Home / General / Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 112

Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 112


This is the grave of Orville and Wilbur Wright.

Wilbur Wright was born in 1867 in Indiana and his younger brother Orville was born four years later in Dayton. Neither finished high school, which was hardly uncommon at the time. They got involved in the printing business in Dayton, publishing a series of short-lived newspapers, including Paul Laurence Dunbar’s paper for Dayton’s black community, and other publications. None of these were particularly successful, but, again, there was nothing unusual about newspapers coming and going in the Gilded Age. They became interested in the new phenomenon of bicycling and opened a bike shop in Dayton in 1892. By 1896, they were making their own bicycles. At the same time, they became interested in flight, as it seemed increasingly possible that humans could cross this frontier. They paid attention to the continued advancements toward flight in Europe and began to experiment themselves. As early as 1900, the Wright Brothers began traveling to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina for flight experiments. They of course succeeded in 1903, making them first people to fly. Wilbur was the first because he won the coin toss. It was only 3 seconds, but flight it was. They had more success 3 days later, once flying for 12 seconds and, more importantly, getting a picture of it. Of course, people wondered if this was even flying. The Dayton Journal refused to write a story about it, believing that this was not long enough to count.

The next couple of years saw the continuation of sort of flying. They continued building early airplanes and having very limited success. But by the fall of 1905, they flew for as long as 38 minutes. This was real flight and finally people began paying attention. Part of the reason they had trouble attracting attention is that this was a strictly entrepreneurial enterprise. They wouldn’t fly for reporters because they feared people stealing their ideas and they wanted to sell the technology to a company. People openly declared they were lying, especially in Europe. In 1906 and 1907, they made no flights at all because of their obsession of selling a technology no one had seen in action. The U.S. military blew them off entirely. Finally, in 1908, they convinced the military to open a contract to build a flyer, which they won, and also agreed to a contract with a French company. Before securing the contracts though, they had to fly with a passenger. The media heard about it and finally the lid was blown off the invention. At that point, they went to France and did several public demonstrations, becoming stars of the day. Of course, these planes were tremendously unstable. At the first demonstration for the military, the plane crashed. Orville was seriously injured, the military officer died of a skull fracture. Still, they managed to succeed in building the planes they contracted for and they became successful, with President Taft inviting them for dinner at the White House.

Typically however, they became involved in all sorts of conflicting patent claims. All of this undermined Wilbur’s health. Instead of dying in a plane accident, which I always assumed was the cause for his early death, he died of exhaustion and typhoid fever in 1912, at the age of 45. Orville, not a very good businessman but knowing that, sold the company in 1915 and moved back to Dayton. He made his last flight as a pilot in 1918 and then retired. Both brothers were close to their sister Katharine, also buried here, but when she finally married in 1926, the only sibling to do so, Orville felt personally betrayed and refused to attend the wedding. She died three years of later pneumonia and he only saw her once before then. Orville also had a lot of regrets later in life over the use of airplanes in war, especially after the horrors of World War II. He didn’t regret inventing it however. He died in 1948.

The continuing battle between Ohio and North Carolina on license plates and the back of quarters to claim the home of flight is largely a pissing match between two states with very little else to offer and should be made fun of by everyone from better states.

Orville and Wilbur Wright are buried in Woodland Cemetery, Dayton, Ohio.

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  • DN Nation

    a pissing match between two states with very little else to offer

    A lot of North Carolina is very beautiful. Including Kitty Hawk; if you’ve never been, best do it now before climate change permanently erases the Outer Banks.

    And for what it’s worth, NC’s license plate doesn’t show the Wright brothers, but rather the plane in flight, the dunes, and the cattails. More of a “this land of ours made flight possible” rather than a celebration of the men themselves. This land, mind you, that state Republicans still work mightily to trash.

    Also the Hurricanes have won a Stanley Cup more recently than any Canadian team, which, lol.

    • A lot of North Carolina is very beautiful.

      “Where every prospect pleases, and only man is vile”, kind of thing?

      Sincerely, A Graduate (Wilbur Wright Junior High School, Cleveland, Ohio, 1962)

  • delazeur

    As to the Ohio vs. N.C. pissing contest, I believe Ohio also likes to brag about having the most astronauts (or something like that — it might also be people on the moon or Americans in space). In some sense, though, it’s a weird thing to brag about: what is it about Ohio that drives its residents to flee the planet?

    • what is it about Ohio that drives its residents to flee the planet?

      Its residents.

      • rm

        This is backwards. As an Ohioan who has lived in NC, I can tell you Ohio generally has better people and worse (boring) landscapes. Even its Great Lake is the most meh of the Great Lakes. While NC has spectacular landscapes and a more noticeable contingent of horrible people.

        Loomis had to add an asshole troll paragraph because otherwise the post would have been entirely judicious and fair, and he don’t roll that way.

        • At twilight on a Tuesday evening in September 1909, Feng Ru prepared to test an airplane of his own design above the gently rolling hills of Oakland, California. It was just six years after Orville and Wilbur Wright took to the skies at Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, and only a year after their first public flights.

          “The big bi-plane, with its four starting wheels tucked beneath it like the talons of a bird, sailed slowly in an elliptical course around the crest of the hill nearly back to the starting point,” reported the Oakland Enquirer in its September 23 edition. For an astonishing 20 minutes Feng circled the Piedmont area, never more than 12 feet off the ground. Suddenly, a bolt holding the propeller to the shaft snapped, sending Feng tumbling to earth, bruised but otherwise unharmed.

          While Feng Ru is little known in the United States, his fame in China is equivalent to the Wright brothers’. Middle- and high schools are named in his honor, and his childhood home is a museum; China even considers its space program to be based upon the foundations of Feng’s work.


          • Consider, too, that by 1912, Turkey was using aircraft to drop bombs. Less than 10 years from first flight to use as weapon.

            • woodrowfan

              and some of the Mexican revolutionaries tried as well…

          • Dennis
            • And your point is?

            • The Dark Avenger

              What’s your problem?

          • Deborah Bender

            I lived in Oakland for fifteen years and never heard of Feng Ru. Oakland should have a monument to him, or a school named for him, or something.

        • Murc

          Loomis had to add an asshole troll paragraph

          Loomis wasn’t trolling. This isn’t what trolling means.

          (I will die on this philological hill.)

          • rm

            Well, substitute “baselessly opinionated overgeneralizing.”

            • Happy Jack

              Keep in mind that Loomis is from the state with the constitution that specifically outlawed the presence of black people. He’s just being funny.

              • Erik Loomis

                I make absolutely no apology for the racism of Oregon, past or present.

              • rm

                This brings up the question of whether any state is not horrible. All 50 have atrocities in their history and some awful people.

          • dhudson2728

            Loomis was totally trolling. That last bit was included primarily (if not solely) to draw a reaction. If anything, it was a bit too obvious a troll.

          • Pete

            No one can doubt your devotion to that particular cause. ; – )

        • Clearly the state that moved massively toward Trump in 2016, making Arizona closer for the Democrats than Ohio, is full of all the best people.

          • rm

            I never said they were a majority.

        • I can tell you Ohio generally has better people

          I came down on the other side of that proposition when, shortly after the Kent State murders, I learned that a majority of Ohioans polled believed that the dead students had got what they deserved; at that point I knew I couldn’t be an Ohioan any more, and nothing in the last 47 years has made me regret that realization.

          But I will concede that there are probably just as many awful people in North Carolina, and very likely more. There’s a glut.

          • rm

            NC kept reelecting Jesse Helms. It’s all relative.

          • rm

            Also, NC’s greatest literary figure is Charles Chesnutt, who was an Ohioan.

            • ForkyMcSpoon

              O Henry is also from NC. But I’d say NC has better musical heritage than literary: John Coltrane, Nina Simone, James Taylor, Ben Folds… Others like George Clinton, Roberta Flack and Thelonious Monk were born but not raised in NC.

              But even then, that’s not that much compared to other places, in the big scheme of things…

          • woodrowfan

            to be fair, that majority was nation-wide. It horrifies me still.

          • Pete

            I guess that sentiment was understandable, but I’d bet you those poll numbers wouldn’t have been too different in most states.

        • Pete

          “This is backwards. As an Ohioan who has lived in NC, I can tell you Ohio generally has better people and worse (boring) landscapes. Even its Great Lake is the most meh of the Great Lakes. While NC has spectacular landscapes and a more noticeable contingent of horrible people.”
          Precisely true.

        • ForkyMcSpoon

          I was born in Ohio, and spent the latter half of my childhood in North Carolina.

          I would’ve been inclined to agree with you until recently. But Ohio voted more strongly for Trump than NC (and more for Portman than NC did for Burr), which has made me question my opinions about their relative merit. The NCGOP is more loathsome than the OHGOP though, I’ll grant you that. If only Cleveland and the Triangle were representative of their respective states…

    • When I lived in Knoxville, there was a story on the local news about why every other car in the Smokies had an Ohio license plate. The reporter asked one of the Ohioans why so many people from their state came to Tennessee and the response was something very much like, “Have you ever been to Ohio?”

    • paul1970
      • wjts

        Childish as hell, but I can’t stop laughing.

  • Joe Paulson

    Ohio does have those presidents.

    Mediocre list, but Grant’s service in the Civil War alone does the trick.

    North Carolina was the last state to join the Confederacy. There’s that. (NC does take a while to do things. Took until late 1789 to ratify the Constitution too.)

    • DN Nation

      North Carolina’s presidents: Andrew Johnson (I grew up near his birth house!), James K. Polk, and they even claim Andrew Jackson even though he was likely born in SC. Woof.

      • Erik Loomis

        Although all 3 of these people conducted their entire political career in Tennessee.

        • reattmore

          Ohio–“Mother of Presidents”
          North Carolina–“Mother of Presidents from Tennessee”

    • dhudson2728

      To be fair, North Carolina only joined after Virginia seceded and cut them off from the rest of the Union. In a way, their position was the mirror image of Maryland, which was pro-confederate but forced to stay in the Union by geography. Even after they seceded, North Carolinians were at best lukewarm supporters of the confederacy.

      Which is why Sherman famously ordered his men to stop pillaging and burning as soon as they crossed into NC.

      • Joe Paulson

        Maryland was a border state with mixed loyalties but after the attack of Fort Sumter, strongly rejected secession. Unclear to me they were “forced by geography” here, especially bordering Virginia. If anything, the geography gave them more discretion than NC to choose their fate.

        As to NC, yes — I noted they were the last to join, showing the lukewarm nature of their sentiments. But, secede they did.

        • dhudson2728

          Are you familiar with the Maryland state song? The Union had to occupy parts of the state to keep it from seceding.

          NC had little choice once VA seceded, if they had stayed in the Union they would have been attacked by the Confederacy (which needed the rail lines). If they had shared a border with the Union, I believe they would have stayed.

          • Joe Paulson

            The song addresses opposition to U.S. forces coming into the state to hold down certain secessionist forces as well as being on the way to face the Confederacy. But, in late April, by lopsided vote, the state legislature also voted against secession. Given its druthers, Maryland probably wanted to be neutral like Kentucky said it wanted to be.

            I fine with saying they were pressured (settling it for the winning margin; a minority probably were pro-secession anyway) but doesn’t really get them off the hook for treason. And, if the Confederacy actually violated their apparent principles to invade a sovereign state for rail lines, it would have caused them some problems too. Being seen as the aggressors in Kentucky, e.g., caused them problems.

            • dhudson2728

              In 1861 the federal government arrested nearly a third of the members of the Maryland state legislature. That same year Union troops occupied Baltimore and imposed martial law. Evidently Lincoln was not particularly confident that Maryland would remain loyal.

              As for the Confederacy, they certainly would have attacked North Carolina; if nothing else, they could not have allowed the Union to hold the rail lines between SC and VA.

              The Union had a foothold on the NC coast quite early in the war; I think if they had sent an army to seize Raleigh and declared a general amnesty, large chunks of NC (if not the entire state) would have switched sides. The war was definitely not popular in NC the way it was in, say, SC.

    • ASV

      Kentucky, West Virginia, and Indiana all joined the Confederacy long after North Carolina did.

      • Joe Paulson

        When did Indiana join the Confederacy? W. VA seceded from Virginia to get away from the Confederacy. KY and Missouri did not officially join though factions from the state did & the Confederacy accepted them as such.

        • Erik Loomis


        • Pete

          I suspect that was humor.

  • NicknotNick

    From a conceptual point of view, it’s kind of weird that the bicycle and the airplane seem to have entered society so closely in time . . . Could you make an argument that the car was third to both of these?

    • rwelty

      there were functioning cars in the very late 1800s, so i’d say no.

    • Deborah Bender

      The argument is that automobiles were not practical transportation until the roads were improved. It was lobbying by bicyclists, who were far more numerous than auto owners, that led to the improvement of the roads.

      I think the only connection between airplanes and cars is that the internal combustion engine made heavier than air craft possible. That is true to a lesser extent for automobiles and trucks; there were functional steam powered and electric powered vehicles that didn’t run on rails.

  • Murc

    The sudden advent of flying was one of the very earlier examples of future shock. It took maybe fifteen years to go from “can get into the air for three seconds” to “we can reliably fly these things hundred of miles and preform complex aerobatics in them.”

    This happened at the same time that automobiles were rapidly penetrating all corners of society in the western world, and also during the first great modern advances in advertising and propaganda. The tail end of the long nineteenth century was a tumultuous time for folks.

    • FMguru

      I’m more impressed that it went from “barely a toy” in 1903 to “thousands of them shoot machineguns at each other in the air over France, every day” in 1917. That’s a hell of a ramp-up.

      And then 25 years after that, its DC-3s crossing the oceans and B-17s and B-29s levelling cities, and 25 years after THAT it’s Tranquility Base and the Concorde.

    • Deborah Bender

      The tail end of the nineteenth century was when the rate of speed of technological advance peaked. There have been other eras in human history when technology advanced rapidly, but at no time before or since have the advances been as rapid and fundamental as the tail end of the nineteenth century. Since then, the rate of technological advance has been gradually slowing down. This became noticeable in the late twentieth century and is now pretty obvious once you stop assuming the opposite.

      • Latverian Diplomat

        I guess it depends what you mean by “the speed of technological advance”. It’s true that the 19th century was the golden age of simple, world beating ideas that had big impacts on culture.

        But there are microprocessors in everything, video rental as a leisure activity came and went, my uncle’s life was just saved by a surgical procedure that didn’t exist 20 years ago. and I do all my reading on an ebook reader or a computer screen because the print in books and magazines are too small for me to read comfortably.

        So, yeah, there are fewer “big bang” inventions, I guess, but technology is having lots of small effects all over the place.

        • Deborah Bender

          I don’t think we are too far apart.

          Try this thought experiment. Consider a big city in the western world that was already a mature city two hundred years ago–London, for instance. Think about London in 1817, 1917, and 2017.

          If a middle class Londoner from 1917 were dropped into London today, she would need to get used to the size and the traffic and would need some explanation of computers, microprocessors and the Internet. She would already have used or heard about telephones, moving pictures, wireless communication and electric lights. Sewers, piped water, subways, motorized transportation, garbage collection, skyscrapers, elevators, hospitals, crime control, public libraries, refrigeration, shipping of food and goods in and out of the city limits, basically every important component of the infrastructure of a modern city would be familiar to her. She would understand how the city worked, recognize the function of most of what she saw, and would not take long learning how to get around in it. Most of the big technological changes in the century to come were things that were being developed or on the horizon in 1917.

          2017 London isn’t under a dome. It doesn’t have moving sidewalks or a rocket port or personal air transport aside from a few helicopter landing pads. It does not resemble the 1930s sci-fi City of the Future or anything stranger. It is a larger, noisier and cleaner version of 1917 London, with taller buildings and faster communication.

          1817 London was preindustrial and didn’t have any of that 1917 infrastructure other than piped water, some sewers, and some garbage collection.

          • Latverian Diplomat

            I get your point, and it’s not an unfamiliar one to me. I’m not really disputing the point you are making, which is about rapid social change.

            Knowing what a camera is, or that long distance communication is possible, or that goods and people can move faster than horseback, is a set of background knowledge that prepares one to accept ongoing improvement in those areas, unthinkable to a person before the foundational inventions in those fields.

            One can look at other fields and see the same issue I’m talking about. There won’t be another Shakespeare, but the amount of fictional drama in multiple formats being produced today is staggering. There won’t be another Newton or Lavoisier, but the number of scientists working today and the sheer volume of data they are collecting is massive.

            How it might affect a fictional time traveler is an interesting thought experiment, but I think there are other ways to look at the issue of the rate of technological progress.

  • https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a91eb8475e97e09c515a4cfdf633091d036a9a91a3318f4b6732ef42916dae16.jpg
    On June 25, 2013, Governor Dan Malloy signed into law House Bill 6671 recognizing Gustave Whitehead as the first person to achieve powered flight. Several eye witness accounts attest to the success of Whitehead’s airship, which took off from a field near Fairfield, Connecticut, on the morning of August 14, 1901, more than two years before the Wright brothers famous first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. https://connecticuthistory.org/gustave-whitehead-first-in-flight/

    • To be fair and balanced and present “both sides”, here is a rebuttal by Scientific American.

    • Erm, no. Whitehead was as full of shit as it’s possible to be. The “eye witness” accounts are about as reliable as those contained in the frontispiece of The Book of Mormon.
      Whitehead claimed to have built and flown (several times!) a reliable and controllable aircraft. Yet, there are no photos of the thing flying, he never pursued or refined his design at a time when people were literally throwing money at companies with aircraft designs, and he somehow never managed to build anything else that flew.

      • Are you calling Malloy and the CT legislature a bunch of liars!!!!!! Good day sir.

        If you read the SA article linked below, no evidence it was “powered” flight. It seems likely that Whitehead merely invented the hang glider or built a giant box kite.

        • I’d put Whitehead’s possible accomplishments on a par with Cayley’s glider/rowboat. Not quite flight, and not even on a par with what people like Lillienthal were doing. Lillienthal, of course, was actually flying hang gliders and using weight-shifting to achieve control. And there are photos of him gliding down his specially constructed hill with his legs kicked off to one side as he executes a turn.

      • rwelty

        lots of people claimed to have beaten the Wrights. you end up getting into a technical discussion about what constitutes a functioning airplane. the main reason the Wrights get credit is that they devised the wing warming method that allowed their craft to bank and turn effectively. none of their competitors really had working control surfaces.

        • The Wrights get credit for more than just developing wing warping for control. The engine they designed and built far outclassed anything else in terms of power-to-weight ratio. While they followed developments in flight form Europe, they quickly realized that everyone else was working off faulty data, so they built their own wind tunnel to test airfoils and get accurate measurements. They also came up with the world’s first aircraft propeller design that could actually work without self-destructing at operational RPMs.

          • John F

            “The engine they designed and built far outclassed anything else in terms of power-to-weight ratio”
            No it didn’t (not in 903), Langley had a much better engine (his plane failed for other reasons)

            • Langley’s Manly-Balzer was better (52hp versus 12 for the Wrights’, and 0.38hp/lb versus 0.06 for the Wrights’). OTOH, the Wrights designed and built their own, while Langley got his from, well, Manly-Balzer.

      • woodrowfan

        and he was apparently flying around Long Island Sound, an area very heavily trafficked by shipping, without anyone noticing… Might as well pass a resolution praising the aliens from Mars that build the pyramids.

        • Latverian Diplomat

          Long Island Sound…First in Stealth Technology!

  • McAllen

    Ohio has a neat flag, at least.

    North Carolina will be interesting to future historians as the vilest laboratory of American conservatism, so that’s something I guess.

    • DN Nation

      NC gets credit for being a Southern state without any Confederate nonsense in the flag. (Despite actually being developed during the Civil War!) But SC does it better.

    • rm

      Native Ohioan here, but I was about 40 before I realized that circle is meant to be a capital O. The letter O is not usually a perfect circle, and the inside background color should match the outside, or it looks like a frisbee. Still one of the top ten state flags.

      • reattmore

        Are you sure that isn’t the Obama flag?

    • allin58

      One good thing is that much of it will be under water by then.

    • dhudson2728

      Hey now, our legislature is bad, but surely Kentucky has us beat?

      • rm_rm_rm

        Not yet. Kentucky is way behind on the ALEC-fucking agenda. NC had its Death Eater takeover years ago; KY’s was just recently accomplished.

        • dhudson2728

          Sorry, meant Kansas, not KY.

    • Latverian Diplomat

      Better than average state flag is a pretty low bar. It’s no New Mexico or Alaska.

      I don’t care for the pennant style, either, but I’ll concede that’s open to debate.

      This has been…Fun with Flags.

  • DiogenesOfRVA

    My beloved ima is from Cincinnati so I’m biased, but Ohio has given us Cincinnati chilli (and I will gut anyone who speaks against it) and William T. Sherman, which is a bit of a push depending on where in his military career you look. Also, the Bengals still have the best helmets and uniforms in the NFL.

    In conclusion, fuck North Carolina and those goddamn ubiquitous OBX stickers.

    • Also, the Bengals still have the best helmets and uniforms in the NFL.

      Not for the sighted.

      • wjts

        Eh, it’s all been downhill since they got rid of Pat Patriot.

    • rm

      You misspelled “Cleveland ethnic cuisine from many nations” and “Browns.” Cincinnati has some good points, but the “chili” and Bengals decor are abominations.

      • Erik Loomis

        I happened by complete chance to drive by the Browns headquarters the other day. Not surprisingly, it is in a run down suburb replete with empty office parks and a general feeling of depression.

        • firefall

          caused by the Browns?
          (not disbelieving, they’re bad enough that it’s plausible)

      • DiogenesOfRVA

        The provenance of the chili makes it as all-American as apple pie, pizza, and hot dogs. It is also delicious served as a coney or as a four way with onions instead of beans with a helping of oyster crackers.

        And I see we have a cadre of elitist coastal aesthetes who prefer drab minimalism in their football uniforms. I suppose second in your mind to the Browns’ gear is the Green Bay throwbacks.

        • wjts

          What about the Steelers’ snazzy bumblebee throwbacks?

          • DiogenesOfRVA

            All I’ll say is Ben Roethlisberger should be forced to wear one every day for the rest of his rotten life.

            • wjts

              I actually do like the bumblebee jerseys.

        • reattmore

          The provenance of the chili makes it as all-American as apple pie, pizza, and hot dogs. It is also delicious served as a coney

          Would you put noodles on your hot dog?

          Chili is not an atrocity, but Cincinnti chili is

          • wjts

            Noodles are a perfectly cromulent addition to chili, Cincinnati style or otherwise.

            • reattmore


            • Deborah Bender

              I’m willing to try the local fare if I’m ever in the area, but that sounds bizarre.

              When I make chili, I usually have it over white rice.

              • wjts

                As a rule, I like chili just fine without a starch. Rice is OK, but noodles (elbow macaroni for preference) are better.

          • DiogenesOfRVA

            Why would I put noodles on my hot dog? It’s already getting starch from the bun.

            Look, I’ll concede the fact that it takes either a tremendous pile of cheese and a hot dog OR adding the constituents of traditional chili (beans, onions) to make Cincinnati chili truly great, but even at its base state it’s pretty great and certainly not an abomination. Unless you have some sort of weird, xenophobic hatred against Macedonians.

        • rm


          Also, apple pie is wonderful, but American pizza does not deserve the name, and hot dogs are not good.

          • DiogenesOfRVA

            I actually really like the Green Bay throwback uniforms myself.

            Eh, American pizza is fine as long as it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and I love the occasional Hebrew National.

        • David Allan Poe

          The provenance of the chili makes it as all-American as apple pie, pizza, and hot dogs.

          I vaguely remember reading a history of Cincinnati chili that derives its peculiar mix of spices, ground beef, and noodles from similar dishes in Greece and other parts of the eastern Mediterranean. Immigrants in Ohio slapped a familiar name onto an unfamiliar dish, and there you have it.

          • Deborah Bender

            Fair enough. That’s the way I cook. If you don’t call it chili, I would be happy to eat it.

      • Thomas W

        If I wanted to go to an art museum in NC or OH, I’m assuming Cleveland would be the choice. Same thing with the orchestra.

    • DN Nation

      The actual Outer Banks >>> OBX stickers on SUVs

    • woodrowfan

      Cincinnati Chili is WONDERFUL. I am MEH on the Bungals…

      • Erik Loomis


        • firefall

          You’re that much of a Bengals supporter?

    • Just a Rube

      Wait, you’re putting Ohio over North Carolina based in part on food?

      I mean, a fight between Carolina Barbecue and Cincinnati Chile is…not one that Ohio is going to win.

    • ForkyMcSpoon

      Cincinnati chili is an abomination. Then again, I’m from Cleveland.

      I also spent half of my childhood in North Carolina, and sorry, but Cincinnati chili can’t possibly compete with North Carolina barbecue (eastern or western).

  • rrhersh

    The Ohio vs. NC pissing match is nothing compared with the pissing match over who “really” invented the airplane. The truth of the matter is that engine technology was on the cusp of being up to the task. The technology of the wing was reasonably well understood. They had to work out how to control the damn thing, but there were lots of people working on the problem. It was inevitable that the various inventors would put it all together at about this time. Which one happened to be first is essentially irrelevant.

  • N__B

    and should be made fun of by everyone from better states.

    That is some high-quality trolling. Premiere cru.

  • Taylor

    The Wright Brothers did not work in isolation. The area around Dayton, Ohio was a kind of Silicon Valley of its time. The driver for was this was Charles Deeds, Chairman of NCR, who fostered several inventors in the area, including the Wright brothers and Charles Kettering, with an emphasis on aviation.

    Wright-Patterson AFB was named after the Wright brothers and Frank Patterson, the son of the co-founder of NCR, who was killed while flying in WWI.

    The hicks in North Carolina contributed long beaches to the history of flight.

    • dhudson2728

      Long, windy beaches. Dear lord, is Kitty Hawk windy.

    • Latverian Diplomat

      IIRC, Deeds also helped create IBM, by firing Thomas Watson. :)

  • lawguy

    When I was a grad student at Wright State in Dayton in history (briefly) I was allowed to go over one of the diaries of Bishop Wright. The most interesting entry was one where he said: Went down to [the place they had their plane] and watched the boys fly today.

  • Scott P.

    “They of course succeeded in 1903, making them first people to fly.
    Wilbur was the first because he won the coin toss. It was only 3
    seconds, but flight it was”

    Orville was first. Wilbur’s attempt crashed on takeoff. Wilbur himself did not consider it a successful flight.

  • keta

    The best thing I’ve ever enjoyed from the Buckeye state is Larry Kroger’s 1964 high school yearbook from C. Estes Kefauver High in Dacron, Ohio. And when that Woody Hayes fellow punched an opposing player on the sidelines and the announcers completely ignored it.

    As for North Carolina, I’ve always believed native son O. Henry captured the business smarts and cunning of the state in his short story, The Ransom of Red Chief. The tale is purported to be set in Alabama, but I think we can all see through that falsity.

  • Personal heroes of mine because of how they systematically went through the problems associated with flight and knocked them down one by one. They didn’t have one brilliant idea – they had a lot of them, and that’s why they got there first. McCullough’s recent book stressed the huge celebrity that they achieved, and in particular what stars they became in Europe. Wilbur was honored at a great banquet in Paris, and McCullough managed to find his speech:

    “For myself and my brother I thank you for the honor you
    are doing us and for the cordial reception you have tendered us this

    If I had been born in your beautiful country and had grown up among
    you, I could not have expected a warmer welcome than has been given me.
    When we did not know each other, we had no confidence in each other;
    today, when we are acquainted, it is otherwise: we believe each other,
    and we are friends. I thank you for this.

    In the enthusiasm being shown around me, I see not merely an outburst
    intended to glorify a person, but a tribute to an idea that has always
    impassioned mankind. I sometimes think that the desire to fly after
    the fashion of birds is an ideal handed down to us by our ancestors who,
    in their grueling travels across trackless lands in prehistoric times,
    looked enviously on the birds soaring freely through space, at full
    speed, above all obstacles, on the infinite highway of the air.

    Scarcely ten years ago, all hope of flying had almost been abandoned:
    even the most convinced had become doubtful, and I confess that, in
    1901, I said to my brother Orville that men would not fly for fifty
    years. Two years later, we ourselves were making flights. This
    demonstration of my inability as a prophet gave me such a shock that I
    have ever since distrusted myself and have refrained from all prediction
    – as my friends of the press, especially, well know. But it is not
    really necessary to look too far into the future; we see enough already
    to be certain that it will be magnificent. Only let us hurry and open
    the roads.

    Once again, I thank you with all my heart, and in thanking you I should like it understood that I am thanking all of France.”

    That got him a standing ovation! And he had to autograph over 200 menus.

    • DCBobv2point0

      Now imagine Trump in that same situation.

      • wjts

        Imagine that man trying to build a bicycle. Hell, imagine him trying to put the stickers on a Big Wheel.

    • Deborah Bender

      That’s some nineteenth century diction. Highly subordinated sentences, similes, historical references, modesty. From someone who did not graduate high school, and probably wrote his own speech, maybe with a little help from his brother.

      This is an example of why I commented on one of yesterday’s blog entries that extending the number of years that ordinary people spend in school is not necessarily going to fix any of our problems.

    • Drew

      How is McCullough’s bio? I wasn’t a huge fan of Truman so I’m wondering. Do you know of any other good Wright bros biographies?

  • Colin Snider

    Brazilians will fiercely and aggressively insist that Santos Dumont was the first. The evidence (and their arguments) are not compelling, but to suggest to them that Santos Dumont may not have been the first is tantamount to promoting Yankee imperialism and exceptionalism. Based on my own experiences when I lived there, they will die on that hill, get resurrected, and return to die on it again.


    ETA: And he died via suicide, in part due to his own lament of the militarization of the airplane – something he and Orville Wright interestingly shared, apparently.

    • BigHank53

      The most interesting tidbit in there is that Cartier built the first wristwatch for Santos Dumont, so he wouldn’t have to take a hand off the controls to fish for a pocket watch.

  • woodrowfan

    “At the first demonstration for the military, the plane crashed.”

    Um, no. Orville made numerous solo flights at Fort Myer, setting several world records, before the fateful flight that killed Lt.Selfridge/

    “Of course, these planes were tremendously unstable.”

    Actually, the Paris flights demonstrated how far advanced the Wrights’ aircraft were compared to other aircraft.

    • That’s a pretty low bar indeed. The original Wright flyer was barely stable.

      • woodrowfan

        but by the time they did their demos in Paris and Arlington their flyer was very stable. You can fly on working replicas in Virginia and Dayton today.

  • Ramon A. Clef

    The continuing battle between Ohio and North Carolina on license plates and the back of quarters to claim the home of flight is largely a pissing match between two states with very little else to offer and should be made fun of by everyone from better states.

    And from Florida, as well.

  • firefall
  • Unemployed_Northeastern

    “Instead of dying in a plane accident, which I always assumed was the cause for his early death, he died of exhaustion and typhoid fever in 1912, at the age of 45.”

    Don't you know that the chemtrails cause typhoid fever? The chemtrails, I tell you!

  • Crprod

    NC’s First in Flight certainly beats its First in Freedom claim. Perhaps when the dust settles, NY will have First in Trumps.

  • Dennis

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