John S. Lesko
Original Content Is © 2013 - Carroll F. Gray

LESKO, John S.

September 24, 1934

I, John S. Lesko, residing at 326 Hancock Avenue, Bridgeport Connecticut do depose and say that I was personally acquainted with the late Gustave Whitehead, and was associated with him [(or employed) struck thru] during his experiments with heavier than air flying machines.

On about September 1901 I was present on the occasion when Mr. Whitehead succeeded in flying his machine, propelled by motor, on a flight of [("four feet") x'd out] 50 ft intervals [typed in] distance, at about four feet off the ground for a length of time approximating a few seconds at a time.

The type of machine used by Mr. Whitehead was a monoplane. The wing ribs were constructed of bamboo poles shaped like a birds wing. Mr. Whitehead called this plane "The Bird". I understand that this plane was later exhibited at the St. Louis World's Fair. This machine was propelled by a four cylinder gasoline engine.

Signed, Sworn and Witnessed

January 4, 1936 I, John Lesko, conducting business at 328 Hancock Avenue, Bridgeport Connecticut, declare the following to be fact to the best of my knowledge and

I recall very distinctly the work of Gustave Whitehead with airplanes in the period 1900 to 1905 when he lived on Pine Street. He started at one time to build a runway of concrete in the vicinity of the present St. Stephenís School. My family used to have a restaurant and an old horse and wagon. Many a time we used the horse to pull the ìbirdî as Mr. Whitehead called his machine, to give it a start. He never finished the runway because he could not get permission from the owner of the land to use it. Many times the children of the community would turn out and lend a hand to give the ìbirdî a start.Mr. Whitehead flew his folding winged plane in August, 1902 on Fairfield Avenue, and again a little later at Gypsy Spring. Gypsy Spring was a part with a steep hill that would give the plane a good start. Mr. Whitehead used to construct the planes as gliders first, then put motors into them.Junius Harworth should remember well about the planes, he was in many a ìscrapeî. Once he started the propellers down in the meadows. He could not see ahead, and crashed over the dyke. Harworth slid about a hundred feet before his stopped.Once Whitehead tested a motor in a boat, but could not stop the engine. The ignition and carburetor pulled loose and there was no way to shut off the motor. There were four men in the boat. Mr. Whitehead shouted, "Hold on, we are going ashore." And we did.Mr. Whitehead used to make his own motors. He would go to the shop and get a solid block of iron and go home and construct the motor from it. He used to get this material from the shop which is now the Heppenstal Company.

Signed and Witnessed

Letter, Junius W. Harworth to Ernest L. Jones, April 22, 1950

(re: Whitehead No. 21 monoplane appearing at St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition) No. However we talked of this for a long time and studied plans to sail up the Hudson, the Great Lakes and on down the Miss. river.

Johnny Lesko is correct as is W, for W had a habit of experimenting and often I witnessed him change his motors from one fuel to another, all wthin a day or so. Before going to school, I would see him dismantle his 'gas mixers' and attache an acetylene 'mixer'. He always referred to them as mixers in stead (sic) of carburetors etc.

December 17, 1963, recorded interview, O'Dwyer and Erik Hildes-Heim

The single-propeller, folding-wing plane, taken to Lordship "… on the right-hand side there was marsh, salt weeds, covering the whole thing, and to us it looked level. He started up and got going a pretty good speed, and Junius, the fellow that was helping him, couldn't see the dike, for the seaweeds. One of the wheels hit the dike, and knocked it all to pieces. We had to put everything back as junk in the wagon and pull it home."