NASA show reflects Ohio tech, heritage

In Monument and Heritage Site, NAHA News Release, Wright Image Group /

For immediate release
Friday, November 30, 2012

Timothy R. Gaffney
Director of Communications
(937) 219-8277 (mobile)

Editors: Photos available upon request

CLEVELAND, Ohio—Aerospace technologists and enthusiasts got a glimpse of Ohio-made NASA space technology in Cleveland this week—as well as its roots in Dayton’s aviation heritage.

NASA Glenn Research Center ‘s three-day NASA Technology Days wraps up Friday, Nov. 30, at the Cleveland Public Auditorium and Conference Center. An opening day reception Wednesday at the Great Lakes Science Center featured a model of a skyscraping Wright Flyer monument planned for the I-70/75 interchange north of Dayton.

NASA hosted Technology Days to showcase technology available for transfer to the aerospace, energy, automotive, manufacturing and health industries. The Glenn Research Center is one of NASA’s 10 major research centers.

The Wright Image Group displayed a model of its planned Wright Icon at Wednesday evening’s reception, which was hosted by the Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Council. The project has drawn NASA’s interest, and the group is working with Glenn engineers on a plan to test the monument’s design in the center’s big 9×15-foot wind tunnel.

“Given that the Wright brothers were sons of Ohio and that NASA Glenn Research Center is a leader within Ohio for aerospace work, it is most appropriate that we should work on the Wright Icon project,” said Ray Lugo, director of the NASA Glenn Research Center.

The Wright Image Group’s goal is to brand the Dayton area and Ohio as the birthplace of aviation with a 25-story-high Wright Flyer monument that would tower over the I-70/75 interchange north of Dayton on a 250-foot-tall pedestal.

Three times bigger than the original flyer and lit up at night, the icon would be visible to motorists in more than 52 million vehicles each year, the group says.

Two people regard the Wright Flyer monument model and concept illustrations. The Wright Image Group of Dayton displayed a model of its planned 250-foot-tall Wright Flyer monument in the Great Lakes Science Center at a reception for attendees of NASA Technology Days in Cleveland. The group is working on an agreement with NASA to test a model of the monument in a wind tunnel.

Wright Icon model displayed in Cleveland, OH

The Wright Image Group is in the early stages of fundraising for the estimated $12 million project, but when finished it would be the most visible aviation heritage site within the eight-county National Aviation Heritage Area surrounding Dayton. The group is a partner organization of the federally designated heritage area.

NASA’s interest in the Wright Flyer monument project reflects its close ties with Ohio’s aviation heritage and its aerospace industry.

“By holding Technology Days, NASA clearly shows it wants to work more closely with the commercial sector and academia to grow the economy and create jobs,” Lugo said.

The work at Glenn Research Center is important to the Dayton region because it complements the region’s technical strengths, said Joe Zeis, executive vice president and chief strategic officer of the Dayton Development Coalition.

“NASA Glenn is a part of our aerospace value proposition in the state,” said Zeis, who attended NASA Technology Days for the coalition and as chair of the aerospace and aviation council.

For example, Glenn Research Center has expertise in secure communications and command and control technology, which are important to unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.

“One of the aerospace elements the council is focused on, and a growing industrial base in Ohio, is UAVs,” Zeis said.

The Glenn Research Center’s statewide economic output was $1.33 billion in 2011, a Cleveland State University study found. The output was economic activity the research center stimulated with $738 million in spending, much of it with funds from outside the state.

Much of the impact is concentrated around the research center northeastern Ohio—its main site in Cleveland and its Plum Brook Station near Sandusky employ 1,700 federal civilians, more than half of them scientists and engineers. But its work extends across the state.

Gary Conley, co-chair of the aerospace and aviation council, said the Glenn Research Center is a part of Ohio’s “economic ecosystem.”

“NASA Glenn’s technologies integrate well with other technologies in the state’s aerospace industry,” said Conley, who is also president of TechSolve, a Cincinnati-based organization that provides manufacturing consulting and technology help to companies.

Some of Glenn Research Center’s work includes developing technology that will help the aerospace industry make aircraft engines quieter, cleaner and more efficient. Conley said its power and propulsion work dovetails with the Air Force Research Laboratory’s power and propulsion programs at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and meshes well with General Electric’s growing engine and power systems work in the Cincinnati and Dayton areas.

About the National Aviation Heritage Area

The National Aviation Heritage Area includes Montgomery, Greene, Miami, Clark, Warren, Champaign, Shelby and Auglaize counties in southwestern Ohio. The National Aviation Heritage Alliance is a not-for-profit corporation designated by Congress as the management entity of the heritage area. Its vision is to make the Dayton region the recognized global center of aviation heritage and premier destination for aviation heritage tourism, sustaining the legacy of the Wright brothers. Visit to learn more.