Dayton – February 2015 – Aviation History

Early in February 2015 found us in Dayton to learn about the history of flight, with an emphasis on Ohio.

Huffman Prairie Flying Field is an 84-patch of rough pasture, northeast of Dayton, where the Wright Brothers perfected the task of creating a dependable, fully controllable airplane and training themselves to be pilots. Many early aircraft records were set by the Wrights at the Huffman Prairie.

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Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center is located about 2 miles from the flying field on a hilltop overlooking Huffman Prairie and other parts of the Air Force Base. This center showed the specific problems the Wrights encountered while they were perfecting their airplane, as well as their first demonstration flights in the United States and in Europe, their exhibition team, and their manufacturing facility in Dayton, Ohio. There is also a memorial to the Wright Brothers at this location.

Nearby we visited the National Museum of the United States Air Force, the official museum of the US Air Force. The museum has one of the world’s largest collections with more than 360 aircraft and missiles on display.

The museum’s collection contains many rare aircraft of historical or technological importance, and various memorabilia and artifacts from the history and development of aviation. The permanent collections include one of four surviving Convair B36s, the only surviving XB-70 Valkyrie, and Bockscar, the planed that dropped the atomic bomb.

In addition the museum has several Presidential aircrafts, including those used by FDR, Truman and Eisenhower. The centerpiece is the aircraft known as SAM 26000, used by Presidents Kennedy through Nixon. This aircraft took President and Mrs Kennedy to Dallas, and was the one used to swear in Johnson after the Kennedy assassination.

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On the south side of Dayton, we went to Carillon Park, historical park and museum, which contains buildings and exhibits concerning the history of technology and the history of Dayton and its residents from 1796 to the present.

The Wright Brothers Aviation Center houses the 1905 Wright Flyer III, the world’s first practical airplane. The airplane, was restored from 1948 to 1950 with the initial consultation of Orville Wright before his 1948 death.

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An original lock of the Miami and Erie Canal is located on the grounds, as is a canal toll office. The transportation center vehicles include a few locally built cars, a Conestoga Wagon, an Interurban, a few raicars and a trolley bus.

The park is named for the 151-foot-tall Deeds Carillon. The art modern-style carillon tower was built in 1942, funded with 57 bells, the carillon is Ohio’s largest.

The Carillon Brewing Company is a fully operational 1850s style brewery and restaurant. We enjoyed the sights and smells of the brewing process, and were able to sample some of the beer with our lunch. An exhibit featuring the history of brewing in the Dayton area is also included in the building.

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In addition to the beer, they had excellent German food. We had wurst and and a club sandwich (she still hates German food)

Back in Dayton we went to the Dayton Aviation Heritage Historic Park. This National Park service facility commemorates three important historical figures – Wilbur Wright, Orville Wright and Paul Laurence Dunbar. How a poet got in an Aviation Historic Park is beyond me.

The Wright Cycle Company & Printing Offices are located at 22 South Williams Street in Dayton, and is one of many shops they used in the development of the airplane, but the only one still standing, as is part of the Dayton Aviation Heritage Historic Park.