Rick Perales, a member of the Ohio House of Representatives, has introduced a bill — HCR 63 — which repudiates a Connecticut law that claims the Wright brothers were not the first to fly in a powered flying machine.
The on-going flight of the actual birthplace of aviation — Dayton, Ohio, or Kill Devil Hills, N.C. — got even murkier last year when Connecticut’s governor signed an act that claims Connecticut resident, Gustave Whitehead, was first in flight.
According to officials at the National Aviation Heritage Alliance in Dayton, the Connecticut 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.”
NAHA officials add they are supporting Perales’ bill.
“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,” NAHA officials said in a statement released Dec. 20. “Ohio’s aviation heritage as the birthplace of powered flight is recognized worldwide and based on richly documented evidence.”
NAHA officials acknowledge that 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, Ohio has a duty to answer challenges to it, as North Carolina has done in prior years,” NAHA officials conclude.