Who flew first? Order the new book “Gustave Whitehead: First in Flight” to find out!
On October 31, 2013, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request was sent to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (NASM)‘s Head Curator Tom Crouch, to obtain documents pertaining to the Smithsonian Wright Agreement of 1948, whereby Smithsonian obtained the Wright Flyer for $1 and the Orville Wright heirs were allowed a significant estate tax benefit.
The agreement, often referred to as “the Contract”, essentially requires Smithsonian and all its affiliates, to recognize the Wright Flyer as the first airplane that flew with power, and Orville Wright as the first successful aviator. If the Contract is broken, the Wright Flyer, the most popular exhibit at the Smithsonian, returns to the heirs. The Contract, originally kept secret from the public, was learned of and obtained by Major William J. O’Dwyer (USAF, ret.), with the help of then-Senator Lowell Weiker, Jr., in 1976.
This FOIA was submitted by a resident of Connecticut.