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First in flight

First in flight - Banner - Winning entry #2 of 3

I like unusual stories - always clicking on the “Oddities” link on the AP Newswire, or reading the newspaper’s “News of the Weird” -
so when a banner competition was announced for Bridgeport’s first City Hall, two things came immediately to mind.

1.) My grandmother had gone to finishing school there in the 1920’s.
2.) Someone had flown a plane there very early on - supposedly before the Wright Brothers.

Only half aware of news reports that the first flight had NOT taken place in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, but right here in Connecticut,
the story fascinated me.
However, the idea seemed so fanciful and odd that at first I had dismissed it out of hand.

Whitehead’s large Albatross type glider - c. 1905 - 1906

What could have happened? How was it possible something so wrong could be so firmly planted in our nation’s historical chronicles?
It turns out a number of things had to take place to complete what would be a necessary rewrite of history.

First, there was the inventor himself, Gustave Whitehead, or Weisskopf as he was originally known in Germany before he emigrated to the United States.

Gustave Whitehead (Weisskopf)

He was shy and unassuming, and protective of his inventions.
He also invented the motor that powered the plane, known as the “Condor”.
His motors were a huge success, and were widely used during the first world war.

The day he flew the craft, known as “Number 21”, it was witnessed and reported in the Bridgeport Herald newspaper with this lithograph.

August 18, 1901 - Bridgeport Herald

The photo this image was based on was lost when the paper went out of business and its contents were sold.

Other photographs, which likely still exist, are in the archives of the Smithsonian, being kept from view from the public and researchers alike.

It turns out the Smithsonian and the Wright Brothers estate signed a legal document so the museum could acquire their plane for $1.

The agreement reads, in part, "Neither the Smithsonian Institution or its successors, nor any museum or other agency, bureau or facilities administered for the United States of America by the Smithsonian Institution or its successors shall publish or permit to be displayed a statement or label in connection with or in respect of any aircraft model or design of earlier date than the 1903 Wright Aeroplane, claiming in effect that such aircraft was capable of carrying a man under its own power in controlled flight."
from Wikipedia

One of my banner entries won and will be shown on the side of McLevy Hall in Bridgeport in January 2015.

When creating the banner design, I sought to integrate the powerful and ingenious vision the patent drawing expressed, with the whimsy and excitement these pioneers must have felt during the early days of human flight.

History is rewritten every day, and this recent discovery that Connecticut is the true home of "First in flight" underscores both our extraordinary Yankee ingenuity and indomitable immigrant heritage.

The rest of the story has yet to be written, or rewritten.

For more information on Gustave Whitehead, the first father of flight, please visit:

More about the banner competition and the winning entries.

McLevy Hall - Bridgeport’s first City Hall - built in 1854
Abraham Lincoln spoke here to a packed house, overflowing into the street, in 1860.

Press release:

In November 2014, The Connecticut Office on the Arts/Create Here Now launched a banner design competition celebrating Bridgeport's complex and important history. Winning artists' banner designs will hang as 10X22 ft banners, on the Main Street facade of McLevy Hall, calling attention to the spectacular reclamation of this historic building as well as the significant history of the city. Create Here/Now, in partnership with local sponsors, has selected a series of artworks to be hung on the exterior of McLevy Hall over a period of several months, each celebrating Connecticut artists, McLevy Hall's historic significance and Bridgeport's burgeoning renaissance. 

Incandescent History - June Bisantz
First in flight
- Harrison Judd
Buy Bridgeport - Jackie Lightfield

The first in the series is currently on viewIncandescent History, by Willimantic artist June Bisantz depicts H. Hubbell's invention of the Pull Chain Light Socket in Bridgeport in 1896. Rod Frantz, Director of CreateHereNow and lead consultant on the project, said, “June Bisantz’s design, Incandescent History, professionally matched and beautifully fulfilled the intention of the project, which was to 'present a bold, contemporary artwork depicting the storied history of McLevy Hall and/or the City of Bridgeport.”  By bringing attention to the amazing contribution of Harvey Hubbell and his family, Bisantz illustrated a chapter of Bridgeport history now little know to contemporary citizens of that city.

The second in the series - First in flight, by another Willimantic artist, Harrison Judd, showcases Bridgeport’s claim to fame as the real home of modern aviation.
Recently unearthed photos combined with eyewitness reports have firmly placed Bridgeport, Connecticut resident and inventor Gustave Whitehead as the first person to lift off under powered and controlled flight - inventing, patenting, building and flying in the world’s first modern airplane on August 14, 1901. Whitehead also built the engine which powered the plane in Bridgeport.
Paul Jackson, editor of
Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft in England states:
“The evidence can not be shaken off anymore.”
The flight occurred "more than two years before the Wrights manhandled their Flyer from its shed and flew a couple of hundred feet in a straight line after lifting off from an adjacent wooden rail hammered into the ground."
The CT General Assembly and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy have established August 14th as “Powered Flight Day”, recognizing and correcting the century old mistake.
Judd, the artist who created the banner says, “I was born and raised in Connecticut, and we have a long, proud history of invention and innovation in this state. This has been an oversight for too long, and it’s time we claim what has always been rightfully ours.

Judd, a photographer and designer, was the archivist for another CT resident, the illustrator Maurice Sendak, for over a decade and a half. 

The third in the series, Buy Bridgeport by Stamford artist Jackie Lightfield, depicts "the 1940s, when the industrial growth of Bridgeport was at its peak. The second world war, ushered patriotic pride in Bridgeport with many companies supporting the war effort. This moment in history is captured by a look down State Street between Broad and Lafayette, with Bridgeport’s “Rosie the Riveter” Marjorie Schneider smiling in the foreground as Sikorsky Corsairs fly over head. This collage reinterprets historic photos from the Bridgeport Library’s historic archives and links today’s Bridgeport with the can-do spirit of the past.”

December 2014
Harrison Judd -


New York City 1983

The memory represents to us not what we choose but what it pleases.
Michel De Montaigne - Essays

Recently I’ve been hearing from my past.

Old friends and lovers, long lost acquaintances have contacted me.
The connections have been tenuous and brief, but deeply felt.

They have rattled my dreams and colored my days,
and they have caused me to open long closed file drawers,
to encounter long lost images and memories.

This portfolio was done in New York City, late 1983.


December 2014 - photographed and written Autumn 1983
Harrison Judd -


The 84th problem


We deem those happy who from the experience of life have learnt to bear its ills without being overcome by them.
Carl Jung

The 84th problem

A man came to see the Buddha because he had heard he was a great teacher and thought perhaps the Buddha could help him with his problems.
He told the Buddha about his life, and that as a farmer sometimes there wasn’t enough rain, sometimes there was too much. Sometimes the crops failed and he and his family nearly starved. He told him how he loved his wife but that sometimes they didn’t get along so well and that his children didn’t always show him the respect he felt he deserved.
In this way he continued to lay out all his problems before the Buddha, and then waited for a response.

“I can’t help you.” said the Buddha.

“What do you mean!?” asked the farmer.

The Buddha answered, “Everyone’s got problems. In fact, we all have 83 problems, and there’s nothing you, or I, or anyone else can do about it.
If you work really hard, maybe you can fix one or two of them, but then others will immediately take their place.
You’re going to lose your loved ones, and you’re going to die someday - now there’s a problem, and there’s nothing you or I or anyone else can do about it.”

The man was enraged. “I thought you were a great teacher who could help me! What good is your teaching anyway?”

“Well, maybe I can help you with the 84th problem.”

“What’s the 84th problem?”

“You want to have no problems.”

Click here for images

December 2014
Harrison Judd -



Sailor, Bather, Girl - Anonymous

“it is a mistake, this extreme precision, this orderly and military progress; a convenience, a lie.
There is always deep below it,
even when we arrive punctually at the appointed time
with our white waistcoats and polite formalities,
a rushing stream of broken dreams,
nursery rhymes, street cries,
half-finished sentences and sights -
elm trees, willow tress, gardeners sweeping,
women writing -
that rise and sink...”

Virginia Woolf -
The Waves

These images are digital prints of negatives I bought at various times and places - mostly flea markets.
They are all anonymous. Unknown people, photographed by unknown photographers.
Taken at a time, when our relationship
to time - was kinder, slower.

Click here for images

November 2014
Harrison Judd -