Last March, Connecticut passed a piece of legislation that would interest not only Americans but the entire world:
Gustave Whitehead, a Connecticutter(Connecticutian??) flew the world's first powered aircraft in August 1901, over two years before the Wright brothers did in North Carolina. This was based on some new photo evidence that was uncovered recently.
However, many still doubt the authenticity of claims for Whitehead, none more so than the people of North Carolina who proudly have "First in Flight" on their license plate.
Tom Crouch, an aeronautical historian and curator at the Smithsonian Institute, wrote a very detailed analysis of the on-going debate here:
It's a bit long, but the bottom line is: there is not evidence to prove that Whitehead flew before the Wright brothers, but not enough to disprove either.
Interestingly though, under a contract between Wright bros and the Smithsonian, the Smithsonian MUST recognize the Wright plane as the first airplane. This contract is still in effect today.
Conflict of interest there? It appears so. But there is a lot of fine print, and being no lawyer, I can't say for sure.
Anyone lawyers/historians out there that knows more about this??