COLUMBUS, Ohio — Supporters of the Wright Brothers, including one of their descendants, on Tuesday applauded state legislation defending the famous aviators' place in history as the first in flight.
Amanda Wright Lane, the great-grandniece of Wilbur and Orville Wright, impressed an Ohio House committee by brandishing a photograph of their famous Dec. 17, 1903, flight and pieces of wood from the Wright Flyer that traveled with fellow Ohio native Neil Armstrong to the moon and back.
"Ohio can rightfully claim it is the birthplace of aviation based on the accomplishments of my great-granduncles," Lane said.
She said "the iconic photo that captured those magnificent 12 seconds," data journals, letters, testimony, patent applications and published research all exist to document the flight of the Wright Flyer, which the National Air and Space Museum calls "the world's first airplane."
"The meticulous work Uncles Will and Orv did more than a century ago unquestionably led directly to Ohio's aerospace industry today," she said.
The Ohio proposal repudiates a 2013 Connecticut law that declared a flight by Gustave Whitehead on Aug. 14, 1901, the first, beating the Wrights' flight off Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, by two years. Most aviation historians disagree.
Tony Sculimbrene, executive director of the National Aviation Heritage Alliance, said a national aviation heritage area and two national parks have been developed and draw tourists interested in the Wrights' historic accomplishment.
"For one of the 50 states in this great union to state something different is a matter of great concern," he said. "And let's describe this dilemma in very practical terms: If your daughter or son, or your grandson or granddaughter, asked you the question who was the first to fly, what is your answer to them?"
The Smithsonian Institution says the Wright Flyer was the first machine to achieve controlled sustained flight with a pilot aboard.
"The Wright brothers had invented the first successful airplane," it says on its website.
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