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Iconic Wright monument plan draws NASA’s attention
CLEVELAND, Ohio—A Dayton group’s plans to build a soaring monument of a Wright Flyer drew the aerospace industry’s attention Wednesday at a NASA technology show here.
The Wright Image Group displayed a model of its planned Wright Icon at a reception for attendees of NASA Technology Days. The three-day industry event showcases work at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.
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.
The project has received informal help from NASA Glenn engineers and won praise from the research center’s director, Ray Lugo.
“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,” Lugo said.
The aerospace industry is rooted in Ohio, where Wilbur and Orville Wright invented the airplane in their Dayton bicycle shop at the turn of the 20th century. Today it’s a major sector of the state’s economy and employs more than 100,000 workers in more than 1,200 companies, according to the Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Council.
The Wright Icon project would symbolize the industry’s ties to Ohio and Dayton in dramatic fashion, said Joe Zeis, chair of the council.
“The design points to our common heritage of aviation and aerospace here in Ohio,” said Zeis, who is also executive vice president and chief strategic officer of the Dayton Development Coalition.
The NASA Glenn Research Center plays a crucial role in Ohio as one of two federal aerospace research centers—along with the Air Force Research Laboratory near Dayton—that spur technology development and generate work for hundreds of Ohio companies.
The Wright Image Group is confirming an agreement with NASA Glenn to test a model of the proposed monument in the center’s 9-by-15 foot wind tunnel, said Curt Nelson, Wright Image Group’s vice president for public information. NASA intends to test the skyscraping monument’s ability to withstand high winds with heavy snow and ice loads—conditions the region has experienced.
NASA’s work would expand on smaller scale studies engineering students have carried out at the Ohio State University and the University of Dayton.
Nelson said NASA’s support is a sign that interest in the project is spreading across Ohio.
“NASA’s interest takes us out of the local project arena. It gives us exposure to the whole state,” Nelson said. “The icon doesn’t just brand Dayton as an aviation heritage destination. It brands the whole state of Ohio as an aerospace center.”
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.
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. Go towww.visitNAHA.org to learn more.