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Aviation Rivals Team Up

Jerry Kenney

Ohio and North Carolina both claim the designation “First in Flight”. The Wright Brothers are from Dayton and made their historic flight in the Outer banks of North Carolina in 1903. Now, the two states are teaming against a new rival - Connecticut.

Connecticut governor Dannel Malloy, last summer, stirred controversy when he signed a state law that says a German immigrant named Gustav Whitehead was the first in flight. That claim got some traction recently when an aviation publication called “Janes All the World’s Aircraft” concluded that Whitehead was first, lifting off two years before the Wright Brother’s flew in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. 

But Ohio state representative Rick Perales says their evidence is based on a blurry photograph and that aviation experts maintain that the Wright Brothers were first. And he says it’s important to set the record straight.

North Carolina and Ohio have never agreed on anything, much less aviation, much less the Wright Brothers," Perales said. "All you got to do is step outside, get in a car and drive around in either state and look at their license plates. The key is that North Carolina and Ohio have a heritage here of aviation by the Wright Brothers. We share that. We understand that. We’re proud of that."

Perales’ district includes Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and Huffman Prairie Flying Field, and he says the Wright Brother’s legacy is important to the region. The representative from Beavercreek has introduced his own bill, which, if passed, would put into state law that Connecticut was not first in flight.

At a joint news conference on Thursday, both states presented a letter signed by 34 aviation experts who stand behind the Wright Brothers 'first in flight' pioneers.