Ohio Congressman: Fund Wrights' Factory As Park
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- A Republican congressman from Wright Brothers country is advocating national parks funding to purchase the aviation pioneers' original manufacturing facilities in Ohio, as debate intensifies over rights to the first-in-flight title.
U.S. Rep. Mike Turner has scheduled an appearance Monday in Dayton alongside Amanda Wright Lane of the Wright Family Foundation to discuss efforts to purchase the Wright Company Factory buildings and include them in Dayton's aviation history park.
The buildings are the first U.S. facilities specifically designed and built to manufacture airplanes.
Turner said he worked in 2009 to include language in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act that would expand the boundary of the Dayton Aviation National Historic Park to include the factory. This year, he wants the purchase included among National Park Service projects in the federal budget for fiscal 2015.
Besides Lane, Brady Kress of Dayton History is also slated to join in Monday's event.
The funding push comes amid a renewed dispute over the Wright Brothers' role in aviation history.
Ohio and North Carolina have long sparred over which can claim first-in-flight honors as the respective locations of the Wrights' birth and first flight.
This summer, Connecticut passed a law declaring German-born aviator and Bridgeport, Conn., resident Gustave Whitehead as the first to make a powered flight. The state says Whitehead made his flight in 1901 — two years before Wilbur and Orville Wright's flight off North Carolina's Outer Banks.
Australian historian John Brown initiated the Whitehead claim through research laid out in a documentary aired this spring. His research was enough to sway Jane's All the World's Aircraft, an influential industry publication.
Last month, state representaitves in Ohio and North Carolina united to dispute Connecticut's claim, reasserting that the Wright Brothers were first.