There’s a problem with Ohio’s new license plate

This morning, Ohio’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles unveiled a new design for the state’s standard license plates which goes into effect on December 29th. It’s the first time the state has updated its standard plate design since 2013. This design has garnered a lot of attention and criticism already. I mean, it’s a bit cheesy, isn’t it. Especially compared to the more simple red, white, and blue design they have now (called Ohio Pride). But individual tastes aside, there’s actually a problem with this new design.

At the top of this place is a silhouette of the famous Wright Flyer. It’s depicted here towing a banner touting the state’s slogan – “Ohio – Birthplace of Aviation”. For a state that constantly reminds us how they were home to the Wright Brothers, you’d think they would know a little bit about the world-changing invention of their most famous residents. In particular, which direction the plane flew.

The Wright Flyer is backwards. If the intention was to depict the Wright Flyer towing that banner, which it certainly seems to, then it’s doing so while flying exactly the wrong way.

Just as one of my friends sent me the link to that tweet so we could make fun of the new plate design, he picked up on this right away. And boy were we laughing pretty hard.

I’m assuming that the plate’s creators weren’t familiar with the aircraft’s design (to put it lightly) and made assumptions based on the more modern aircraft we’re used to seeing today. The vast majority of propeller-driven aircraft since then have had an engine at the front pushing air backwards, wing(s) in the middle, and elevators/vertical stabilizers in the back. But back in 1903, the Wright Brothers got something different to work. Theirs had the elevator up front in the wind, wings and engine in the middle, and the propellers in the back with the rudders extending behind them. That’s just how they did it back then. So it’s not unlikely that someone unfamiliar with the Wright Flyer might look at it and think “engine goes in the front, elevators are in the back, so this is the direction it goes”.

But still, for the Birthplace of Aviation to get that wrong on something that will go on millions of cars is pretty hilarious. Then again, they can’t even get the name of their own agency right on their Twitter profile. No word yet on whether the Ohio Bureau Motor of Vehicles Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles is aware of this flaw or what they plan to do to address it, if anything.

UPDATE: The Ohio BMV has acknowledged their mistake and issued a corrected image, adding that this is the version which will be given to Ohio’s motorists after Dec 29. All’s well that ends well, I suppose. But it was good for some laughs.

Also, it seems the Ohio BMV is a fan of the site because they’ve fixed the name of their Twitter account since this was published. Kidding of course – we don’t have fans.

[Source: @Ohio_BMV, @HEF51]

I'm the guy that spoiled the site with all the new car stuff. Hooniverse News Editor since 2011, amateur motorsport photographer, sim racer, and mountain road enthusiast.

10 Comments

  1. The problem’s not just with the plane and banner. The swing shown in silhouette appears to be suspended from so far towards the edge of the tree’s crown that at least one side, if not both, is not plausibly connected to anything more substantial than a twig.

    Ohio: The “We Don’t Know How to Attach Things to Other Things” State.

    1. The shadow cast by that tree is in the wrong direction relative to the sun’s location near the horizon. The light reflecting off the water on the left side of the plate is similarly wrong.

      Is there a Federal standard for license plate dimensions? If not, the redesign would be a perfect opportunity for Ohio to introduce a plate that’s round at both ends and hi in the middle…

  2. The standard explanation for the inappropriate release of one sheet of the “Inverted Jenny” stamps in 1918 was that the clerk who completed the sale hadn’t realized there was a problem because he had never seen an airplane. Perhaps this remains true to this very day for whoever designs plates for the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

  3. Whenever I am asked to “tell a joke” I deliver a variant of that plate:
    “X is dragging a rope through the village. Y asks ‘Why are you pulling that rope there?’ X replies’I really tried, but I simply can’t push it’. “

  4. That’s a very strange mishap, with the plane, the swing, the light and shadow…I mean, I do my share of mistakes as well, including at work, but I’m not alone. Somebody will check my stuff, as I check theirs, and in the end, our varying levels of stupidity deliver a livable result of professionality. How come nobody checked this? Is a state’s license plate the responsibility of one clerk and their mad MS Paint skills?

    1. Two (or more) wrongs make a Wright.

      The plane’s direction has already been revised. See update above.

  5. Am I the only one who is annoyed that the new “correct” plane is simply a mirror of the wrong one and is now out of perspective and not properly aligned with the banner? I mean, the original was clearly wrong, but at least it was rendered properly.

    And the banner is connected to the end of the wing!

    I’m not sure I can drive around with this on my car.

  6. That’s got to call into question the assertions over here in the UK that plates have to be big, bare and standardised so they can be easily read, not least by ANPR. Still, I’m not sure I’d want strangers to know I’m from ‘Puddleduck in The Shire, Birthplace of the Pie’ or some such.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

The maximum upload file size: 64 MB. You can upload: image, audio, video. Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded. Drop files here