Backers want Ohio Aviation Hall of Fame at future monument site

Published: Monday, June 19, 2017 @ 7:00 AM

The Dayton Air Fair, started in the mid 70s, provided thrills for aircraft enthusiasts.

Ohio may be the birthplace of aviation, but it doesn’t have what California, Kansas, North Carolina and New Jersey all have: a state-oriented aviation hall of fame.

A number of aviation enthusiasts in the area want to change that, but money remains a big hurdle.

Backers envision an Ohio Aviation Hall of Fame as part of a proposed $21 million Triumph of Flight monument on eight acres at the southwest corner of Interstate 75 and I-70.

State Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek, has introduced a bill establishing a nine-member board to oversee the Hall of Fame and a 2022 deadline for construction. 

It’s about “tagging our state as one of if not the number one state in aerospace in the country,” said Perales, an Air Force veteran.

RELATED: Apollo 13 mission director, three others to enter National Aviation Hall of Fame

In all, 34 states have their own state-specific aviation halls of fame honoring natives who have made significant contributions to the field, a University of Dayton volunteer student-led study found. Ohio is not one of them.

The National Aviation Hall of Fame, which is tucked inside the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, honors legendary Ohio aviation and space pioneers, such as Dayton airplane inventors Orville and Wilbur Wright, and astronauts John Glenn and Neil Armstrong. But backers say there are plenty of noteworthy contributors who otherwise wouldn’t get their due without a state hall.

“There are a lot of people here in Ohio, a lot of Ohioans, who deserve recognition for their accomplishments who will just never rise to the level of the National Aviation Hall of Fame but are still worthy of some recognition,” said Timothy Gaffney, a local author who wrote the book, “The Dayton Flight Factory: The Wright Brothers & the Birth of Aviation.”

An artist rendering of the proposed Triumph of Flight monument that the Wright Image Group would like to building at the southwest quadrant of interstates 70 and 75 in Butler Township. Project organizers would like to build an Ohio Aviation Hall of Fame at the base of the monument. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY WRIGHT IMAGE GROUP(Staff Writer)

Paying for the monument

Backers have attempted to raise money for more than a decade for the Triumph of Flight. They envision a 270-foot monument with a massive stainless steel replica of the 1905 Wright Flyer III, the world’s first practical airplane, at the top of the arching tower.

The Hall of Fame would be inside a $2.6 million, 10,000-square-foot learning center at the base of the monument, said Curt Nelson, executive director of the Wright Image Group campaign and a retired Air Force pilot.

So far, the group has gathered about $2.1 million or 10 percent of the goal. Nelson said the group hopes to land a major donor in the months ahead, someone who would give half the money in return for having their name as part of the monument’s identity. The site itself would be a combination of donated and purchased land, he said.

“We’d like to be in a position later this summer with a significant amount of construction pledges in hand,” he said. “We’re active on that front. We’re talking to lots of folks. We’re very actively looking for that donor and maybe it happens this summer.”

RELATED: Group seeks to build Wright Flyer monument

Public money unlikely

Finding funding for the Triumph of Flight concept is the biggest challenge of the project, said National Aviation Heritage Alliance Executive Director Tony Sculimbrene.

He researched the history of two world-renowned places — the St. Louis Arch in Missouri and the Sydney Opera House in Australia — and discovered both relied on “substantial” government support to get off the ground, he said.

“I think the Triumph of Flight will require significant government support and that’s tough to do in today’s environment,” Sculimbrene said.

With state lawmakers working to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the state budget in an effort to eliminate a projected shortfall, Perales does not anticipate having state money available.

Likewise, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, who once spoke on the House floor to support the monument, indicated that federal funding would not be available.

“Funding for projects like the Triumph of Flight monument would be considered an earmark, which are currently prohibited under House rules,” the congressman said in an emailed statement Friday.

RELATED: Air Force Museum sees boost in attendance since new hangar opened

‘Inherently difficult’

Raising money for the Triumph of Flight monument has evolved into a years-long quest.

“Fundraising is difficult inherently and fundraising for things like monuments is a factor of 10 more difficult,” Nelson said.

The project received a $250,000 earmark in last year’s state capital budget, he said.

Gaffney acknowledged the fundraising challenge, but said, “I definitely think it would be a good thing for the Dayton region and the state of Ohio and why not have something on the scale of the St. Louis Arch and the Statue of Liberty because this is the birthplace of aviation?

“The St. Louis Arch marks the gateway to the west, but the Triumph of Flight marks the gateway to the universe.”

The monument would attract more tourists to the National Aviation Heritage Area and give boost to local tourism, organizers say.

TourismOhio Director Mary Cusick said she had not heard of the hall of fame proposal but noted the popularity of similar tourist sites in Ohio.

“I can tell you the National Football Hall of Fame (in Canton) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (in Cleveland), those seem to get a lot of traction and they’re good for tourism in Ohio,” she said.

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Rezoning means what’s left of Skyborn Drive-In, Skateland will disappear

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 10:10 PM

Rezoning means what's left of Skyborn Drive-In, Skateland will disappear

The Bath Twp. board of trustees voted unanimously Thursday night in favor of a zoning change that means what’s left of the iconic Skyborn Drive-In and Skateland will be razed. 

The properties are on Haddix Road in the township, north of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and the land will become the home to a construction company. 

"It's going to be sad to see them go," Dan Kirkpatrick, Fairborn Area Historical Society vice president, told WHIO-TV's James Buechele. 

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"It's been a place for families to go to watch a movie," he said. "It's been a place for kids to go skating." 

This is what's left of the Skyborn Drive-In in Bath Twp., Greene County. (Courtesy/James Buechele)

Kirkpatrick said the historical society is working with the construction company, Barrett Paving, to use the property as a quarry. Both sides also will be exploring the area for any historical artifacts to save. 

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Officials with the paving company said they are willing to possibly save the drive-in sign. 

Kirkpatrick said he's not sure where the sign would go. 

"Who knows? We might be able to find some future use for it," he said.

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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Magnitude 3.6 earthquake that hits Canada is felt in metro Detroit

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 9:16 PM

(Courtesy/earthquake.USGS.gov)
(Courtesy/earthquake.USGS.gov)

A magnitude 3.6 earthquake that occurred in Amherstburg, Canada, across the Detroit River from Grosse Ile, Michigan, on Thursday night was felt in metro Detroit.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake hit about 8 p.m. 

The depth of the quake was about 5 km deep and felt in southern Detroit, which is about 20 north of the epicenter. 

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There have been no reports of damage or injury. 

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"They happen from time to time, right in that magnitude" in southeast Michigan, David Gurney, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in White Lake, told the Detroit Free Press. "They are rare, but not unheard of."

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Trotwood board votes to not renew teacher’s contract after unsanctioned field trip

Published: Tuesday, April 17, 2018 @ 5:26 PM
Updated: Wednesday, April 18, 2018 @ 7:25 PM

VIDEO: Khaliah Forte speaks out at meeting, contract not renewed

UPDATED @ 8:40 p.m. (April 19)

Trotwood-Madison school board members voted to not renew the contract of a high school teacher who took 50 students on an unsanctioned field trip last month to a college campus.

More than 100 people showed up in support of Khaliah Forte, who addressed the board to defend her actions and to dispute that administrators said she wasn’t a fit in the building.

“I live in Trotwood. I go to church in Trotwood. I’m a part of this community, my kids attend Trotwood City Schools. we are this community. We participate in all we can in this district. I go to football games, basketball games, all sporting competitions’ signing days, inductions, every school board meeting and city council meeting,” Forte said. “When I walk into the building at 7:30 in the morning and I lay eyes on those kids, they all become my kids.”

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Board President Denise Moore said she couldn’t say anything specific about the nonrenewal because it was a personnel matter.

“It’s not about people, it’s not about positions, it’s not about personalities and it’s not about politics —  it’s about policy,” she said.

Trotwood teacher finds job in jeopardy after unapproved field trip

Moore said she wasn’t surprised so many parents, students and community members turned out in support of Forte.

“I think people came out because they care, people came out because they are engaged in the Trotwood-Madison City School District.”

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Parent Kalisha Smith, who said she helped to organize the trip, said there were no complaints from hotels or bus company used by the students. She said Forte provided an educational opportunity that has changed her youngest daughter for the better.

“No teacher deserves this trying to make something better for the students on her own personal time,” she said.

UPDATED @2:25 p.m. (April 19)

Trotwood-Madison school board officials on Thursday afternoon canceled their 5:30 p.m. special meeting, which had been scheduled “to investigate complaints against a public official.” 

The district’s regular school board meeting, scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., will still take place.

EARLIER

Trotwood High School teacher Khalilah Forte is facing a possible termination for taking 50 students on a college visit in March that was not approved by the school.

The Trotwood City Schools board has called a special meeting to begin at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the district administrative offices, 3594 N. Snyder Road. The board will immediately go into executive session. 

According to documents from last week’s meeting, the board plans a vote Thursday on whether to non-renew Forte’s teaching contract, effective May 24, the day after students’ last day of school. 

This news organization has requested Forte’s personnel file, to examine any disciplinary documents related to the case.

Community leaders and parents say Forte was trying to help students who might not have a chance to experience a college visit. They also said parent and local organizations raised the money for the trip. 

Board member Norman Scearce said the trip was not taken on school time and the board will be voting Thursday on whether to terminate Forte. 

RELATED: See more trending stories on WHIO.com

The Rev. James Washington, pastor of Phillips Temple Church, said he knows Forte personally and that “She loves children, she loves the instruction of children and she loves what she does.” 

Washington also said Forte was just trying to help the children. 

According to the letter, which also was posted to social media, a Trotwood principal warned Forte she could lose her job if she took students on the unsanctioned trip.

Neither school district officials nor Principal David White would comment on the situation. Forte also said she was unable to comment. 

Got a tip? Call our monitored 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send it to newsdesk@cmgohio.com

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Shooting at vet clinic near Yellow Springs investigated as self-inflicted fatality

Published: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 2:45 PM
Updated: Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 8:16 PM

Greene County sheriff removes body from vet clinic near Yellow Springs

UPDATE @ 8:01 p.m.: The shooting at the Hosket Veterinary Services on Thursday is being investigated as a self-inflicted fatality, Greene County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Mike Brown said.

Deputies dispatched about 11:20 a.m. to the business, 4450 U.S. 68 North, found an individual who had suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Chief Deputy Mike Brown said. He declined to release any more information, saying the case remains under investigation. 

STAY CONNECTED: Greene County News on Facebook

A Greene County coroner’s investigator has removed the body.

Community members and friends who went to the business said they are stunned that something like this happened here.

“I mean, this is so devastating. It’s hard to even talk about it,” said Pamela Davis. 

People who had come to the business for appointments found deputies engaged in their investigation of the incident.

“My sympathy is to the family. All we can do is lean on each other and be supportive of them,” Kathy McConehea, of Yellow Springs.

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