only that it was capable. There were two (only) accidents in launching, which didn’t/don’t invalidate the Langley plane itself. The Smithsonian lost its integrity when it caved to the Wright/Brewer extortion-like act of sending the “Wright Flyer” to England by publishing a paper, listing modifications made in the Langley plane when Curtiss flew it in 1914. The paper, written essentially by Wright and Fred Kelly, was deliberately misleading. It implied that the plane couldn’t have flown without the Curtiss modifications. Actually, the modifications didn’t invalidate the Langley plane–they actually helped prove that it could have flown. Re-visit your history–go back to the sources. The 1948 contract was very much an outgrowth of the Langley claim, if you’ll bother to connect the dots.

  43. To answer a few of the comment above:
    1. Whitehead did fly repeatedly in 1901-1908. It is a false statement that he stopped flying, perpetrated most often by Smithsonian, which can be relied upon for false statements in all things concerning “first flight”, for the past 100+ years. Why should they stop now? No acountability for them, yet.
    2. Orville Wright and his close, highly placed friends had been fighting the Whitehead claim for the previous 13 years, ever since Stella Randolph published several articles and a book about Gustave Whitehead in the 1930’s. A collusion between Wright and his buddies produced the heavily biased Orville Wright article on Whitehead “‘The Mythical Whitehead Flight”, published in U.S. Air Services magazine in 1945.
    3. Since Wright was well-aware of the threat to his personal stake in being named “first in flight” (ahead of his brother who actually had the only flight recognized as successful by the Wrights and others they influenced, of the first decade), he and his heirs saw to it that Whitehead and all other contenders would be prevented from recognition, in perpetuity, in order to keep the Wright Flyer. It was definitely NOT just because of the Langley claim. They were killing all contender birds with one stone, including the strongest, Whitehead.
    4. Much more sordid conduct went on behind the scenes with the Wrights, from 1903 forward, to stake their claim on “first in flight” which brought them broad patent rights and nearly a world monopoly on aviation, which is what they sought.
    Learn more at:

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