Aviation Writers Summit participants interview Joe Engle by the X-15 in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force's new building.
Aviation Writers Summit participants interview Joe Engle by the X-15 in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force's new building.

Aviation Writers Summit spotlights NAHA sites

In NAHA News /

The National Aviation Heritage Area is receiving national publicity for its treasure trove of aviation heritage sites as a result of its first Aviation Writers Summit.

The NAHA Aviation Writers Summit Presented by Dayton International Airport brought aviation writers and editors to the heritage area for an intensive schedule of heritage site visits from Sept. 30 through Oct. 2. The summit included a reception in the National Aviation Hall of Fame Learning Center, a welcome program in the Air Force Museum Theatre, dinner in the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force and a reception and tour of Hawthorn Hill.

Bonus activities included orientation flights for several participants in the Champaign Aviation Museum’s B-25 bomber “Champaign Gal” and an opportunity to interview retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Joe Engle, a former astronaut and the only living X-15 test pilot, as the National Museum rolled its first airplane—an X-15—into its brand-new fourth building.

Aviation Writers Summit participants on the Archives Track inspect Joe Kittinger's pressure suit in the Research Division of the National Museum of U.S. Air Force. Conservator Jennifer Myers is in white sweater and purple gloves.

Aviation Writers Summit participant Joe Wynbrandt (left) inspects the gear Joe Kittinger wore on his record-setting parachute jump in the Research Division of the National Museum of U.S. Air Force.

Zach Rosenberg, an associate editor for Air and Space Smithsonian, posted a blog titled “Aviation Town, USA.” It highlighted several sites across the eight-county Heritage Area with the comment that “for those fascinated by the Wrights’ invention and its follow-ons, Dayton is hallowed ground.”

Hal Bryan, senior editor of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA’s) family of publications, extolled “the rich and fascinating aviation history the area has to offer” in a post titled “In the Footsteps of Giants.”

Jill Tallman, technical editor of AOPA Pilot, gave an update on the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association’s continuing coverage of NAHA’s efforts to save and restore the original Wright Company factory. She also reported on the National Museum’s plans to open its fourth building next year.

Paul Dye, editor of Kitplanes, found an angle for airplane homebuilders in the museum’s X-15 roll-in: he revealed Engle was not only a legendary test pilot, but also “a homebuilder from way back.”

NAHA partners pulled together to create the aviation summit, and some summit participants found the collaboration itself  noteworthy. Bryan called it “a textbook example of how disparate groups can—and must—work together to promote aviation and preserve its history.” Scott Spangler, editor of the blog Jetwhine.com, described the Heritage Alliance’s cooperative effort as “a model for the rebirth of aviation”.

NAHA is evaluating whether to hold another such summit and what form it would take. But it has already heard from other aviation writers asking to attend the next one.

Dayton International Airport is the summit’s presenting sponsor. Other sponsors include: AAA Allied Group Inc.; Air Force Museum Foundation; Champaign Aviation Museum; Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park; Dayton History; the Greene, Miami and Montgomery County Convention and Visitors Bureaus; Marriott at University of Dayton; National Aviation Hall of Fame; United Airlines; Wright “B” Flyer; Wright Bothers Family Foundation, and Wright State University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives.

About NAHA
The National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) is a private, not-for-profit corporation designated by Congress as the management entity of the National Aviation Heritage Area. NAHA’s vision is for the Heritage Area to be the recognized center of aviation heritage tourism and aerospace innovation, sustaining the legacy of the Wright Brothers. The National Aviation Heritage Area is one of 49 National Heritage Areas in a program administered by the National Park Service. It encompasses eight Ohio counties—Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Clark, Warren, Champaign, Shelby and Auglaize. Visit www.aviationheritagearea.org to learn more about NAHA.