Dayton, Ohio and Aviation History

Wright Brothers and Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

We visited the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park today, where we learned about the Wright brothers.

These men were truly remarkable.

They were not trained scientists or engineers. They did not attend college. They were not wealthy and they had no special privileges.

The brothers began their partnership by running a printing shop together. They started by publishing their own newspaper, then expanded to printing orders for other businesses. At one point, they even built their own printing press.

Eventually, they became interested in bicycles, which were becoming popular in the 1890s. They started out by fixing bicycles for friends, then opened their own bicycle repair shop. The business expanded as they began to fabricate and sell their own bicycles.

Then they started thinking about flying machines. They had watched as famous scientists had tried unsuccessfully to tackle the problem of powered, manned flight.

Through several amazing insights, along with methodical testing, experimenting, and much persistence, they learned first how to build and fly gliders, then eventually a powered, manned, controllable flying machine.

Replica of 1902 glider

It took many iterations, lots of crashes, repeated repairs and redesigns, and a refusal to give in to discouragement.

They were learning not only how to build an airplane, but also teaching themselves how to fly.

The first powered flight took place on December 17, 1903. Only 66 years later, Neil Armstrong was stepping on the moon.

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

This free museum is one of the best aviation museums in the country.

We took several hours to walk through the four huge hangers full of aircraft.

Our favorite was Building 4, where we saw the Apollo 15 command module (it carried three men to the moon and back) and walked through several versions of Air Force One.

This is what a thermonuclear hydrogen bomb looks like

Apollo 15 Command Module


JFK’s Air Force One

Junior Ranger Badges

  • Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park

Travel Tips:

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

  • There are two visitor centers for this park, so make sure to plan enough time to visit both. Each visitor center has its own Junior Ranger badge.

National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

  • They absolutely do not allow outside food or drinks (even bottled water) in the musuem. There are a couple of cafes inside for snacks or lunch.

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