The Connecticut Post today 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.