DAYTON, Ohio—The National Aviation Heritage Area on Thursday, Dec. 17, celebrated the 112th anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first powered flights with a variety of events and activities—on the ground, and in the air.
Under an usually sunny sky for December in Ohio, NAHA officials and Ohio Rep. Rick Perales joined officials from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park at the Wright Brothers Memorial on Wright-Patterson for the annual wreath-laying ceremony.
Base Commander Col. John M. Devillier joined Amanda Wright Lane, great grandniece of Wilbur and Orville Wright, and her brother Stephen Wright, great-grandnephew of the brothers, to place a wreath at the base of the monument.
Guest speaker was Greg Herrick, president of the Aviation Foundation of America and owner of the Golden Wings Flying Museum, one of the largest holdings of vintage aircraft in the United States. Herrick recounted how Wilbur and Orville, working in their Dayton bicycle shop and on the shores of North Carolina’s Outer Banks, overcame formidable challenges with diligent research and brilliant thinking.
Perales, R-Beavercreek, presented a framed copy of House Concurrent Resolution 8, sponsored by him and passed this year by both chambers of the Ohio legislature, repudiating Connecticut for claiming the Wright brothers were not the first to fly a powered, heavier-than-air machine.
Frank Winslow, chair of NAHA’s board of trustees, presented the fourth annual Mitch Cary-Don Gum Memorial Aviation Scholarship to Blaine Johnson of Troy, a Sinclair Community College aviation technology student who is pursuing a commercial aviation career. Johnson, who has been taking flying lessons and volunteers at the WACO Air Museum in Troy, will receive up to $1,500 toward his pilot’s license.
Capping the event was an unofficial flyby of an Air Force C-17 as the huge, four-engine transport jet took off on a mission from Wright-Patterson’s nearby airfield.
At 2 p.m., NAHA conducted its final scheduled tour for the year of the Wright Company factory, built by the Wright brothers’ company in 1910 and 1911. The two-building factory was the first in America built for the purpose of producing airplanes. The free, monthly tours of the unrestored factory are scheduled to resume on March 18, 2016.
Aviation Trail Inc.’s annual First Flight Anniversary event was scheduled for Thursday evening at Dayton History’s Carillon Historical Park, home of the Wright brothers’ 1905 Wright Flyer III, considered to be the world’s first practical flying machine.
See more photos of the First Flight Anniversary on our Facebook page.
About the Wright brothers
Wilbur and Orville Wright lived in Dayton, Ohio and built their gliders and first powered airplanes in their bicycle shop in West Dayton. On Dec. 17, 1903, Orville made the first flight of their powered flyer, taking off from a track and flying forward against the wind, covering 120 feet in 12 seconds. The brothers made two flights each that day. The fourth and final flight, by Wilbur, covered 852 feet in 59 seconds.
After those flights, the Wright brothers continued their flight experiments on Huffman Prairie in Greene County. The Huffman Prairie Flying Field is now on a publicly accessible part of Wright-Patterson, a unit of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, and one of many historic aviation sites in the National Aviation Heritage Area. The Wright Memorial overlooks Huffman Prairie.
Wilbur and Orville patented their invention in 1906, demonstrated it to the world in 1908 and formed the Wright Company to manufacture airplanes in 1909. They built America’s first airplane factory in 1910, adding a second building in 1911. The Wright Company factory buildings are the last buildings still standing in Dayton where Wright airplanes were made.
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.