Late Rep. Larry Miller lives on, in Gustave Whitehead commemoration

February 10, 2015

Article as it appeared on Ken Dixon’s Blog-O-Rama

Harkening back to the late state Rep. Larry Miller of Stratford (left), Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford wants to designate August 14 as Gustave Whitehead, First in Flight, Day. Kelly today submitted testimony to the legislative Transportation Committee supporting his bill. “Gustave Whitehead is an important part of Bridgeport history, Connecticut history, and our nation’s history,” Kelly wrote. “As an aviation pioneer who came to the United States from Germany in 1893, he embodied the American dream and Connecticut spirit of innovation. He also became the first man to make a manned, powered, controlled flight on August 14, 1901 near Bridgeport, Connecticut.”

Many believe Whitehead was actually the first person to take flight, approximately two years before the Wright brothers from Dayton, Ohio flew in Kitty Hawk, N.C. In 2013 the “Jane’s All the World Airplanes” encyclopedia named Whitehead first in flight and the General Assembly, at Miller’s prodding, created Powered Flight Day to honor Whitehead. Last year, the state passed a resolution declaring Connecticut was first in flight. Miller died in May of last year.

“After Larry’s passing, Connecticut now must continue to work to ensure that the true aviation history is honored and remembered,” said Sen. Kelly, “I am proposing this legislation to further this recognition and celebration of Whitehead by commemorating the exact day of Whitehead’s first flight.”

Kelly, below, is also sponsoring legislation that would declare Whitehead’s “Number 21” plane the state’s “pioneering aircraft.”