Elizabeth Koteles
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KOTELES, Elizabeth

Affidavit, August 1, 1974

To Whom It May Concern,

I, Elizabeth Koteles, declare and testify that I witnessed one of the experimental tests of an aircraft built and designed by the late Gustave Whitehead, during that period of my life when my husband and I lived as neighbors to Mr. Whitehead on Pine Street, Bridgeport, Connecticut.

It was during our early married life and after we had moved from Hancock Avenue that Whitehead also moved into the Pine Street area. Shortly after his arrival he began to build aircraft and engines in his rear yard. His rear yard bordered our yard. These were homes where we rented from landlords.

One day, not long after Whitehead had built his airplane, and as close as I can recall it was around 1901, my husband asked me to walk with him up to Tunxis Hill, to watch Whitehead fly his airplane.

The location of the experiment, as I now understand it to be, was in the Gypsy Springs section of that hill in the general park area of Villa Park. The area where the aircraft was tested was on the level portion, mid-hill, approximately where the present shopping center is located and now known as Topps. We stood at the side of the road and looked over the stone wall onto that field. The craft was just beyond the wall. I can only recall one of the men present was Gustave Whitehead who occupied the aircraft. There were at least two other men whom I cannot, at this date, identify or recall by name. The craft lifted off the ground during one experiment to an elevation of approximately 4 or 5 feet, and I doubt it was over 6 feet. It flew for a distance of approximately 150 to 250 feet before landing. There was no damage to either the aircraft, or Mr. Whitehead. As I recall it, it was a short flight and much less than we had expected to see. That was the only time I ever saw him test the plane or watch it fly. If there were other times I did not see them.

Mr. and Mrs. Whitehead were customers in our store and always paid cash. They were nice people. Very nice.

I response to your question, "Was the ground level ?" I can recall it was level and that the ground was smooth, like a park field, and covered with grass.

Signed, and Witnessed by daughter

Affidavit, August 1, 1974

In closing this statement, and before signing this Statement document for Mr. William J. O'Dwyer, Major, U.S. Air Force Reserve, I want to declare that the words contained in this statement have been read to me by my daughter, Mrs. Ida (Koteles) Berecz, in both English and in translated (oral) Hungarian, and that this letter Statement is true and correct to the best of my recollection as a former immediate neighbor of the late Gustave Whitehead.

I further swear that I had never read either of Miss Stella Randolph's books or any newspaper of magazine articles about Mr. Whitehead prior to my having met Mr. O'Dwyer and that their interview of me this past February 1974 was the first time I had ever been asked to recall those events for any history records, other than those times when I would speak about those memories to my family and children over the years. The testimony I gave to Mr. O'Dwyer, Mr. Jesse Davidson, and Mr. Lippincott and Mr. Robert Thompson during the television taped interview was done to help in the research of Mr. Whitehead. Lastly, the craft we saw flying - or being tested - at Tunxis Hill in 1901 was, to the best of my recollection and memory, the craft shown to me in the photographs presented for my viewing by Mr. O'Dwyer, and which they say was Number 21.

Signed, and Witnessed by daughter and son-in-law, and Wm. J. O'Dwyer

History by Contract, O'Dwyer & Randolph, 1978, p. 251

Miss Randolph met Mrs. Koteles, for the very first and only time, on February 13, 1974 (sic). She added her own questions which were to result with the same humble replies. At this meeting the questions of February 2, 1976 (sic), were again posted, at the excellent suggestion by my son, Bill R. O'Dwyer, in Hungarian language. Her testimony remained as before: "He flew from level ground. It was before 1903. I saw him demonstrate his airplane in 1901. It was on Tunxis Hill at Villa Park."

"Yes, that was the machine." Mrs. Koteles said as she came upon the photo of Number 21. She had no assistance. It was just one of many photos she selected. She could also identify Whitehead and his wife. Mrs. Koteles died in late 1974.