For years, North Carolina and Ohio have been in a dogfight over which state should be credited with being the birthplace of powered flight.
Now, the states find themselves in the unusual position of forming an alliance to shoot down a challenge by Connecticut, which recently signed a law claiming that native son Gustave Whitehead made the first airplane flight in Stratford, Conn., in 1901 - two years before the Wright Brothers' flight.
While Ohio license plates bear the slogan "Birthplace of Aviation," and North Carolina's tags claim that state to be "First in Flight," both claims are essentially correct, assuming that it was the Wright Brothers who made the world's first controlled powered flight.
The Wright Brothers designed and built their primitive airplane Flyer in Dayton, so in that sense, Dayton was modern aviation's "birthplace."
But it was from a sand dune facing the Atlantic at Kill Devil Hills near Kitty Hawk, N. C., where the Wrights' Flyer made its first controlled power flights in December of 1903, making North Carolina "first in flight."
While Whitehead's claim to having made the first powered flight has been advanced from time to time in the past, a television documentary aired this spring based on new research by an Australian historian brought the Connecticut man to the fore once more.
While the claim has "spawned much speculation and hearsay," according to Tom Crouch, senior curator for aeronautics at the Smithsonian, in a recent Associated Press article, "people who have looked at this over the years almost unanimously reject the claim," Crouch said.
And while it has been documented that West Virginia spruce milled at Cass was used in building the frames for the Wright Brothers' Flyer II and FlyerIII, it turns out our state played a role in a much earlier aviation achievement.