Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars?

If you don't live in Ohio or North Carolina, you probably don't realize that the states totally hate each other. Want to know why? It's because of airplanes. And all the license plates. Allow me to explain.

Ohio license plates say, "Birthplace of Aviation."

North Carolina plates say, "First in Flight."

I say, "North Carolina can suck it."

When Heather and Abigail came to Ohio for the wedding, we were driving around one afternoon and the subject of flight came up. No, I don't remember how that happened, but it did. One of them mentioned something about North Carolina license plates saying "first in flight" and THEN they wondered why Ohio got all bent out of shape about it and that is when I HAD TO DROP SOME KNOWLEDGE ALL OVER THEIR ASSES.

I very rationally explained that North Carolina is wrong. It used to be cute that they thought flight was all theirs, but it's not funny anymore. Then I explained about the Wright Brothers and it soon became clear to me that this was not common knowledge unless maybe you grew up in Dayton and took yearly school field trips to the Air Force Museum. (The only other thing I remember from those field trips is that there is a plane at the museum named Strawberry Bitch, which we all thought was hilarious...probably because it's hilarious.)

So here, dear internet, is a faithful narrative of all things Wright Brothers. Well, maybe not all things. But some things! Things I could remember! Or that I found on Wackopedia. Anyway.

Once upon a time there were two brothers, Wilbur and Orville Wright. Neither technically graduated from high school, so think of that the next time you're on a plane. Wilbur was supposed to go to Yale, but he got his front teeth knocked out by a hockey puck so he stayed home because he was afraid none of the Yale ladies would want to make out with him. Ha. Just kidding, there were no ladies at Yale, it was 1885.

Anyway, instead of going to Yale, Wilbur stayed in Dayton and went to work with Orville at his print shop. Interesting (?) sidenote: Paul Laurence Dunbar was one of their customers, and had also been a classmate of Orville's. I like to imagine that they were BFFs. Also, that they invented a time machine so they could go to the future and find out if they ever became famous, which THEY TOTALLY DID. Well, Dayton-famous. Wah wah.

Later, the Wrights opened a bicycle shop called the Wright Cycle Exchange, and used all the crazy cash money they made to pay for their silly flight endeavors. They were mostly focused on how to control an aircraft, so the pilot wouldn't go careening off of a cliff and, like, die and stuff. Other flight-inventing-wannabes were more focused on strapping the biggest engines they could find on planes but the Wrights were all, "size isn't everything, duh."

Then Wilbur and Orville did a bunch of science to figure out how to make an awesome plane that wouldn't kill people. They did this and in 1903, they took the Wright Flyer I to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina and flew the shit out of it. The only reason the first flight took place in North Carolina was because the winds there were more conducive to flying than the winds in Dayton (plus it was December, which equals ice and snow in Ohio). Also, going to North Carolina was cheaper than going to California or Florida. So, congratulations, North Carolina! You get the bronze medal in wind.

But seriously. Stay away from The Wright Brothers. THEY'RE OURS.

(Indiana tries to butt in sometimes, too, just because Wilbur Wright was born there, which is sort of adorable but no, Indiana. Just...no. You get to claim Vonnegut and Letterman, WHY ISN'T THAT ENOUGH FOR YOU?)

PS: If you're ever in Dayton and you have some time to kill, I highly recommend going to Carillon Park. You can see a replica of the Wright bicycle shop (whoo?) and the Wright Flyer III, which is, I think, three times as awesome as the Wright Flyer I. Plus! There is a little replica schoolhouse from the olden days and you get to sit at the desks or in the corner and wear the Dunce hat. It's awesome. Or at least I thought it was awesome when we went there on field trips. You know, when I was 10.

14 comments:

Kiti said...

Do Ohio and North Carolina hate each other more than Ohio and Michigan hate each other? Or less? Does Ohio get in a lot of fights because it can't get along and play well with others? I get so confused. I'm a newbie to Ohio, you know.

Jennie said...

Ohio and Michigan don't get along because of sports, so I don't really count it because I don't care about sports. Hee.

Kiti said...

Someone once told me that in this century, the OH/MI thing is about sports because hello, this is the midwest and eventually everything is all about football, but it really started like 200 years ago when the two states had a big throwdown over Toledo (seriously... Toledo, and according to my friend, it had to do with money, i.e. controlling trade on Lake Erie or the canal or something... as I said, I'm new to Ohio so I'm not quite up on the lore) and Michigan is actually STILL pissed off that Ohio won.

Kiti said...

Someone once told me that in this century, the OH/MI thing is about sports because hello, this is the midwest and eventually everything is all about football, but it really started like 200 years ago when the two states had a big throwdown over Toledo (seriously... Toledo, and according to my friend, it had to do with money, i.e. controlling trade on Lake Erie or the canal or something... as I said, I'm new to Ohio so I'm not quite up on the lore) and Michigan is actually STILL pissed off that Ohio won.

kat said...

"Ha. Just kidding, there were no ladies at Yale, it was 1885."

bwahahahahaha! (i lol'd)

srah said...

Actually I believe the resolution of the Ohio/Michigan war was that a whole bunch of people got lost in a swamp while trying to find each other to fight, and then the US government said, "Ohio, you can have Toledo (but half of them will cheer for Michigan football) and Michigan, you can have the Upper Peninsula, which is rich in natural resources and also crazy people." Then I guess they found their way out of the swamp and learned how to play football.

As a Michigander, the state I get irrationally mad at is Vermont, for that time where they temporarily got Lake Champlain to be one of the Great Lakes. Hell no, you are not a Great Lakes state. Step off, Vermont.

srah said...

Also, I believe that Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI has the original Wright brothers shop. Crazy Henry Ford (no relation to the crazy people in the UP I think) collected significant old buildings all over the place and shipped them up to Michigan.

Jennie said...

Man, I love history.

april said...

Man. I really hope that sometime, when I'm in North Carolina, someone mentions this so I can throw a "well, actually" on his/her ass.

Kiti said...

Yay, Blogger posted my comment above twice. Sorry about that.

Anyway, discussion of early aviation and aerospace is always so interesting! Did you know that for a long time, the French kept denying that the Wrights had proof that they had actually flown at Kitty Hawk, and insisted that some French dude was the first to do manned flight? Those crazy French! But STILL we bailed them out in WWI and then AGAIN in WWII. Why all the hate, French people?!

Heather Anne Hogan said...

The way you and Joe jumped all over Abs and I when we asked, and, like, gave us the EXACT SAME TALKING POINTS, it makes me think all of you Ohio kids are indoctrinated. WITH RAGE.

Jennie said...

I think the rage comes naturally, on account of we live in Ohio. Oh, ZING!

You can call me, 'Sir' said...

Having grown up in Ohio and now finding myself living in NC, I find myself forced to use the NC license plate advertising lies. It's hurtful. I've been to Kitty Hawk, NC, where they flew and the signs use the word 'First' a lot. It's like a slap in the face.

You can call me, 'Sir' said...

Also, Michigan sucks.