The legendary historian David McCullough wasn’t taking the bait a couple of years ago when, as a guest lecturer for an event at the N.C. Museum of History, he was asked if North Carolina or Ohio had the proper claim on the Wright brothers (Ohio natives). McCullough quickly reckoned that “you both can be proud” of contributions to aviation. Ordinarily a North Carolinian or two might have argued the point, but disputing McCullough on a matter of history is, well, unwise. Particularly when he’s the author of a definitive work on the Wrights.
But now another definitive work hangs in the lobby of the N.C. Museum of History, and it’s stopping all visitors as they enter. It is a second replica of the Wrights’ 1903 flyer, the plane that lifted off at Kill Devil Hills on Dec. 17, 1903, and gave birth to American aviation. It’s on loan from the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills while renovations are in progress there. The museum has one replica hanging in the Story of North Carolina section. But somehow, this one provides a proper announcement to visitors that they are in North Carolina, and foreign visitors in particular are stunned by the sight.