December 16, 2017 -

Trailblazer Award and

114th Anniversary of the First Powered Flight

One evening = Two Celebrations!


114th Anniversary of Powered Flight

100th Anniversary of McCook Field

114th Anniversary of Powered Flight

Aviation Trail, Inc. celebrated the 114th Anniversary of Powered Flight with our annual First Flight Dinner honoring the Wright brothers achievements in 1903.

The 2017 Trailblazer Award was also presented, as it is annually since 1983, to an individual or organization that has furthered avaition in the greater Miami Valley. 

Aviation Trail is proud to honor the 100th anniversary of McCook Field by awarding the 2017 Trailblazer to two “descendents” of McCook Field,

the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center and

the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Photo below: Major W. Schroeder set 30,900-foot, two-man altitude record in a Packard-Le Peré LUSAC-11 Biplane at McCook Field, 24 September 1919

McCook Field was an airfield and aviation experimentation station in Dayton, Ohio, operated by the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps, and its successor the United States Army Air Service from 1917 to 1927. It was named for Alexander McDowell McCook, an American Civil War general and his brothers and cousins, who were collectively known as “The Fighting McCooks.” A huge sign painted across the front of McCook’s main hangar prominently warned arriving pilots: THIS FIELD IS SMALL - USE IT ALL.

Lt. Gen. Robert D. McMurry Jr., Commander of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (left) receives the Trailblazer Award from ATI Trustee Paul Woodruff (right).

                 2017 Co-Honorees:

• the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center

• the Air Force Research Laboratory

Maj. Gen. William T. Cooley, Commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory (left) receives the Trailblazer Award from ATI Parachute Museum Curator Randy Zuercher.

The event was held at the Hope Hotel at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Attendees enjoyed a dinner patterned after the Wright Brothers' 1903 Chrismas Dinner. Aviation Trail President Marvin Christion welcomed the group, followed by ATI Trustee Dean Alexander, who led a toast to the men and women of our U.S. Armed Forces, and ATI Trustee Emeritus Betty Darst who gave a toast to Wilbur and Orville Wright. With the 2017 Trailblazer Award going to the WPAFB units that had their beginnings at McCook Field, it was fitting that the feature presentation was entitled "The Engineering Division of McCook Field". This was presented by Jorge Gonzalez, a member of the government's Senior Executive Service, and Director, Engineering and Tehnical Management Directorate, Air Force Life Management Center, WPAFB.   

ATI President, Marvin Christian

ATI Trustee, Dean Alexander

ATI Trustee Emeritus, Betty Darst

Speaker, Mr. Jorge Gonzalez, SES

Mr. Gonzalez treated the group to a fascinating review of the history of McCook Field. This included reference not only to the many significant achievements during the ten year existence of the field, but also to the ongoing contributions and scope of operations at WPAFB that have continued the mission of the McCook Field Engineering Division.

Above, Andrew Kididis, produced an excellent slide presentation to accompany Mr. Gonzelez' speach.

McCook Field Accomplishments

McCook Field was the United States' first military aviation research facility. Many early aviation innovations were developed at McCook Field, including:

More photos from the event in the slide show below:

• Free-fall parachutes

• Protective clothing

• Electric ignition systems

• Closed cockpits

• Heated and pressurized cabins

• Oxygen systems

• An air-cooled power plant enhanced with a supercharger

• Anti-knock fuel

• The 700-hp, 18 cylinder "W" engine

• Improved navigational aids such a the earth-conductor compass and radios

• Improved weather forecasting techniques

• Advancements in aerial photography

• Stronger propellers

• The design of landing and wing lights for night flying










               Watch for an announcement of the 2018 ATI first flight event.



Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park 

16 S. Williams St., Dayton, OH 45402

Visitor Center:

For details and seasonal date schedules see

or please call (937) 225-7705 for the current park schedule.


From W. Third St., turn south on Williams St and then turn left on Fourth St. Go 1/2 block and turn left into the Visitor Center parking area.

CLICK HERE for a parking map.

See the Visitor Center page for details on hours.

Travel Note - Third St. Bridge closure:

The Third Street Bridge will be CLOSED beginning Jan. 1, 2020 until approximately Oct. 2021. Visitors can use the Fifth St. Bridge or the Salem Ave. Bridge as detours from downtown Dayton. A file with more detailed instructions for visitors traveling from the north or south via I-75, or from the east and west via US35 can be downloaded by CLICKING HERE.


Aviation Trail, Inc.

- In Partnership with the National Park Service


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