An Ohio resolution repudiating the claim that Connecticut’s Gustave Whitehead flew before Ohio’s Wright brothers is headed to the state’s Senate floor following its passage on Oct. 21 by a senate committee.
The Senate Government Oversight and Reform Committee approved House Concurrent Resolution 8 following testimony by Amanda Wright Lane of Cincinnati, great-grandniece of Wilbur and Orville Wright, and others.
Without naming Whitehead, Lane said the “meticulous work” of Wilbur and Orville Wright is supported by a “documented historical record,” while the first-in-flight claims of “others” are not.
“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 said.
Lane is also a member of the National Aviation Heritage Alliance’s (NAHA’s) board of trustees.
William Vorys, speaking for the Cleveland-based Ohio Aerospace Institute, also testified in favor of the bill.
“As a leader in aerospace and aviation technology in Ohio, we find it important that aeronautical history be accurate and truthful. We believe there is no evidence that Gustave Whitehead ever designed, built, and flew a successful flying machine,” Vorys said.
Timothy R. Gaffney, NAHA’s director of communications, testified that Connecticut is trying to “rewrite history by legislation.”
State Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, is the bill’s sponsor. The Ohio House passed it in May.
Perales has been advocating for Ohio legislation to defend the Wright brothers since 2013, when Connecticut passed a law naming Whitehead as the first to fly. A small group of Whitehead proponents claim he made a powered flight in August 1901, but historians and scholars say the claim lacks evidence.
The complete testimonies are available for downloading on the committee’s web page.