lame it on “alternative facts.” Or maybe it was “fake news” — the 1930s version, anyway. It turns out that the controversy over competing claims of who really was first to fly — the Wright brothers in 1903 or German-born immigrant inventor Gustave Whitehead two years earlier — can be traced to a, let’s call it “problematic,” article that appeared in the January 1935 issue of this magazine, back when it was known by its original name, Popular Aviation. The assertions put forth in the lengthy article and repeated for decades by Whitehead supporters seek to prove that the itinerant tinkerer and amateur aeronautical engineer, living in Bridgeport, Connecticut, piloted a heavier-than-air flying machine in 1901, well before the Wright brothers at Kitty Hawk. If not for the Popular Aviation article, however, no dispute likely would exist. There is scant evidence to back up the idea that Whitehead flew first, not to mention indications of clear exaggerations by supposed witnesses to his flights. The fantastical stories quietly faded into obscurity in the early 1900s, just as the Wrights’ stature was growing. Glenn Curtiss briefly resurrected the controversy in 1913 when he unsuccessfully used the Whitehead accounts in the “patent wars” with the Wrights in an attempt to prove that his adversaries weren’t the first to fly. A court found the evidence lacking, and there the matter was put to rest.