May 21, 2010

Through passion and dedication, the Wright Brothers made their vision of powered flight a reality. Now, the aviation community has an opportunity to dedicate itself to a vision for memorializing the Wrights’ achievements in the U.S. Capitol building. &

In 2006, the Ohio legislature decided to replace one of the state’s two allotted statutes in the Capitol building’s National Statuary Hall. A committee of state lawmakers is spearheading the process for selecting the replacement statue, and among the options under consideration is a statue of Orville and Wilbur Wright. The selection committee has posted a list of the final options online, and is providing a means to cast a ballot for Ohio’s next representative in Statuary Hall.

NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen encouraged the Association’s Ohio-based Members to support the initiative by voting for the Wright Brothers statue. “Including Orville and Wilbur Wright in Statuary Hall would be a fitting tribute to the brothers – a recognition that the impact of their discoveries have had an impact not just nationally, but globally,” Bolen said.

Ballots are available online, in PDF or in Microsoft Word, at Voting ends June 12. Although only the votes of Ohio residents will be counted, the state selection committee has said it will “tally” ballots from citizens residing outside Ohio.

“It’s not just an Ohio issue,” wrote John Bosch and Amanda Wright Lane of Ohio’s National Aviation Heritage Alliance, which is directing a ballot drive on behalf of the Wright Brothers statue. “There will probably never be another chance in our lifetimes to put a statue of the Wright Brothers in Statuary Hall.”

The Wrights are but one choice for the replacement statue; the Ohio ballot includes nine other noteworthy Ohioans, including James Mitchell Ashley, William M. McCulloch, Thomas Edison and Harriett Taylor Upton.

“Congress already knows how important the Wright Brothers were,” Bolen continued. “In fact, one of the few additions to the Capitol’s Frieze of American History fresco since 1889 shows the Wright’s first flight. We can further memorialize their accomplishments with a presence in Statuary Hall.”

NBAA has long supported initiatives to recognize the advent of powered flight, and the advances made since. As one example, in 2008, the Association included a display of a detailed flying replica of the Wright “B” Flyer (the first the brothers produced in quantity), at the Association’s Annual Meeting & Convention.