Published Articles

Other Research


Gustave Whitehead was born Gustave Alvin Weisskopf on January 1st, 1874, in Leuterhausen, Bavaria, Germany. Growing up in the era of Otto Lilienthal, the German glider pioneer, young Weisskopf became obsessed with the idea of flying.  His Bavarian schoolmates in Hochst am Main called him "The Flyer," for his experiments  with tissue paper parachutes.  He and a schoolmate trapped birds in parks so as to study bird flight, until the police intervened (according to his brother Nicholas).  Later, in Ansbach, at the age of 13, Gustave attempted a glider flight from the roof of a building at his family's home.  The glider was his earliest known attempt at flight, and didn't bear him up, but he was not to be discouraged.  

A Short Biography

At age 13 he and his brothers Nicholas and John were orphaned, so the young Weisskopf worked his way to Brazil as a seaman. He spent four years at sea and showed great mechanical aptitude. A gift well suited for the sea. But his heart was always in the sky. He studied the flight of the sea birds. He also survived four shipwrecks, the last of which put him ashore in 1894 on the Gulf Coast near the Florida Panhandle. Young Weisskopf headed northward, taking work when he could get it and reached Boston in 1897. He got a job with the Boston Aeronautical Society. He built a biplane with flapping midwings, it failed to fly. 

Next stop was New York City, he met Louise Tuba, they were married in Buffalo, and for a short time Whitehead found employment in a buggy factory at Tonawanda, going from there shortly after the birth of his eldest daughter, Rose, to Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  From there, they moved to Pittsburgh to join friends.  In the summer of 1900, the Whitehead’s moved into 241 Pine Street in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the address from which many of Gustave's early work was completed.