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Patriotic Article
Heroes and Patriots

By Derek Kaufman

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Two Brothers From Dayton Taught The World To Fly
(December 27, 2009)

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WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (12/18/2009 - AFNS) -- Aviation enthusiasts, Air Force officials and local government leaders gathered here Dec. 17 to remember how two brothers from Dayton, Ohio, changed the world.

The brief ceremony, held adjacent to the Wright Brothers Memorial on base, recognized the 106th anniversary of the first powered flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C., by Orville and Wilbur Wright.
Members of the Wright family and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, placed a wreath at the Wright Brothers Memorial Dec. 17, 2009, during a ceremony marking the 106th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first powered flight. Amanda Wright Lane, great grand-niece of the brothers and Stephen Wright, great grand-nephew, pose with Col. Brad Spacy (left) and Brig. Gen. Paul Sampson. Colonel Spacy is 88th Air Base Wing commander and General Sampson is mobilization assistant to the commander of Aeronautical Systems Center.
Members of the Wright family and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, placed a wreath at the Wright Brothers Memorial Dec. 17, 2009, during a ceremony marking the 106th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first powered flight. Amanda Wright Lane, great grand-niece of the brothers and Stephen Wright, great grand-nephew, pose with Col. Brad Spacy (left) and Brig. Gen. Paul Sampson. Colonel Spacy is 88th Air Base Wing commander and General Sampson is mobilization assistant to the commander of Aeronautical Systems Center. U.S. Air Force photo and by Bonnie White
"We cannot envision the problems they faced," said Brig. Gen. Paul Sampson, keynote speaker for the annual First Flight ceremony. "What a life they had."

General Sampson donned a hat and coat immediately recognizable as being from the early 1900s and traced the history of the Wright brothers, their fascination with the vexing problems of manned flight and how they worked together to methodically solve them. He acknowledged the Airmen and civilian employees at Wright-Patt who carry on their legacy, developing and acquiring new aerospace systems. General Sampson currently serves as mobilization assistant to the commander of Aeronautical Systems Center.

"What started here 106 years ago literally changed the course of human development. That's a big deal," said Col. Brad Spacy, 88 Air Base Wing commander.

Standing next to the Wright Brothers Memorial, a 17-foot granite obelisk overlooking the historic Huffman Prairie Flying Field where the Wright brothers returned after their success at Kitty Hawk and perfected their aircraft, Colonel Spacy and Stephen Wright, great grand nephew of the Wright brothers, placed a wreath commemorating the historic first flight.

"To know that 106 years later we'd still get together on the anniversary of that flight and celebrate a little bit, I think would have been very gratifying to Wilbur and Orville," Mr. Wright said.

Today, Huffman Prairie Flying Field and the Wright Brothers Memorial are among several sites in the Dayton region which make up the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park, operated by the National Park Service. Dean Alexander is the park's superintendent.

"In these challenging times, the story of Wilbur and Orville Wright reminds us of what can be accomplished when imagination is combined with tenacity," Mr. Alexander said, reading a proclamation signed by President Barack Obama which designated Dec. 17, 2009, as Wright Brothers Day.

Immediately after the ceremony, representatives of organizations comprising the National Aviation Heritage Area, held a news conference on plans for 2010. Congress created the area to encourage partnerships to preserve historic aviation resources in southwest Ohio and promote heritage tourism and educational programs. Some of the events noted included:

-- Hawthorn Hill, a historic Dayton mansion built by Orville Wright, has been added to the list of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park sites.

-- Two Wright B Flyers, flyable look-alikes of the first aircraft flown by the U.S. military, will participate in a March 2 reenactment at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. There they will recreate the first flights by Lt. Benjamin Foulois, who had been directed by his commander to "teach himself to fly" the Signal Corp's first military aircraft. Officials also are in the initial stages of planning a Nov. 7, 2010, Wright B Flyer flight from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to Columbus, Ohio, commemorating the first ever commercial cargo delivery by air. A third Wright B Flyer, currently being built, can be viewed at the Dayton Wright Brothers Airport in Miamisburg, Ohio.

-- The Doolittle Tokyo Raiders will hold their 68th reunion April 16-18 at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. Of the nine living Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, five are currently able to travel and plan to be on-hand for the reunion events. The Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Association, Inc. is currently seeking sponsors to fund a fly-in of 25 B-25 Mitchell bombers during the reunion. If their efforts are successful, the fly in will mark the largest gathering of B-25s since WWII.

-- In the summer 2010, a replica Wright G Flyer, a seaplane variant developed by the Wright brothers, will go on display at Dayton's Carillon Historical Park. The aircraft will be placed in a new 28,000 square-foot educational facility located just yards from the only aircraft designated a national historic landmark: the original Wright Flyer III flown 24 miles by Wilbur Wright on Oct. 5, 1905, often considered the "world's first practical airplane."

By Derek Kaufman
88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Copyright 2009

Reprinted from Air Force News Service

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