Stella Randolph

Stella Randolph

Stella Randolph was a lawyer who did most of her work for charitable organisations. After being given an old newspaper clipping about Gustave Whitehead, she became curious and started to investigate. She went to Bridgeport and Pittsburgh, found witnesses of Whitehead's flights, collected their statements under oath, and went on to find artifacts including an engine, aircraft parts and glass plate negatives. She then published three books on the subject, each of them leading to calls for Whitehead's recognition as the first person to have made a powered, sustained, controled flight.  

Maj. William O'Dwyer

Maj. William O'Dwyer

William O'Dwyer was a pilot in the United States Air Force. One day, when helping a friend clean out an attic in Bridgeport, he discovered old photos of an airplane Whitehead had built. Curious, he started researching the subject. He teamed up with Stella Randolph and continued where she'd left off, gathering further witness statements and - most of all - exploring the reasons for why Whitehead had not been given recognition for his achievements. A side remark at a gathering of aviation experts tipped him off to the existence of a secret contract the Wrights' heirs had secured with the Smithsonian Institute, whereby the Museum committed itself to stating noone had flown before Dec. 17, 1903. O'Dwyer's efforts culminated in Whitehead's recognition as "Father of Flight" by the State of Connecticut. 

Col. Walter Prüfert

Col. Walter Prüfert

Walter Prüfert was a pilot in the German Air Force. Upon retirement, he continued his aviation passion by reseaching all areas of aviation history, not merely those involving Gustave Whitehead. Upon finding several unknown, early references to Whitehead, he made contact with the Gustav Weißkopf Museum and with Bill O'Dwyer in the United States and made his research available to them. He was instrumental in filling in many of the blanks in the early history of Whitehead.

John Brown

John Brown

John Brown, born in Australia of British parents, completed High School in Chicago, graduated from the New York Institute of Photography in 1981, and got his FAA Commercial and Flight Instructor Licenses in 1984 in Florida. John’s currently Project Manager for a German aircraft producer.

 

Early 2012, John was hired as an expert on roadable aircraft to appear in a Smithsonian Channel documentary (first air-dates: Apr. 13 & 20, 2013) and was flown to Washington DC. It was while researching this subject that he became aware of Whitehead - who had designed and built the first roadable aircraft. And in discussions with the Smithsonian's Chief Historian there in May 2012, he became aware of the controversy involved with Whitehead's legacy and decided to investigate further. In the course of his ongoing research, he discovered more than 400 old newspaper articles, more than 100 of which described pre 1903 powered flights by Whitehead. He sent them to both the Gustav Weißkopf Museum and the Smithsonian Institute, reccommending further action. 

 

However, it was only when the Gustav Weißkopf Museum's staff indicated it lacked the resources to follow up on his discoveries and the Smithsonian expressed little interest, that John decided to conduct a full investigation beyond the scope of the roadability of Whitehead's aircraft, and addressing the issue of first flight.

 

Upon completion of his research, John sent his findings - including evidence of the existence of a photo of Whitehead in powered flight - to aviation history's highest authority, "Jane's All the World's Aircraft". After an examination of the material, Jane's concurred with John's findings, culminating on March 8, 2013, in the official recognition of Gustave Whitehead as the first person in history to have performed a powered, sustained, controled flight on August 14, 1901.