It's What's In The News

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I love scanning World, U.S. and local Texas news headlines. For the most part, I can read a headline and decide, do I want to read the rest of the story? This method has served me for years, as I hunt the strange and unusual headlines for that little tidbit of fact that catches my attention.
For example, here’s one you may have missed. If you are a fan of the Julia Robert’s blockbuster “Erin Brockovich” then you know the movie is based on a true story. A real life-compelling story of a woman that beat the odds and utility company for one of the largest settlements in civil court. A real activist that fights the good fight for a lot of people. A mother and law clerk whose story was so compelling, a movie was made. Mrs. Brockovich-Ellis was recently arrested for DUI boating at the Boat Harbor, Las Vegas. Seems she had twice the legal limit at Lake Mead and was having difficulties parking her boat. She was released on a $1,000 bond. Makes you think about the sequel.
Here’s another you may have missed. According to CNN, the Wright Brother’s may not be the first to fly an airplane. Depicted on a postage stamp, thousands of tourist to Kitty Hawk monthly and a claim we have grown and learned from history books for more than 100 years. Now, it just may all be wrong. Connecticut state lawmakers passed a bill this week to honor Gustave Whitehead who they claim beat the Wrights by two years.
According to a 1901 Connecticut newspaper account, Whitehead, a German immigrant flew his aircraft 150 feet in the air for about half a mile over the city of Bridgeport.
As you can imagine, the Smithsonian Institute is beside themselves with grief and have issued statements debunking these claims. Turns out that in the contract signed by the heirs of the Wright Family name, should the Smithsonian Institute ever dispute the claim of the Wright Brothers, the institute would have to return the plane, a centerpiece at the Institute.
“There is no legitimacy to the claim,” says Tom Crouch, the Smithsonian’s aviation historian. “Justice is at risk. Credit should go where credit is deserved.”
A photo of Whiteheads flight has recently resurfaced and is at the heart of the arial commotion. While the photo itself is not definitive proof of the flight, not to mention a bit blurry and hard to make out. Australian aviation historian, John Brown, found the photograph in a museum attic.
Brown agrees that the blurry image fails to offer definitive proof. Brown has been focusing on establishing the credibility of journalists and witness reports from the 1901 flight. Journalists in the 1930s and afterward-interviewed 17 witnesses who said they saw Whitehead flying, Brown says. The stories by 14 of those witnesses were notarized. Based on his research, Brown believes Whitehead did indeed fly before the Wrights.
The bill, authored by Connecticut Rep. Charles Clemons Jr., acknowledges that if the claim is founded, that it would mean a new stream of revenue for his town of Bridgeport, which is also know for another flying object, the Frisbee though there is a little dispute going on over that claim as well.
While this story is still developing, there is no doubt that history, as we know it, could come crashing down, metaphorically speaking that is. We will leave this one to the historians to figure out.

Dennis Phillips / Publisher
Robertson County News

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