Saturday, September 6, 2014
The So-Called Smithsonian Contract Controversy
It is amazing that poor behavior in the past by one party (the Smithsonian) to another (The Wright Brothers), which was ultimately confessed and an apology given, would now repeat in history with similar poor behavior by others (Connecticut Legislators) against the same party (The Wrights). The old saying goes "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!" It is for this reason that when the 1903 Wright Flyer was turned over to the Smithsonian in 1948 for display, that a "contract" was agreed upon stating that if the Smithsonian were to ever again identify some other aeroplane as being the first capable of controlled and powered manned flight prior to the Wright's first flights in December of 1903, then the Flyer would revert to the Wright Estate. This agreement makes total sense. Those who would discredit the Wrights of their rightful place in history cry "Contract Controversy!", which is total nonsense. I had intended to write a post on this subject, but found that all I would have said has already been well stated at the following posts at www.wright-brothers.org.
The two posts are called The Smithsonian Contract, and The Case of Gustave Whitehead. My only comment is to oppose the suggestion made at the conclusion of the post that perhaps it is time for a change, and that a joint statement from the Smithsonian and the Wright heirs be offered stating that they will consider amending the agreement should someone present credible evidence of someone else obtaining first flight. No, I suggest no such agreement as it would only embolden the historical revisionists, suggesting perhaps that there may be some truth to their fantasies. It has been over 110 years since the first flight of December 17th, 1903! What about other established historical events? We don't need an agreement, for example, that if someone present credible evidence that perhaps George Washington wasn't our first president, we'll dismantle the Washington Monument. We don't need an agreement that if perhaps someone present credible evidence that the South won the Civil War, we'll divide the Union. We don't need an agreement that if perhaps someone present credible evidence that Neal Armstrong wasn't the first to set foot on the moon, we'll close down the Armstrong Air and Space Museum. These are all events well established in history, as is the event of first flight, December 17th, 1903.