You may have noticed that Ohio state license plates proclaim the Buckeye State to be “the Birthplace of Aviation,” while North Carolina plates say the Tarheel State is “First in Flight.” Their respective state commemorative quarters make the same, seemingly competing claims. So which is right?
They’re both right, because of the Wrights … two brothers named Orville and Wilbur. They are credited with having the first successful flights in a heavier than air, mechanically propelled airplane. They were from Dayton, Ohio, and developed all their concepts for flight in their home state. But when it came to a place to actually demonstrate their airplane in action, they chose what meteorological data told them was the windiest point in the United States: Kitty Hawk, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
From the sandy beaches along the Atlantic, the Wright brothers lifted themselves, literally and figuratively, into human flight and one of the greatest achievements of humanity. Aviation as we know it ultimately owes its origins to Orville and Wilbur Wright, and proper tribute is paid to these pioneers at the Wright Brothers Memorial in North Carolina.
I visited the memorial this year, carrying with me from one ocean coast to the other a sense of awe and appreciation for what they achieved. I certainly got to that location a lot faster by my own air travel! Every year, the date of December 17 is set aside for all Americans to celebrate the Wright brothers’ lift-off from the bonds of earth and gravity on that day in 1903.
San Diego is famous for a lot of aviation achievements in its own right, but we’ve never forgotten where it all began.
Charles Lindbergh may be prominent at airport, which now bears his name, but the legacy of the Wright brothers lives on in a pair of conference rooms at Airport Authority headquarters named for each of them, which can be and often are joined to host large meetings — especially those that welcome the public.
This pair of rooms on the second floor of the Commuter Terminal ensures that we have the Wright stuff, too, adding our own touchstone of respect to a pair of pioneers who did what was once considered impossible. In its own way, San Diego joins Ohio and North Carolina — and we can all be Wright!