Photo of William Burnett (left) and Ohio Rep. Rick Perales with Burnett's proposed state seal design.
William Burnett (left) and Ohio Rep. Rick Perales with Burnett’s proposed state seal design.

House panel hears case for Wright Flyer on Seal of Ohio

In NAHA News /

COLUMBUS, Ohio—Adding a Wright Flyer to the Great Seal of Ohio would help brand the state as an “aviation and aerospace powerhouse” without hurting the seal’s design, the sponsor of a bill to make the change told a House panel on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

Ohio Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, testified in favor of House Bill 386 before the House State Government Committee, of which he is also a member. Ohio should add the famous flyer to the state’s seal because “there is no icon of innovation that is more associated with a state, than the Wright Flyer is with Ohio,” he said in prepared testimony submitted to the committee.

“There are many states that can declare their strength in agriculture or the natural beauty of their terrain, however only Ohio can legitimately claim to be the birthplace of heavier than air, powered flight. Adding the Wright Flyer to the state seal is the best way to brand Ohio as the aviation and aerospace powerhouse it has been, and always will be,” Perales added.

Perales chairs the Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Technology Committee (OAATC). He said one of OAATC’s five “focus areas” is outreach and branding Ohio as an aerospace and aviation industry leader. “This working group, led by (former NASA) astronaut Mark Brown, has recommended this legislation as part of long term strategy to promote Ohio’s rich aviation heritage and our continuing national and international leadership in the aerospace and aviation sectors,” Perales said.

Ohio already produces $7.6 billion in Gross State Product in the aerospace and aviation sector, and research and development—mainly at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland—accounts for more than $9 billion, he said.

Perales said the bill won’t be a cost to the state because it would require government offices to use up existing supplies that carry the state seal before acquiring supplies with the new design.

The idea of putting a Wright Flyer in the sky on the state seal originated with William Burnett of Oakwood, who in the late 1990s created the design Perales has proposed. Several attempts to pass a bill in the legislature have failed. Perales said he thinks the time is right now because of the state’s interest in its aerospace industry. His bill has 40 co-sponsors.