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Ohio, North Carolina Legislators Join Forces to Defend Wright Brothers' Legacy
DAYTON -- It's on our license plates, we have the museums to show,...Ohio is indeed the birthplace of aviation, meanwhile North Carolina is the first in flight, but where does Connecticut come in.
"They actually crossed out the Wright brothers and put in Whitehead. In my book that was crossing the line and we have to stand up and make sure that history does not get changed on a limb and without any evidence," said State Representative and former Air Force commander Rick Perales.
State legislators from Ohio and North Carolina held a joint news conference Thursday to defend the legacy of the Wright brothers against a claim by the state of Connecticut.
Perales and North Carolina State Sen. Bill Cook, linked by an online video connection, spoke from historically significant locations in their home states to rebuke a law Connecticut passed earlier this year that claimed one of its own residents, Gustave Whitehead, flew two years earlier than the Wright brothers.
Rep. Perales & Sen. Cook both agree there is very little evidence to support the claim that Gustave Whitehead made sustained, powered, controlled flights prior to the Wright brothers.
Supporters of the Whitehead flew first claim point to a fanciful newspaper article published in Bridgeport, Conn., in 1901, and some statements gathered decades later.
Connecticut Gov. Dannell Malloy signed it into law on June 26. The claims have been studied and dismissed by historians.
Whitehead's proof includes a few witness statements years later and a blurry picture.
"What's that supposed to be of," said Jackie Follis of Miamisburg.
"I'm not seeing it. It looks a little fuzzy. There's nothing there," said Dylan Raby of Miamisburg.
It's even represented on our quarters. Ohio: Birthplace of aviation pioneers, North Carolina, First Flight, Connecticut just has their state tree.
"I think it's undisputed history as far as I'm concerned," said Follis.
Thursday, Perales announced he has introduced a resolution in the Ohio House of Representatives that would repudiate Connecticuts claim and invite Connecticut citizens to visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills and Ohios Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park and the National Aviation Heritage Area, the National Park Service sites dedicated to the legacy of the Wright brothers.
Cook noted his own state passed a resolution chiding Connecticut the last time the claim surfaced.
"We have a lot of people in the country that will read only a little blurb or the tip of an iceberg and sometimes except it as truth," said Cook.
Some feel its a waste of the legislatures time.
"I think they have more important things they could be doing," said Raby.
But to the lawmakers the Wright Brothers are to valuable.
"Aerospace companies across the state employ more than 100,000 workers and support tens of thousands of additional jobs," Perales said. "For us to come together on anything much less aviation much less the right brothers I think is astounding it's humorous but it's powerful. If someone is going to challenge that I think we need to step up and say this is our heritage. it's at like a family and we take pride in it," said Perales. "This was a no-brainer, easy, I'll do this and then I'll do other things that I need to do for the people of my district."
Perales has written the bill and expects to have sponsors for it this fall.
Click here to read more about the legislation.
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