for National Geographic News
Published May 3, 2013
An iconic piece of American history took a nosedive when the 100th-anniversary issue of an annual aviation bible known as Jane's All the World's Aircraft displaced the Wright brothers as the first fathers of flight.
The new name in town is Gustave Whitehead, a German-born inventor many have long believed took to the air more than two years before Orville and Wilbur even left the ground at Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903.
But while new research from an Australian aviation expert convinced Jane's editors it was time to update the books, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.—home to the original Wright Flyer—remains skeptical about Whitehead's work, which it views as mostly myth. The Aeronautics Division's senior curator—author and Wright expert Dr. Tom Crouch—believes Jane's was "hoodwinked."
Still, longtime Whitehead supporters are elated about the latest development. Many think the Smithsonian's indebtedness to the Wrights' legacy—which it even holds in contract with the brothers' heirs—prevents the institution from acknowledging the indisputable facts of Whitehead's pioneering work."
Link to Original Source