For Immediate Release
March 24, 2015
(937) 475-7627 (mobile)
Columbus, Ohio—The National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) on Tuesday, March 24, testified in favor of an Ohio bill that would repudiate the claim that Gustave Whitehead flew a powered airplane in Connecticut two years before Ohio’s Wright brothers flew in North Carolina.
NAHA Executive Director Tony Sculimbrene testified in a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing in favor of House Concurrent Resolution 8 (HCR 8) along with a Wright family descendent and an author of a recent book about the Wright brothers.
Sculimbrene’s testimony focused on a 2013 column by Paul Jackson, editor-in-chief of IHS Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft, which endorsed the claim despite its repeated dismissal by top aviation historians.
Sculimbrene cited a Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial which said Jackson denied through his company a request to be interviewed about his column, and he said an IHS executive he spoke with personally refused to say who he believed flew first.
“For such a bold change in history, there seems to be little willingness to defend the change by the people who are responsible for this ‘authoritative source on aviation,’ ” Sculimbrene said.
Amanda Wright Lane, great-grandniece of Wilbur and Orville Wright, said the “iconic photo” of the Wright Flyer’s first flight in 1903 as well as other records amply document that “Uncle Orv and Uncle Will were the first to fly a powered, heavier than air flying machine, they were the first to build a flying machine of practical utility, they were the first to sell an aeroplane to the U.S. government and other foreign entities, and they were the first to build a factory that launched the aviation industry.” Lane is also a NAHA trustee.
Timothy R. Gaffney, author of the The Dayton Flight Factory: The Wright Brothers and the Birth of Aviation (The History Press, 2014), also spoke in favor of the testimony.
Gaffney, who is also NAHA’s communications director and a former trustee, said Ohio has been “modest to a fault” in not promoting its aviation heritage as vigorously as North Carolina, whose “first in flight” motto has reinforced a widespread belief that the Wright brothers invented the airplane in North Carolina, not their hometown of Dayton.
Since State Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, first announced plans to sponsor the bill, “the press has started to notice Ohio and report its stake in the Whitehead issue,” Gaffney said.
To download the full testimonies, go to http://www.ohiohouse.gov/committee/transportation-and-infrastructure, click on “March 24” and click on the “Download” links under H.C.R. No. 8.
The National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) is a private, not-for-profit corporation designated by Congress as the management entity of the National Aviation Heritage Area. NAHA’s vision is for the Heritage Area to be the recognized center of aviation heritage tourism and aerospace innovation, sustaining the legacy of the Wright Brothers. The National Aviation Heritage Area is one of 49 National Heritage Areas in a program administered by the National Park Service. It encompasses eight Ohio counties—Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Clark, Warren, Champaign, Shelby and Auglaize. Visit www.aviationheritagearea.org to learn more about NAHA.