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News Ardchives


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In Memoriam - Passing of Aviation Trail Board Member
Dayton, Ohio - December 28, 2019

Aviation Trail mourns the death of  Board member Angelina Popovich who passed away on December 10, 2019. Aviation Trail President Marvin Christian offers the following tribute:


"This month we lost a long-time Aviation Trail Board of Trustees member. Angie Popovich had served on our Board for almost twenty years before passing. She kept us abreast of activities of the West Third Street Priority Board having been the voice of neighborhood for many years. Never bashful, Angie was outspoken and her comments usually were right to the point. She had a sense of history and the importance of keeping the Wright-Dunbar area’s contribution to aviation a part of a young person’s education. We will miss the lady".

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Aviation Trail Awards Advisor Emeritus Status to Helen Jones
Dayton, Ohio - November 6, 2019

Aviation Trail, Inc. celebrated the retirement of a long time member of the ATI Board of Trustees. Helen Jones contributed twenty years of diligent service and support to the efforts of ATI to preserve Dayton;s aviation heritage. Helen has spent the last fifty years involved with aviation, having worked at WPAFB for thirty years prior to joining the board at ATI. She has been especially instrumental in organizing events, writing for the newsletter and other ATI publications, plus assisting others in these activities. As an Advisor Emeritus Helen will continue to keep in touch and offer her valuable assistance to Aviation Trail.

The event was held at a luncheon at Dayton History's newly remodeled Culps Cafeteria. As shown in the photos Helen was received some additional gifts presented by ATI president Marvin Christian. 


Above: Aviation Trail president Marvin Christian presents Helen Jones with a plaque designating Advisor Emeritus status.


Above: Additional gifts included a crystal vase and her very own "Wilbear Wright" teddy bear.

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Parachute Museum Displays at Inaugural Festival of Flight
Ann Armstrong-Ingoldsby, Aviation Trail Parachute Museum

Aviation Trail, Inc. Parachute Museum, Dayton, Ohio, joined the first Festival of Flight at Wright State University, October 5, 2019, along with some of the Miami Valley's leading aviation and community organizations dedicated to flight.  The festival celebrated aviation and the importance in the home of aviation on the annual Wright Brothers Day, when Wilbur Wright flew 39 minutes on Huffman Prairie in 1905. 

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For background information and history of Festival of Flight see

It also celebrated Leslie Irvin's first free fall jump 100 years ago in Dayton with the Parachute Museum's display at the festival. Curator Randy Zuercher and other volunteers put parachutes on visitors, showing skydiving gear and a military escape parachute.  How a parachute works was demonstrated in a model designed by Andrew Kididis, escape expert from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.  An eye catching 28-foot round parachute was inflated to show how it looks in the air.

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Visitors to the festival also experienced organizations' aviation relations such as Unmanned Aerial System training center from Sinclair Community College, and Wright State's Special Collections and Archives featuring Wright Brothers' personal items.  Many more features included music, food, several veterans softball and soccer games, and a reenactor Cincinnati Red Legs game, and fly-overs by a B-25 WWII bomber and WWI biplanes.  The festival will be an annual event celebrating aviation innovations in Dayton, including free fall jumps.


We want to offer a special tribute and thanks to Airborne Systems for their support of the Parachute Museum recognition of the 100th Anniversary of the first freefall by Mr. Leslie Irvin.  Airborne Systems is the company that Mr. Irvin founded to manufacture that first Model A freefall parachute rig and through these many years has become the industry leader in Military Parachute Design, Manufacturing and Training to countries all over the world.  Their help and material support made this initial year of the Festival of Flight a huge success for Aviation Trail and the Parachute Museum.  We appreciate all the fine hardworking folks at Airborne Systems. 

                           Randy Zuercher, Curator, Aviation Trail Parachute Museum

Photos from the Parachute Museum display, and more event in the slide show below:

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Troy Ohio’s “Pioneers of Aviation Statue Pavilion” Receives Aviation Trail Sign

Last year, on July 24, 2018, three large bronze statues were dedicated at Troy’s “Pioneers of Aviation Statue Pavilion” celebrating two past and one present member of Troy’s rich aviation history. One year later, in July of 2019, Aviation Trail, Inc. presented an Aviation Trail sign at the site, to include it among the over 50 sites in the Miami Valley that are recognized as significant in the area’s rich aviation history with “Aviation Trail” designation.

The pavilion, located at 134 N. Market St., Troy, Ohio, includes statues of Clayton Brukner, Robert Hartzell, and Nancy Currie-Gregg Ph.D. The sculptures were designed by artist Mike Major of Urbana.

Photos of the statues are shown below, followed by descriptive text: 


• Pictured on the Left: Troy resident Robert Hartzell  (1896 - 1968) founded the Hartzell Walnut Propeller Company in 1917 when he was still in college.  At the time he lived near Hawthorn Hill, the home of Orville Wright who encouraged his interest in aviation. He oversaw the creation of many technical advances in aviation, including the first composite propeller. He served as president of Hartzell Propeller until his passing. He was inducted in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2014.

• Pictured In the Center: Clayton Brukner (1896 - 1977) was one of the founders of Troy’s WACO Aircraft Co., which at one time was one of the biggest aircraft producers in the country. Besides its iconic biplanes, the company made trainers for the military during WWII, and gliders that were used in the Normandy landing.  He was inducted in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1997. He also  developed the Brukner Nature Center, a privately funded, nonprofit nature preserve dedicated to environmental education and wildlife rehabilitation.

• Pictured on the Right: Colonel Nancy Currier-Gregg, a graduate of Troy High School, served in the U.S. Army for 22 years and joined NASA in 1987 as an astronaut. She flew four space missions from 1993-2002. She completed 262 hours in space and orbited the Earth 165 times, flying 3.9 million miles. After her astronaut career, she served as principal engineer in NASA's engineering safety center and is currently a professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering at Texas A&M.

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98 Year Old Veteran Reenacts His WWII Jump in Netherlands
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On September 17, 2019, ninety-eight year old James Martin, of Xenia, Ohio parachuted over the Netherlands, in a reenactment of his wartime jump 75 years prior. The tandem jump, with jump partner Art Shaffer, landed in the village of Son, where he was honored by the Dutch as part of a celebration of their liberation from Nazi occupation.

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James “Pee Wee” Martin was a member of the 101st Airborne Division when he parachuted into the Netherlands on September 17, 1944 as a part of WWII’s Operation Market Garden.  The objective was for the airborne forces to gain entry into German territory and seize bridges to create a route for Allied ground troops into northern Germany. The effort failed to secure a foothold over the Rhine, but it did result in the liberation of several Dutch cities. The attack was the largest airborne operation up to that point in the war. Three months earlier Martin had jumped into combat during the D-Day invasion at Normandy.  Martin’s unit, the “Easy” Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division was featured in the HBO mini-series “Band of Brothers” which dramatized the unit’s activities from jump training through various actions in WWII.

Learn more about this story on James Martin’s Facebook page (with photos and video):

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Sinclair Student Volunteers Assist ATI in Historic Building Developement
Dayton, Ohio August 21, 2019

On July 16 several student volunteers from Sinclair Community College, under the leadership of Mary Rospert, helped with an Aviation Trail project in one of the Wright-Dunbar district's historic buildings as part of a Student Enrichment Program. They helped clean out rubble and debris, largely from deteriorating interior walls in the “Pekin Theater Building” at 1036 West Third Street. 

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The building is in the same block as the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, and was acquired by Aviation Trail, Inc., along with the adjacent “Western Fish Market” building, to be developed into an aviation educational site, and to expand the capacity of the current museum.

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These historic buildings will eventually be repurposed as the ATI HANGAR (Western Fish Market) 1042 West Third St. and the AVIATION EXPERIENCE GALLERY (Pekin Theater) 1036-1038 West Third St. To learn more about the proposed plans, see this link:

Before proceeding with the projected development, the structural walls of the building will need to be protected from the elements to prevent further deterioration. Contractors are set to begin this “protection” phase on the Pekin Theater building in mid-September, and are expected to take about four weeks to complete.


Aviation Trail thanks the student volunteers for their assistance.  Aviation Trail relies on the generous contributions of its members and donations by aviation enthusiasts to accomplish these projects, and you can help as well by going to the "MEMBERSHIP & DONATIONS" page of the website and giving what you can.

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37th Annual Trailblazer Award presented to Neil Armstrong and the Armstrong Air & Space Museum
Wapakoneta, Ohio, August 17, 2019 

Aviation Trail's 37th Annual Trailblazer Award was presented at a free ice cream social at the Armstrong Air & Space Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio, Saturday afternoon, Aug. 17, 2019. There were two awards given for 2019.

The recipients were Neil Armstrong (posthumously) for his first man on the moon achievement 50 years ago, and the Armstrong Air & Space Museum for memorializing Armstrong, the moon landing, and Ohio Aviation. 


Click the button below to see the report and photos from the 2019 Trailblazer Award: 

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CLICK HERE to see a list of the past yearly Trailblazer recipients.

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50th Anniversary Celebration of Apollo 11 Mission
at Armstrong Air & Space Museum
Wapakoneta, Ohio, June 11, 2019 
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Site #12 on The Aviation Trail hosts ten days of celebration in July

2019 marks the 50th Anniversary of the first steps onto the moon. Wapakoneta, the hometown of the man who took those steps, will be the place to celebrate this anniversary, with a series of events and festivities to honor the Apollo 11 Mission and all those who worked to make it a success. From July 12 through July 21, these events include a Hot Air Balloon Rally, 50th Anniversary Parade, Launch Day at Armstrong Air & space Museum, plus more.

For details CLICK HERE to download an event flyer

or visit



Armstrong Air & Space Museum

500 Apollo Drive • PO Box 1978
Wapakoneta, OH 45895

(419) 738-8811 or (800) 860-0142


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Three Area Pilots Receive Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award
Moraine, Ohio, May 5, 2019 
The FAA made the presentations at the Moraine Air Park on May 5, 2019.

The most prestigious award that FAA issues to pilots, The Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, recognizes professionalism, skill and aviation expertise as an accident-free career pilot for at least 50 years.  Less than 1% of current active pilots have received this award.
Moraine Pilots that were honored as Master Pilots by FAA are Patty Wagner, Jack Darst, and Roger Saddler.                 


(shown left to right)

    • Patty Wagner

    • Jack Darst
    • Roger Saddler

On hand to present the awards were Kirk McConnel (shown below making the presentations) and Jason Forshey of the FAA Safety Team. The pilots received a distinctive certificate and a lapel pin. The recipient's name, city and state are added to a published "Roll of Honor" located at

The FAA made the presentations at the Moraine Air Park on the occasion of EAA Chapter 48's 60th annual Funday Sunday Fly-In on May 5, 2019, the longest running EAA Chapter Fly-In at the same location in the history of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA).
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For more about EAA 48 see:

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Amanda Wright Lane to receive honorary degree from Wright State at spring commencement
Dayton, Ohio, April 24, 2019 
The Wright State University Special Collections and Archives, Paul Laurence Dunbar Library
is Site #10 on The Aviation Trail

The following announcement appears on the Wright State University website

By Bob Mihalek:

CLICK HERE for the full article, with more photos

Amanda Wright Lane, great grandniece of Wilbur and Orville Wright, will receive an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Wright State University at spring commencement.

The university’s graduation ceremony begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 4, in the Wright State Nutter Center. The spring class of 2019 includes 2,082 graduates.

Wright Lane is the fourth member of the Wright family to receive an honorary degree from Wright State. Her great aunt and uncle, Ivonette Wright Miller and Horace Wright, received honorary degrees in 1981, and her father, Wilkinson Wright, was honored in 1999.

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Amanda Wright Lane is the fourth member of the Wright family to receive an honorary degree from Wright State. (Photo by Erin Pence)

“I consider it a high, high honor,” she said. “I was so proud the day my dad received his degree, his passion for this university was so evident. And I believe I caught that passion too!”

She said the honorary degree is wonderful recognition of the volunteer work she has done at the university “just as my father and great aunt and uncle did before me.”

“I am not sure how to define what it is that I do — connect people with a love of aviation, share a legacy that really belongs to all of us and take Dayton’s message of innovation around the world,” she said. “But it certainly is terrific to know Wright State values something I love to do.”

Wright Lane is an enthusiastic supporter of Wright State, saying she has a deep appreciation for the university’s mission of reaching out to a student population that can be overlooked.

“One of the things I’ve always admired about the university is its interest in meeting students where they are — an acceptance of students who come from different backgrounds, who have different abilities academically and physically and who also may be in different stages in their lives when they begin their education,” she said. “My great granduncles certainly were different in their thinking, and early on they struggled to find acceptance of themselves and their ideas.”

As co-chair, Wright Lane played an instrumental role in the success of Rise. Shine. The Campaign for Wright State University, which raised more than $167.7 million. She is currently co-chair of Discover Your Story: The Campaign for the Wright State University Archives Center. The $6.5 million fundraising campaign will move the Special Collections and Archives to a new home.

Special Collections and Archives is home to the largest repository of Wright family materials in the world, featuring more than 4,000 original photographs, documents, publications, medals and awards. For 30 years, Wright Lane has been a frequent visitor to Special Collections and Archives, bringing guests from around the world to campus to see her family’s personal papers, diaries, photos and memorabilia.

Like so many others, Wright Lane knew from history books that the Wright brothers were the first to fly. However, after many visits to the archives she discovered the men behind the history — they were sons, businessmen, uncles and, of course, brothers.

“The scientific process they developed that led to the invention of the airplane and human flight was brilliant. They achieved what was thought to be impossible,” Wright Lane said. “But understanding who these two young Midwestern men were and the environment they came from is by far the most interesting part of their story to me.”

Once the Wright State Archives Center opens, Wright Lane said she envisions it becoming a hub of many activities for the university and a place that attracts not only researchers but also community groups, educators and children.

“It should be a dynamic meeting space for Wright State that is not only a comfortable place for students to explore or do some studying, but a place the public will enjoy as well,” she said.

Amanda Wright Lane and David McCullough are co-chairs of the Discover Your Story campaign to raise funds for a new home for Wright State’s Special Collections and Archives. The archives has the largest repository of Wright family materials in the world.

Wright Lane regularly consults with aviation experts and scholars studying the Wright brothers’ history, including Pulitzer Prize-winner David McCullough, who conducted research in Special Collections and Archives for his book “The Wright Brothers.” She also works with community leaders in both Ohio and North Carolina to raise awareness for the two national parks dedicated to telling the story of her great granduncles.

Wright Lane is a trustee of the Wright Brothers Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports the preservation of aviation history related to the lives of the Wright brothers. Since its inception in 1990, the Wright Brothers Family Foundation has donated approximately $1.5 million to aviation-related organizations in the United States and abroad.

She also serves on the boards of the National Aviation Heritage Alliance, Wright Image Group, Wright B Flyer, Inc., and the First Flight Foundation in North Carolina, as well as on the Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Council. She was appointed by President Obama to the advisory council of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

Wright Lane has received the Public Service Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Aviation Trail’s Trailblazer Award and the lvonette Wright Miller Award for volunteerism from the National Aviation Heritage Alliance. She has also been recognized by the Kittyhawk Chapter of the Air Force Association and was named a Woman of Influence by the YWCA Dayton and one of Dayton’s Top Ten Women.

She served on the Le Mans Sarthe Centennial Committee celebrating the first powered flight in Europe, achieved by Wilbur Wright in 1908. She also represented her family at Wright brothers’ events in France, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Brazil. She has served as a Wright family spokesperson many times at the Paris and Farnborough International Air Shows, beginning in 2003.

“I’m extremely proud to be able to share the Wrights’ legacy with people from around the nation and around the world, but also to share Dayton’s legacy — because I’m not sure that the Wrights could have done what they did if they hadn’t grown up in Dayton, Ohio,” she said.

Wright Lane graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Miami University and as a volunteer founded three children’s educational and social programs for her community’s schools in Cincinnati. She and her husband, Don, have two children, Brenden, a graduate of Stanford University who lives with his wife, Erin, in San Francisco, and Meredith, a doctoral graduate from The Ohio State University who lives with her spouse, Pablo, and their two children, Rehn and Grey, in Columbus.

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Statement from Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park on the Resumption of Full Operations:
January 28, 2019 - Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park
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Dayton, Ohio - With the enactment of the continuing resolution, staff at Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park have resumed regular operations. Please visit for updated information about the park.


Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park is fortunate to have many supportive partners. Superintendent Kendell Thompson said, "I appreciate all the support that was offered by The Ohio History Connection, Dayton History, and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) to look for ways to maintain operations at the Dunbar House." The Dunbar House, one of several sites located within the park boundary but owned by park partners, is owned by the Ohio History Connection, managed by Dayton History, and operated by the National Park Service.


Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park employees are happy to be back at work, serving the American people and welcoming visitors to their national parks.




About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees who care for America's 418 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities.

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For 2015/2016 News Archives CLICK HERE

For 2014 News Archives CLICK HERE

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