Archived Story

Cook: State right about Wrights

Published 6:32pm Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Those are fighting words.

That’s the attitude a state senator in North Carolina and state representative in Ohio are taking in the wake of the Connecticut General Assembly passing a bill declaring the Wright Brothers were not the first to achieve powered flight. The bill credits Gustave Whitehead with that achievement. On June 26, the governor of Connecticut signed the bill into law.

State Sen. Bill Cook, who lives in Beaufort County, and Ohio state Rep. Rick Perales will conduct a press conference via a conference call at 10 a.m. today. Perales will participate in Ohio while Cook participates from Town Hall in Kill Devil Hills.

The press conference is standing up for the Wright Brothers as the first to accomplish controlled, heavier-than-air, powered and sustained flight, according to an email about the press conference issued by Cook’s office in Raleigh.

Cook believes Connecticut’s claim that Whitehead achieved powered flight first is spurious and somewhat insulting in regard to the Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur. After all, Cook said, most North Carolina license plates carry the message “First in Flight.”

“The evidence they point to, as far as I can tell, is not evidence. They’ve got a picture of a shadow. You can say it’s anything from plan to frog. It’s no evidence. It’s just ridiculous,” Cook said. “Then they say there are some folks who observed it and reported their observations in the newspaper. Afterward, most of them, if not all of them, recanted, saying they just wanted to get their names in the newspaper — they were paid to say what they said.”

Cook said officials with the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.,  “have researched this quite a bit over the years. They have came out and said there is no credible evidence that shows anybody other than the Wright Brothers were the first.”

In 1985, the N.C. General Assembly adopted a resolution repudiating the claim that the Wright Brothers did not make the first sustained, powered flight on Dec. 17, 1903.

That resolution, in part, reads: “The Wright Brothers in these achievements have been affirmed by the President and the Congress of the United States, federal courts, scholars, museums and bright school children everywhere.”

Whitehead and others claim he made powered flights in 1901 and 1902.

Earlier this year in its 100th-anniversary edition, “Jane’s All the World’s Aircraft” credited Whitehead with making the first, manned powered flight. That recognition reignited the debate over who flew first.


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