Around the Airport

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Fame Whore or Half-Ass Historian?

Primary use: This plate would serve as a way to identify the gullible and uneducated.
When Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed a bill stating Gustave Whitehead as the first in powered flight, he proved himself to be little more than a circus ring-leader.  Along its way to becoming law though, someone with a conscience seems to have slipped in the exact wording.  The phrase “first in powered flight” is a subtle hat-tip acknowledgment to the truth; this wasn’t "the first flight".  As anyone associated with aviation knows, the definition of the first flight involves much more than a motor attached to something that looks like a primitive flying machine, controlled flight being among them.
And yet, even debating Whitehead as the first in flight is senseless.  The evidence used by many to claim Whitehead was first has been disproved many times by many people using the most basic of techniques.  Therefore, the claim of Whitehead as first by anyone in modern times should be seen as nothing more than evidence of a need for 15 minutes of fame or a state's desire to add a paragraph to its tourism brochures.   It’s absolutely unbelievable that any educated person can continue to believe in the Gustave theories and worse that state legislatures can be conned so easily.  As for the media, they no longer bother to verify anything.
This photo of John Brown was discovered adjacent to a Big Foot display in Roswell, NM.
Fox News reported the signing of the bill as a vindication for Australian historian John Brown, the self proclaimed Whitehead expert.  Yet apparently the folks at Fox News are a little rusty on their understanding of the definition of “historian”.  Mr. Brown, who’s recently discovered “new evidence” was largely the foundation upon which the Connecticut bill was created, has easily been discredited.  Most troubling though is the use of such “new evidence”.   When Brown lays an egg of such grand distortion at the feet of society and claims it as history, one of two things must be assumed; it is either a third-rate attempt at history or a purposeful ruse.  As Carroll Gray has documented, Brown’s newly discovered photo is nothing more than an unnecessarily grainy rendition of a clear and existing photo; a photo which has nothing to do with Whitehead’s contraptions.
When Gray, a person truly deserving the title “historian”, first laid eyes upon Brown’s new evidence, he immediately recognized the photo.  Next he contacted Craig Harwood to ask him to look for it in his collection of historical images.  And sure enough, there it was; a photo of a JJ Montgomery glider taken in California on May 21, 1905.
I implore you to go to Gray’s website to see for yourself.  After looking over the evidence, sit back and ponder that a Governor of one of the United States of America, actually signed into law a bill based on such historically flimsy evidence.  It’s no wonder then that the same legislature and Governor felt it important, in the same bill, to clarify which polka is the official Connecticut State polka.  I mean, there was all that confusion.

Getting history correct is critical.  Without it we have nothing on which to build the future.  I hope you'll contact The Governor of Ohio, The Governor of North Carolina, the leaders of NBAA, AOPA, EAA, GAMA, The Curator of The Smithsonian, Fox News, and whomever else should be on this list and tell them to urge The Governor of Connecticut to correct this ill founded revision of history.

As for Mr. Brown, he claims to have new evidence Whitehead was first.   He also says he will reveal it on August 17th.  Therefore, you should keep a few important points in mind as the date approaches.  His last "new evidence", which stirred an entire state to claim the Wright Brothers weren't first, has been shown to be a photo of a glider built by a different manufacturer yet he has refused to admit he was wrong.  This not only casts suspicion on his methods but also the spirit of his claims.  And finally, if something has truly been found to change history as every sane person thought they knew it, why does it require a carefully choreographed date weeks in the future to make it impressive?  Maybe it's an attempt to maximize the attention and profit Mr. Brown receives from his claims?

Carroll F. Gray's site

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