Monday, October 11, 2010


I WAS BORN IN INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA, BUT GREW UP IN HUBER HEIGHTS, OHIO JUST NORTH OF THE CITY OF DAYTON. Now I live in the Virginia suburbs of Washington D.C. (and refer to the Potomac River as "the Moat", but I digress...) I keep seeing North Carolina license tags with pictures of the Wright Flyer and the legend "First in Flight". And every now and then I will run into one of you North Carolina jaspers who wants to tell me the airplane was actually invented in North Carolina.

The first heavier-than-air craft was designed, wind-tunnel tested, and built by Wilbur and Orville Wright in their bicycle shop in Dayton Ohio. The Wrights then looked for an area that would have sufficient headwind to launch the craft, a sparse population for safety, and something soft - like beach sand - to crash on in the event of a failure. Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina provided just the ticket.

The Wrights then took their invention apart, trucked it (using turn-of-the-century transport over turn-of-the-century roads) to Kitty Hawk, NC, and set up to test their invention. Adding to the difficulty was the fact that they did this in December to take advantage of the colder (thus denser) air. And what they invented in Dayton, Ohio flew for the first time over the soft sands and cold winds of North Carolina.

But to claim that the airplane was invented in North Carolina is as specious as IBM claiming that Windows Vista was invented by them on the grounds that Bill Gates tested his prototype "MS/DOS" in their laboratories.

North Carolina has much to reccommend it. There's no better barbecue to be found, in my opinion, than that produced by North Carolina pit-masters.

But North Carolina's sole contribution to the history of aviation is the winter winds in the vicinity of Kitty Hawk.

So, on behalf of the Wright Brothers, may I say: "Thanks for the blow job."

Now stop saying you invented the airplane. You didn't.

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