Over 100 years ago, a man with Boston roots claimed that he beat the Wright Brothers to flight. Gustave Whitehead, a German immigrant and mechanic, was hired by the Boston Aeronautical Society in 1896. Their mission included encouraging "the work of aeronautical experimenters." Whitehead built several contraptions in Boston, including a glider and an ornithopter, or a bird-like machine that attempts flight by flapping its wings. What he is most remembered for, however, is a controversial claim: he reputedly achieved a manned, powered, controlled flight in Connecticut in August 1901 — over two years before the Wright Brothers accomplished the same task at Kitty Hawk.
MIT alumni, at the Massachusetts-based company Terrafugia, are in the process of finally bringing a "flying car" to the market.