WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio—The National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) presented its third annual Mitchell Cary-Don Gum Memorial Aviation Scholarship on Wednesday, Dec. 17, at the Wright Brothers Memorial as part of the First Flight anniversary ceremony, marking 111 years of powered flight.
NAHA Chairman Frank Winslow announced the award, worth $1,500 in flight instructions, as Wright “B” Flyer President Jay Jabour presented it to Michael Griffith, a Beavercreek High School junior. The award honors the memories of Mitch Cary and Don Gum, who were volunteer Wright “B” Flyer pilots.
“This is an honor for me to be here today to receive the Cary-Gum scholarship,” said Griffith, who aspires to become a naval aviator.
A highlight of the ceremony was a flyover of the Champaign Aviation Museum’s B-25 warbird “Champaign Gal.” Jerry Gecowets, treasurer of the museum based at Historic Grimes Field in Urbana, recounted the story of the famous Doolittle Raid on Tokyo as the airplane, the same type of medium bomber the raiders flew, made two passes over the memorial.
The Wright Brothers Memorial is a tall monument and plaza atop Wright Memorial Hill on a public part of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The hill overlooks the Huffman Prairie Flying Field, where the Wright brothers continued their experiments after their first powered flights at Kitty Hawk, N.C. The flying field is also on a public part of Wright-Patterson and is a unit of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.
Air Force Col. John M. Devillier, 88th Air Base Wing Commander, described how Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has grown from the Wright brothers’ work to become “the center of innovation for the U.S. Air Force.”
Dean Alexander, national park superintendent, read a presidential proclamation honoring the anniversary.
Devillier joined Amanda Wright Lane and her brother Stephen Wright, great-grand niece and great-grand nephew of Wilbur and Orville, to place a memorial wreath at the foot of the monument.
Guest speaker Dan Patterson, an aviation photographer and author, recounted the Wright brothers’ groundbreaking research and experimentation, most of which took place within a few miles of the memorial. In less than 10 years, they went from working in obscurity to making thrilling, public flights in France and at Fort Myer, Va.
“Those flights put Orville, Wilbur and Dayton, Ohio on the international map,” Patterson said.