December 29, 2014
Timothy R. Gaffney
Director of Communications
(937) 219-8277 (mobile)
The Connecticut Post on Monday, Dec. 29, published an article about a bill introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives by Ohio Rep. Rick Perales. The bill, HCR 63, would repudiate a Connecticut law that claims the Wright brothers of Dayton, Ohio, were not the first to fly in a powered flying machine. In response to the article, the National Aviation Heritage Alliance has released the following statement:
Dayton, Ohio, December 29, 2014—The National Aviation Heritage Alliance supports Ohio Rep. Rick Perales’ bill, HCR 63, repudiating Connecticut’s claim that Ohioans Wilbur and Orville Wright were not the first in powered flight.
Last year, Connecticut’s governor signed an act that seeks to rewrite history by eliminating the Wright brothers and substituting a Connecticut resident, Gustave Whitehead, as first in flight. The law cites no factual evidence to support its claim, and it ignores mountains of contradicting evidence, including a statement signed by 34 historians, archivists, authors and others that said the available evidence “fails to support the claim that Gustave Whitehead made sustained, powered, controlled flights prior to the Wright brothers.”
It might seem frivolous to respond to such an insubstantial claim, but the widespread, uncritical and sometimes favorable press coverage Connecticut’s legislation generated demands it. Ohio’s aviation heritage as the birthplace of powered flight is recognized worldwide and based on richly documented evidence.
It’s a heritage Ohio shares with North Carolina, where the Wright brothers experimented with gliders before making their first powered flights at Kitty Hawk on Dec. 17, 1903. Not simply for its own reputation but to defend the historical record, Oho has a duty to answer challenges to it, as North Carolina has done in prior years.
The Alliance thanks Mr. Perales and the bill’s co-sponsors for taking on this task for Ohio, and we urge all legislators to support it.
About the Wright brothers
Wilbur and Orville Wright invented the airplane in their West Dayton bicycle shop and tested it on the Outer Banks of North Carolina at Kitty Hawk. Historians worldwide consider Orville’s 12-second flight on Dec. 17, 1903 to be the first sustained, controlled flight in a powered, heavier-than-air aircraft. The photograph of Orville airborne in the Flyer is considered one of the world’s most iconic images.
About the National Aviation Heritage Alliance
The National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) is the federally designated management entity for the National Aviation Heritage Area, which includes Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Clark, Warren, Champaign, Shelby and Auglaize counties in southwestern Ohio. It is one of 49 Areas in the National Park Service’s National Heritage Area program and the only one dedicated to aviation heritage.