On a recent visit to Dayton, we almost left town without visiting this essential historic site! We didn’t have much time and had come to town specifically to visit the United States Air Force Museum and to see the Princess Diana exhibit at the Dayton Art Institute.
On a lark, we decided to check out some of the sites on the Aviation Trail. It seemed a shame to visit the birthplace of aviation without learning more about the Wright Brothers. We did visit their gravesite at Woodland Cemetery, and drove by the impressive family residence (which is privately owned and used as a corporate guest house), but we hadn’t visited any of the other sites around town.
We were so glad we stopped at the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park! It was a fabulous overview of the Wright Brothers’ story, complete with interactives that even helped ME understand the mechanics of flight.
My husband, who has his private pilot’s license, has attempted to explain aerodynamics to me a thousand times, but it wasn’t until I used some of the hands-on components at this museum that something in my brain “clicked.” Flight started to make sense to me! Imagine how many young minds are opened to the possibilities of aviation with these well thought out interactive displays…
There are two buildings at the Wright Cycle Company Complex – an original Wright Brothers bicycle shop and a restored storefront with modern exhibits, including a tribute to African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. The restoration and its exhibits are brand new, with a keen eye toward good museum design. The spaces are light and airy, with interesting labels and innovative design.
When we arrived, we viewed a short film featuring several reenactments of the Wright Brothers’ original flights. It was extremely well done, and provided a wonderful overview of the early days of what the National Park Service terms “practical flight.”
Across a small plaza is the Wright Cycle Company, with even more exhibits explaining how their early work on bicycles influence their airplane design.
The entire complex is located in an older neighborhood that has recently undergone a renaissance. Homes gleam with new siding and fences, with a few “works in progress” sprinkled in between.
We were happy to have had the opportunity to visit this wonderful museum. And despite the high quality of the experience, admission was free!