First Plane Flight In East Texas? - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/2/02 - Pittsburg

First Plane Flight In East Texas?

  East Texas is known for its historic homes and sites, but has an important part of East Texas history been left out of world history books?

  The City of Pittsburg is now adding space at a local museum for an aircraft which some say was the first plane to ever fly. Oddly enough, the plane in question, has nothing to do with the Wright brothers.

  The plane is called the Ezekiel Airship. It was built by a Pittsburg pastor Burrell Cannon in 1901. If the legend is true, Cannon beat the Wright brothers at flight by one year.

  Cannon's ancestors and some Pittsburg town folk say the Reverend's plane took off in 1902, but there's no pictures or records to confirm the flight.

"Everybody that saw it is now deceased and they just relayed those tales on to their children," said Ted Newsome, vice president of the Northeast Texas Rural Heritage Museum, where a replica of Rev. Cannon's plane is on display.

  Rev. Cannon's family says religion is what inspired him to build his aircraft in the first place. He name the plane after the bible's book of Ezekiel

  The verse that inspired him says,

  "The appearance of the wheels and their work was like unto the color of beryl; and they four had one likeness; and their appearance was as it were a wheel within the middle of the wheel. And when the living creatures went, the wheels went by them; and when the living creatures were lifted up from earth, the wheels were lifted up."

  "The machine (it) was built at the Pittsburg family and machine shop," said Pittsburg mayor Dave Abernathy. "They had to take the wall out to get the airship out, it was so wide and big."

  Even the plane's replica is having trouble fitting into the museum's space. "The room is only 25 feet wide and we had to leave the left wing off," said Newsome.

  An addition is being added to the building so the air-craft can hang with both wings spread. Pittsburg citizens hope this time the plane will get off the ground before the Wright brothers beat them to it, again

  "The big celebration for the Wright brothers is going to be December 17th," said Newsome. "So we were going to have ours at least hanging in the air before then."

  The museum's addition will be done in three months. If you'd like to visit the Ezekiel Airship in its current home...the museum is open Thurs. through Saturday, 10 a.m to 4 p.m.

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