Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park

A crazy collection of museums and historical places from around the Dayton area, this park tells the rest of the story of flight. What caused the Wright brothers to create the first airplane in history? Why did they succeed when so many others failed? How did those failures help them? This is the place to learn.

Actually a collection of 4 different sites:

The Wright Cycle Company Complex:

16 S Williams St, Dayton, OH 45402

It is not the original cycle shop where the brothers built the plane. (This is the fourth location. It is the fifth location that moved to the Ford Museum in Dearborn Michigan by Henry Ford and Orville Wright ) This shop is where the brothers worked on and sold many of the bicycles that funded their early experiments.

Also included in this section is a museum built in the building the brother used to print their newspapers. This museum tells the story of the area at the time and the early work of the brothers. Mostly the museum focuses on the brothers print operations.  It leaves the story of flight to the other locations.

The Wright Brothers Aviation Center at Dayton History at Carillon Park:

1000 Carillon Blvd, Dayton, OH 45409

This center is located in the middle of Carillion Historical Park and tells the history of flight around the time of the Wright Flyer III. The Museum focuses on this period because this is where the original Wright Flyer III is located.  This time period was a time when the brother had both a bike shop and planes to worry about. With both replicas of the shop and a short film, with many of the brothers personal artifacts highlighted, the center does a good job of explaining the importance of the plane before the visitor sees it.

The Wright Flyer III was the first practical airplane built. It was with this plane the brothers developed many of the flying techniques still used today. Most of the flights of the Wright Flyer III took place at….

Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretive Center

2380 Memorial Road, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH 45433

This is the location of the Wright Brothers original flying field. After leaving the dunes of Kitty Hawk, and creating a catapult to launch the plane without the wind the dunes provided, the brothers settled on this small cow pasture near their house. The original field and replicas of the hangar and catapult are open to visitors. The field, however, is hard to get too and is overgrown in the summer. Even with its problems it is worth the visit to see where flight went from an idea to a reality.

On top of a nearby hill is the interpretive center that will explain the history of the field and local military base. The museum is dedicated to the time when the brothers worked out the simple problems and the complex ideas that turned flight from a possibility to a workhorse of modern society. The museum also contains a flight simulator that allows visitors to try the Wright Flyer III on their own.

Paul Laurence Dunbar House Historic Site

219 North Paul Laurence Dunbar Street, Dayton, OH 45401

This is the last residence of the famous poet. The reason a poet’s house is included in the Aviation national park is that Paul Laurence Dunbar was a good friend of The Wright Brothers and they published many of his early works. Dunbar became famous as one of the first Black poets to reach national acclaim.

The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park might be spread out over the city, but still manages to bring together the story of flight. All this while telling the story of two brothjers from a mid sized town in Ohio.

Quick Tip: Also Visit the The National Museum of the United States Air Force to learn more about early flight.


  1. Actually , it is one of the original bicycle shops. The Wrights operated from five different rented locations in Dayton, and the NPS has the fourth of those. Henry Ford purchased the fifth and “reconstructed” it in Michigan, though that building has no structural integrity and is essentially destroyed.

  2. Great article with one small exception. The bicycle shop at the Wright Cycle Complex is original. It is the fourth of five seperate locations for the Wright bicycle business. Their last location, (number 5) is the one that was moved to Michigan by Henry Ford. The one included in the park is the only one of the shops that remains intact on its original foundation.

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