While we’ve always known it to be true, Dayton is now officially the birthplace of aviation.
Dayton History announced on Aug. 31 at its home at Carillon Historical Park that its John W. Berry Sr. Wright Brothers Aviation Center will now become the Wright Brothers National Museum — with an official national designation.
Congressman Michael Turner was one of the guests at a special event for Dayton History members, the media and community stakeholders to pull back the drape to reveal the official signage, complete with the iconic National Park Service arrowhead emblem.
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“The Air Force Museum is the National United States Air Force Museum. This is now the National Museum for the Wright Brothers,” Turner said. “I think that kinship will help people as they come to our community to know they need to visit all these sites to see the incredible legacy of flight and aviation right here in Dayton, Ohio.”
Joining the some 100 Daytonians present to witness the milestone were Wilbur and Orville’s relatives Amanda Wright Lane and Stephen Wright, great-grandniece and great-grandnephew of the Wright brothers.
“I believe Carillon Park has always held some of the most magnificent artifacts that are still left that tell the Wright Brothers story,” Lane said. “In terms of the ‘05 ‘Flyer’ that really ushered in the age of aviation and the camera, the camera that took that photograph in 1903. ... The title of National Museum of the Wright Brothers is well-deserved.”
To earn the “National Museum” designation, an institution incorporated within National Parks system, is no overnight deal. It actually takes years of Congressional workings to secure the title. Brady Kress, president and CEO of Dayton History, helped lead the journey to National Museum from the very beginning.
“It’s huge ... We know Congress and the executive branch and the federal government agrees with us — that as a private, non-profit museum, we are the national site to learn this history, this heritage. It’s pretty cool,” Kress said.
The backdrop of the morning’s ceremony — and now the view one has while admiring the official signage — is the Wright Cycle Co. building — drawn right from the Wright Brothers’ days in Dayton.
The John W. Berry Sr. Wright Brothers National Museum at Carillon Historical Park is open to the public. Formerly named the Wright Brothers Aviation Center, the exhibit includes the 1905 Wright Flyer III: the only airplane designated a National Historic Landmark, the first practical flying machine, and what the Wright brothers considered their most important aircraft.