THE BLOG

Jane's Points Finger at Editor

04/23/2015 05:02 pm ET | Updated Jun 22, 2015

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It seems someone at IHS/Jane's Information Group has been paying attention to the Huffington Post, and in particular to our posting of January 26th, "Editor/Aviation Historian Fails To Fly."

Earlier this month, IHS/Jane's Information Group (owner and publisher of Jane's All The World's Aircraft) disowned the notorious editorial written in March 2013 by the Editor of Jane's, Paul Jackson, which proclaimed that Gustave Whitehead had made the "First Flight," some two years before Wilbur and Orville Wright's epic flights.

The public statement by IHS/Jane's Information Group reads...

In March 2013, IHS Jane's All The World's Aircraft Editor Paul Jackson wrote an article based on recently discovered data recognizing Gustave Whitehead - not the Wright Brothers- as first to make a manned, powered, controlled flight.

The article was intended to stimulate discussion about first in flight. The article reflected Mr. Jackson's opinion on the issue and not that of IHS Jane's.

IHS Jane's recognizes and respects that there are differing views on this historical analysis and IHS makes no argument about the success of the Wright Brothers, who hold their rightful place in history as aviation pioneers and heroes.

As an organization that values impartiality and balance, IHS Jane's made several offers to supporters of the Wright brothers to provide a counter piece to Mr. Jackson's article, but no one accepted the opportunity.

This is a remarkable event, since previously many Whitehead advocates had touted Jackson's editorial as evidence that the prestigious Jane's All The World's Aircraft had anointed Whitehead as "First to Fly."

After this IHS/Jane's Information Group statement, that can no longer be said to be true... the editorial was only editor Jackson's personal opinion, not the view of Jane's All The World's Aircraft.

The now disowned editorial (the text of the editorial along with comments by this writer, can be read here) and the now thoroughly discredited 2013 proclamation by Whitehead advocate John Brown that he had identified a "blurry photo" showing Whitehead in flight aboard his No. 21 machine had been the two lynchpins of the current flurry of discussion about "Gus" Whitehead's role in aviation history. (The photo has been identified as being a John J. Montgomery glider on display in May of 1905.)

Those two items had also been the primary reasons for Connecticut legislators and Connecticut Gov. Malloy passing and signing legislation upholding Whitehead as First to Fly.

In 2013, prompted by the Jane's editorial and the "blurry photo" Gov. Malloy signed legislation declaring "Powered Flight Day to honor the first powered flight by Whitehead and to commemorate the Connecticut aviation and aerospace industry."

In 2014, the Connecticut legislature passed Joint Resolution 87 to recognize "Connecticut as the location of the first manned, controlled flight of a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft."

This year, Connecticut State Senator Kevin Kelly's (R-Stratford) Bill (SB 772) would have established August 14th as "Gustave Whitehead Day" in Connecticut, "to honor aviation pioneer Gustave Whitehead, the first man to make a manned, powered, controlled flight."

Kelly's SB 772, failed to be voted out of committee.

Both reasons for those legislative actions have now evaporated, leaving the State of Connecticut in a very uncomfortable position.

Responsible politicians might have explored the matter more fully before jumping on the Whitehead bandwagon and rushing to pass legislation, that certainly would have saved Gov. Malloy and other elected officials in Connecticut their current and coming embarrassment.

(Thanks to NAHA for providing the full text of the IHS statement)

(An informal survey of the most prominent Wright supporters and aviation historians in the U.S. and UK has failed to turn up any group or person who has been invited by IHS/Jane's to provide the "counter piece" mentioned in the IHS/Jane's statement -- it's a mystery to whom they are referring -- inquiries are being made to resolve this mystery.)

(Should IHS/Jane's Information Group, Conn. State Sen. Kelly or Gov. Malloy choose to comment on this article, their responses will be posted here.)