DAYTON - Aviation heritage boosters are working on a plan to take promotion of the region as the "birthplace of aviation" far beyond Ohio auto license plates.
Taking advantage of the international renown of aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright, the representatives of the Aviation Heritage Foundation and the nine historically significant regional sites it promotes are working on a "grand design" plan that could be compiled into a document by this summer. The intent is to showcase the Dayton region nationally and internationally as a place worth visiting to see the roots of aviation.
"This grand design pulls all the partners together to help each other achieve the same kind of thing: more tourism, more visitors," said Marvin Christian, president of the Aviation Trail Inc. volunteer organization and a board member of the heritage foundation. "The goal is to get people to come and stay a few days. Now, people come to the Air Force Museum for a day, they have a great time and then they move on."
The discussions include organizing bus tours and audio tours of sites, plus visions of more spectacular attractions like an amphitheater at Carillon Historical Park where hologram projections could be used to create the effect of airborne battles between warplanes, Christian said.
In the meantime, efforts are already under way to spread word to potential visitors from other countries of the Dayton area's aviation attractions, ranging from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force to the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum and Huffman Prairie, where the Wright brothers did experimental flights after their 1903 debut in Kitty Hawk, N.C.
* The Dayton-based Aviation Heritage Foundation, created to promote the nine sites Congress recognized in 2004 as the National Aviation Heritage Area, hopes to market the attractions at the Paris Air Show, set for June 24-30. The foundation spent $185,000 of its approximately $600,000 budget for the past fiscal year on marketing.
* In 2005, delegates from the French cities that made the Wright brothers famous visited the area to collect information for the centennial celebrations scheduled for 2008 in Le Mans and 2009 in Pau. A commercial contract with a French business syndicate drew Wilbur Wright to Le Mans in 1908 for public demonstrations that captured Europe's attention. In Pau, Wilbur Wright started the world's first flying school in 1909.
* The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park is preparing to nominate a collection of Wright brothers sites to the U.S. Department of the Interior for consideration as a nationally significant historic site. If the nomination makes it onto a new U.S. list of such sites, it could ultimately be proposed to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to be considered for a list of globally significant sites.
The collection of Wright brothers' sites to be nominated includes: Huffman Prairie, a Wright brothers' bicycle shop now in the national park; Hawthorn Hill, former home of Orville Wright; and the Wright Flyer III aircraft now displayed at Carillon Historical Park.
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