In Response to Fairfield, Connecticut, First Selectman Michael Tetreau's "State of the Town" speech 3 February 2015

The Fairfield Fantasy Continues
by Carroll F. Gray - Posted February 4, 2015

OFFER: Since First Selectman Tetreau encourages debates about The Whitehead Myth, I would be pleased to debate him, in an open public forum, perhaps The Discovery Center, at a mutually convenient time and date.

I also will respond to any questions the Fairfield Gustave Whitehead Committee might wish to ask, as well as to provide information, at their request, on what Gustave Whitehead did and did not do.

      Fairfield, Connecticut, First Selectman Mike Tetreau gave a "State of the Town" speech on Tuesday evening, February 3, 2015, during which he spoke of the formation of a "Gustave Whitehead Committee." The portion of his speech relevant to Whitehead follows :

      "Fairfield has been clearly established as the location of the first airplane flight. Fairfield First in Flight -- has a nice ring to it. We have formed a Gustave Whitehead Committee chaired by Andy Kosch to meet the challenge of planning a way for our town to honor the accomplishments of Gustave Whitehead here in Fairfield. 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. Fairfield First in Flight. This is historic. This is an event that should make us all proud.

      We really want everyone in town to join in promoting Fairfield and this milestone. I would love to see Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University competing for the right to challenge the University of North Carolina to a debate on the topic -- Gustave Whitehead was really the first to fly an airplane. I would love to see our high schools -- Ludlowe, Warde, Fairfield Prep and Notre Dame competing for the right to challenge Kitty Hawk High to a similar debate -- all as part of our ongoing efforts to promote Fairfield and have some fun."

      First Selectman Tetreau's statement that "Fairfield has been clearly established as the location of the first airplane flight." ought to have been stated as a possibility, not a fact, for the "evidence" barely has enough ooomph to lift that assumption to the level of a possibility. A better way to have said this would have been something along these lines… "Fairfield is possibly the location of one or more attempts by Gustave Whitehead to fly in his flying car."

      The intersection of local politics and history is often the source of overblown assumptions and erroneous comments, but rarely has so much political hot-air been generated from such thin "evidence."

      Tetreau should not be chided for trying to capitalize on The Whitehead Myth, that has been going on since the mid-1930's and has continued through to today, so there is nothing new in that. What is surprising is that Tetreau would bank on the underlying assumption that Whitehead did fly first, in 1901, to spur "… tourism and economic development throughout the region."

      The jeopardy in doing that is, of course, the ultimate and inevitable collapse of The Whitehead Myth.

      When that happens (and it will, again, it has happened before), everyone and everything associated with promoting The Whitehead Myth will share the sting of humiliation and embarrassment.

      One of the first rules of politics is to not go so far out on a limb that the whole tree falls over.

      First Selectman Tetreau thinks that "Fairfield First in Flight -- has a nice ring to it."

      Perhaps he ought to consider adopting "Fairfield"Fairfield - First In Flights of Fantasy" which has the ring of Truth to it.