COLUMBUS, Ohio—The Ohio Senate stood with historians and scholars on Wednesday, Dec. 9, in passing a state resolution in which Ohio repudiates Connecticut for claiming the Wright brothers were not the first to fly.
Senators unanimously passed House Concurrent Resolution 8 (HCR 8), a measure that defends Ohio’s distinction as the “birthplace of aviation” and repudiates a claim made by state lawmakers in Connecticut who argued that their state deserved the title.
Ohio Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, sponsored HCR 8 in response to a Connecticut bill, signed into law by Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy in 2013, that claimed Gustave Whitehead, not Ohio brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright, was first to make a successful flight in a powered, heavier-than-air machine.
Eminent historians have repeatedly discredited the claim over several decades, citing a lack of any credible evidence to support it, officials with the National Aviation Heritage Alliance in Dayton noted.
Perales sponsored the resolution in March to preserve Ohio’s aviation heritage and further secure the Wright brothers’ legacy. The Ohio House passed it in May. National Aviation Heritage Alliance representatives testified in favor of the measure.
Perales said defending Ohio’s aviation heritage isn’t a trivial issue for a state in which aerospace and defense is an important industry.
“As chairman of the Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Technology Committee (OAATC), I see this bill as part of the larger picture,” Perales said following the Senate vote. “The OAATC is tasked with developing a comprehensive, strategic aerospace plan for the state, and I believe that the foundation of that plan has to include showing the country and the world that Ohioans have the ingenuity and persistence to solve problems in a big way.”
“The Wright Brothers, with arguably the most significant technological contribution of the 20th Century, laid the groundwork for the entire aerospace and aviation industry, and recognition of the invention of flight will be an essential component of the full package for the state,” he added.