Senators move to fund Dayton-based aviation area until 2022

Published: Wednesday, December 04, 2019 @ 4:04 PM

National Aviation Heritage Area park offices off West Third Street in Dayton. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF
National Aviation Heritage Area park offices off West Third Street in Dayton. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman have introduced legislation to extend and reauthorize funding for Dayton’s National Aviation Heritage Area (NAHA) to 2022.

The historical area spans eight counties across western Ohio, anchored in Dayton, the home of the Wright Brothers.

This site is a public-private partnership that supports 1,500 jobs and generates $35 million in economic impact from the more than two million visitors per year, a statement from the two senators says.

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There are a variety of cultural sites within the area, including the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Park, the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta, the Huffman Prairie Flying Field near Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and Grimes Flying Field, as well as resources related to the Wright Brothers, a joint statement from the senators noted.

“The pioneering spirit of Paul Laurence Dunbar and the Wright Brothers is reflected today in Dayton’s National Aviation Heritage Area,” Brown, a Democrat, said in the statement. “It’s a privilege to represent a state with such important historical significance, and I’m proud to stand with Sen. Portman in our effort to ensure that federal investment in the National Aviation Heritage Area’s will continue.”

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“The National Aviation Heritage Area in Dayton is home to our nation’s aviation history and I am proud to introduce this legislation to help ensure it is preserved and enjoyed by future generations,” Portman, a Republican, also said in the joint statement. “It tells the story of the Wright Brothers’ development of the first airplane, which has led to a strong aviation industry in the region today.”

In September, the Dayton building that once housed the Wright Company Factory was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

The placement could assist groups linked to NAHA or other partners compete for grant funding to redevelop the site, said Kendell Thompson, superintendent of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.