Moon landing countdown Day 1: Dayton helped win race to the moon 50 years ago

The country will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the U.S. moon landing this week.

The race to the moon started in Dayton with the creation of manned flight more than six-and-a-half decades before the Apollo 11 mission.

Wilbur and Orville Wright first began working on their concept of a flying machine in Dayton and made their first flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina around 66 years before fellow Ohioan Neil Armstrong would take off for the moon.


» Wright-Patt helped Armstrong, Apollo 11 crew reach moon 50 years ago

» Listen to the mission: Apollo 11 audio replays moon landing 50 years later

The Air Force has helped to pave the way for advances in space technology and leadership, since the end of World War II, according to the National Museum of the United States Air Force. The Air Force has helped to develop missiles, astronautics and orbital technology, according to the museum.

In 1948, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base was established, combining Wright and Patterson fields. One of the first two men to walk on the moon has ties to Wright-Patt.

Buzz Aldrin's father, 1st Lt. Edwin Aldrin Sr., was one of the founders of the the Air School of Application in 1919. The school would eventually become known as the Air Force Institute of Technology, which is today based at Wright-Patt.

On display at the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patt is a model of the A7L worn by astronaut Michael Collins in July 1969 on the Apollo 11 mission. Collins was an Air Force Colonel and later a Major General, according to the museum.


In 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which came to be more commonly known as NASA, was established by former president Dwight D. Eisenhower. The new federal agency was tasked with conducting research and non-military space activity.

Come the 1960s, president John F. Kennedy pledged to put a man on the moon before the decade was over, according to NASA.

Kennedy’s “Special Message to Congress on Urgent National Needs” came on May 25, 1961 just three weeks after Mercury astronaut Alan B. Shepard became the first American in space.

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth,” Kennedy said.


• Wright State president asked Lake Campus dean to resign

• Ohio looks to become more military friendly with statewide proposal

• Brookville couple: Dealing with insurance companies after tornado ‘frustrating’

• Dayton in the spotlight: MSNBC town hall event discuses presidential race

• Central State, Wilberforce to merge some operations, campus services

About the Author