Joseph D. Ratzenberger
Original Content Is © 2013 - Carroll F. Gray


Affidavit, January 28, 1936

I, Joe Ratzenberger, residing at 195 Princeton Street, Bridgeport, Connecticut, declare the following to be fact, to the best of my knowledge and belief:

I remember very well one of the early planes constructed by Gustave Whitehead (illustrated by Nos. 2; 2-A; 2-B; 2-C), constructed in his shop on Cherry Street, back of Hancock Avenue. I recall a time, which I think was probably July or August of 1901 or 1902, when this plane was started in flight on the lot between Pine and Cherry Streets. The plane flew at a height of about twelve feet from the ground, I should judge, and travelled the distance to Bostwick Avenue before it came to the ground. I recall the incident very well because I was one of several boys who clung to the back of the plane as it rose into the air and carried us off our feet until we were driven away by some of the men working with Gustave Whitehead. This plane had folding wings constructed on bamboo poles. I know that it had a motor in it for I recall the noise that it made. It was a boat shaped plane and traveled on the ground on wheels.

I recall other planes constructed by Gustave Whitehead which he tested by attaching them to a stake in his yard and letting the motor drive them so that they were kept going about in a circle.

I did not see a flight that was made at Black Rock, but recall very well having been told about the flight and that the plane landed in the water. The boys of our crowd flocked out to Sandy Beach to see it but it was not taken up again on that particular day.

Signed, Sworn & Witnessed

Stella Randolph typed notes, January 4, 1936

Then I went to see Mr. Ratzenberger, a policeman, living at 195 Princetone Street. He was glad to tell me what he knew about Whitehead. He said he thought it must have been about July or August 1901 or 1902, he sae (sic) an airplane of Gustave Whitehead's fly a short distance . This plane had been constructed in the shop on Cherry Street. He had a shop at the back of Hancock Avenue where it was built. He recalled seeing Whitehead fly his planes attached to a stake fastened to the ground with concrete. He said Whitehead always made his own motors. He knew, but not through having seen it, that Whitehead took his plane to Black Rock and flew it, and that it landed in the water. He said the boys flocked out to Sandy Beach to see it as soon as they heard about it, but Whitehead didn't take it up again that day so far as he knew.

Stella Randolph typed notes, January 4, 1936

Linde and Julius Harvath (sic) worked with him, and also Mrs. Whitehead. "We boys used to look in the windows, and I remember often seeing her in the shop."