Tourists Mean More Than Facts to Connecticut Lawmakers

What Is In The Water At Bridgeport & Fairfield
At The State House In Hartford ?

Editorial Opinion by Carroll F. Gray
Posted and © February 15, 2015

      Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau, earlier this month : "I have asked that the Committee also work with Bridgeport and Stratford to integrate our efforts into an initiative called the Whitehead Trail to boost tourism and economic development throughout the region."

      It's apparent that the elected officials in Connecticut see that money can be squeezed from the Whitehead Myth, which is deeply ironic given that Gustave "Gus" Whitehead died in utter abject poverty and left his family impoverished.

      It's as if the local and state politicians in Connecticut are saying 'Facts be damned, there are tourist dollars to wring from the Whitehead Myth. Heck, Whitehead can even be a lynchpin in economic development throughout the region !'

      The degree of cynicism of that attitude is difficult to fully comprehend.

      If there were a factual basis for this initiative, the politicians could - perhaps - be forgiven for seizing on the Whitehead story as a moneymaker - but, as the numerous articles on this web site document, there is no factual basis for believing Gustave Whitehead flew in 1901 or 1902 or - indeed - that he ever flew.

      It is faith, after all, not facts, that swells the Whitehead Myth into the current full-blown revenue frenzy.

      What can Whitehead Advocates hang their faith on ? As do many who live lives by faith, they point animatedly to the printed word… in this instance, the 'bible' of the aerospace industry, that well-known commercial reference annual Jane's All The World's Aircraft.

      However, to be honest, they should say that what they really are basing their faith and trust on is an editorial by one person, not the publication itself. As the editor who wrote that ill-informed editorial is always quick to point out, it was his opinion and his opinion alone that he injected into that editorial, it was not a statement of some policy position of Jane's All The World's Aircraft, the publication. They might also be honest about what Jane's All The World's Aircraft is and is not. One thing it is not is a journal of history.

      Consider, for a moment, what would happen if the editor of Jane's All The World's Aircraft were to retract his Whitehead editorial - what would be left of the current Whitehead kerfuffle then ?

      Then there is the matter of the actual "Whitehead Trail." I doubt that Fairfield's First Selectman Tetreau meant to be quite so precise in his use of language when he suggested "an initiative called the Whitehead Trail." It seems to me that he was being unintentionally accurate, since Whitehead apparently drove - rather than flew - hither and yon in his creation.

      While Whitehead likely rolled along the ground in his winged "automobile" (as he, Whitehead, called it), he never flew in it. So, to anoint a Whitehead Trail seems totally appropriate. Perhaps, the 1901 route Whitehead drove in his earthbound No. 21 from his home on Pine St. to that legendary place - "a spot beyond Fairfield" - could be the first leg of the Whitehead Trail, and, perhaps, a group of Whitehead Advocates might wish to duplicate the dead-of-wintertime 7-mile adventure Whitehead claimed to have had - and survived - over or in Long Island Sound in 1902… there's money to be made, First Selectman Tetreau, in the sale of long underwear, foul weather gear and life preservers for that jaunt.