In the 1980s-90s two flying “replicas” of the Whitehead No 21 were built, one in Germany and this one, designated “No 21A”, in the USA. Although both were flown, structural and aerodynamic differences, plus the use of modern powerplants, mean that they cannot be regarded as proof that the original aircraft was capable of flight.
The original of the view, in which Whitehead poses with his small daughter Rose, was retouched at some point to remove a tree in the background behind the port wing.
Густав Уайтхед с дочкой на фоне своего самолета в 1901г. Он так и не смог доказать, что летал.
In this letter printed in The American Inventor of April 1, 1902, Whitehead claimed to have flown for two miles and seven miles in his “No 22” monoplane, of which no image is known (the No 21 is shown here)
Rear view of Whitehead’s bat-winged No 21 monoplane of 1901, in which it is claimed he flew on August 14, 1901.
WHEN CONSIDERING primary source material, it can be vital to examine it in context, not just in isolation. In the case of the Bridgeport Sunday Herald, such an approach is illuminating. The story, referred to in this article, appeared on page 5 of the August 18, 1901 edition. Research in the paper’s archives shows that the “page 5 story” was often sensational and, as early-aviation historian Nick Engler says, “walked the line between fact and fancy”
A side-elevation drawing of Whitehead’s No 21 aircraft by Bjorn Karlstrom, showing the engine position and the bowsprit-and-kingpost bracing system. Note the complete lack of fixed or movable vertical tail surfaces.