The unveiling of Ohio’s newest license plate may go down as one of the biggest “ope” moments in state history.
In October, Gov. Mike DeWine revealed the “Sunrise in Ohio” plate that features a city skyline, wheat fields and a child and dog playing by a tree. It also depicted the Wright Flyer as a nod to Ohio’s place in aviation history – with a banner flying from the wrong end of the plane.
The banner, which reads “Birthplace of Aviation,” was incorrectly attached to the historic plane’s smaller “elevators” at the front. The result: It appeared to be traveling backward.
The Ohio Department of Public Safety quickly acknowledged and corrected the mistake, but not before 35,000 plates were printed with the original design.
So, what happened to the plates?
The department planned to recycle them.
Specifically, inmates at Lebanon Correctional Institution run the misprints through a machine that chops them up, and that aluminum is recycled. That means you won’t be able to snag a collector’s item from the recycling bin.
Why not give them away?
DPS spokeswoman Lindsey Bohrer said the department didn’t consider an auction or other giveaway for the original plates.
“It is a best practice that license plates in a series are consistent in design,” she said.
How did this happen in the first place?
DeWine and first lady Fran DeWine were involved in the design process and reviewed multiple iterations of the plate. They wanted the design to reflect the geographic diversity of Ohio and the state seal.
“We probably drove them crazy,” the governor said after the unveiling.
Even with several pairs of eyes overseeing the process, the DeWines and Bureau of Motor Vehicles didn’t catch the error. Bohrer cast the backward plane as an “honest mistake.”
“I’m sure you’ve read or seen the same stories that I have where historians acknowledge that the plane does not look like today’s aircraft in that the front looks like the tail and vice versa,” she said.
DeWine’s office declined to comment.
When will the correct plates be available?
The “Sunrise in Ohio” plates will become standard starting Dec. 29. Meanwhile, the BMV wants Ohioans who still have the “Ohio Gold” plate – first issued in 1997 – to get a new one in the name of public safety.
Haley BeMiller is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.