DAYTON, Ohio—Longtime heritage volunteer Jerry Gecowets of Urbana is the winner of the National Aviation Heritage Alliance’s 2016 Ivonette Wright Miller Award.
NAHA’s annual awards also recognized the Dayton International Airport and its director, Terrence Slaybaugh, and the Wright State University Libraries Special Collections and Archives and its head of archives, Dawne Dewey.
The awards were presented at NAHA’s annual meeting on Thursday, Aug. 23, at historic Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum.
The Ivonette Wright Miller Award honors the memory of the niece of Wilbur and Orville Wright, who served as the family spokeswoman and preserved valuable Wright family records and artifacts.
Gecowets received the award for his volunteer services as NAHA’s treasurer for 11 years, president of the Grimes Flying Lab Foundation and board member of the Champaign Aviation Museum. Gecowets, who is also a business executive, engineer and pilot, was instrumental in preserving and restoring the Grimes Flying Lab airplane, which was used as a flying testbed for Grimes aircraft lighting systems.
The Wick Wright Award is named for Wilkinson “Wick” Wright, grandnephew of Wilbur and Orville, who represented the Wright family for many years. It recognizes a person or organization that has been supportive of NAHA or a NAHA partner. Dayton International Airport and Slaybaugh received the Wick Wright Award for supporting various aviation programs, including Air Camp USA, and for hosting a visit by the Solar Impulse II aircraft and team on short notice. The Solar Impulse II project, which successfully flew an airplane around the world on solar power, drew worldwide attention to Dayton and its Wright brothers heritage when it stopped here in May.
The PROPS (Partner Recognition of Phenomenal Support) Award goes to a NAHA partner for outstanding support of one or more NAHA partners. Wright State archives and Dewey received the award for providing historical resources to NAHA partners and others, including David McCullough, who made extensive use of the archives’ Wright Brothers Collection in researching his best-selling book The Wright Brothers. The book has increased visitation to the Heritage Area.
The National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) is a nonprofit chartered by Congress in 2004 as the management entity for the National Aviation Heritage Area, a region of national historical importance encompassing Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Clark, Warren, Champaign, Shelby, and Auglaize counties. The Heritage Area is one of 49 National Heritage Areas in a program administrated by the National Park Service, and the only one dedicated to aviation heritage. Visit aviationheritagearea.org for more information.