Sketch allegedly based on a now lost photograph of the alleged Gustave Whitehead 1901 first flight.
Actual photograph of the Wright Brothers first flight.
I find it sufficiently surprising that anyone would fail to photograph as historic an event as an actual first controlled powered flight that I am not willing to accept the Whitehead claims. We know the Wrights did it - see the photos, see the video, see the numerous contemporary accounts - it happened.
That thing would never fly unless the airfoils on the paddle wheel had some kind of cyclic pitch control. Even with that, it doesn’t look like it would fly. No way could those propellers generate enough thrust (IMHO) and the thing looks like it would stall instantly.
In the drawing, it looked like it had steam boat style paddle wheels. It has propellers. Still, those wings would tear right off.