The Wright Brothers aren’t our only innovators. Read on to discover what current aviation and aerospace innovations are happening in the National Aviation Heritage Area.

Sustainable Aviation

The Commercial Aviation Alternative Fuels Initiative has greenlighted the University of Dayton Heyne Energy and Appropriate Technology Lab and the University of Dayton Research Institute to be the first in the nation to prescreen alternative aviation fuels for viability to enter the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) testing program. Read More

Around the world, aerospace innovators are working on new ideas. We interviewed Erik Lindbergh, grandson of the famous aviator, in 2019. Here is what he had to say about his work in electric aviation:

We’re starting to march up the exponential curve of aviation development in the number of [electric] aircraft we are seeing.

“A thriving industry is going to mean we’ve figured out how to do carbon-free aircraft transportation. Aircraft will be the most difficult industry to transform to carbon-free travel. Travelers are making decisions based on their carbon footprint and that is going to cause the industry to constrict. We’re making a big push with the Lindbergh Foundation to decarbonize aviation before my grandfather’s 100 anniversary of his New York to Paris flight.

When the Wrights went to Europe, they could actually fly and fly controllable circuits. Grandfather came along in ’27 and shifted the world’s perspective on what aviation could be used for – that being commercial purposes. We need to have that same effect over the next 7 years to make aviation sustainable.”

Interested in reading more? Here are stories from around the nation:

NASA Climate-Friendly Aviation

United’s Net-Zero Carbon Aircraft


Flying Cars

Dr. Lewis A. Jackson – famous for training the pilots we now know as the Tuskegee Airmen – had a dream at his Xenia, OH home: an airplane in every garage. The roadable airplane would be stored at home and driven to the airport. In the 1960s, he even created a foldable-wing airplane that fit into a garage and drove like a three-wheel motorcycle. While the idea never took off (excuse the pun), today innovators are moving forward with the idea of a flying car.

Ohio’s first ‘flying car’ aircraft

NASA chooses Springfield for advanced air mobility program

The Hexa all-electric aircraft, which is essentially a large multirotor drone can fly up to 1,200 feet and carry a single passenger. Bringing the flying car to Ohio for research and testing was made possible through public and private partnerships, including the U.S. Air Force’s AFWERX program.

Governor Mike DeWine said, “the lift aircraft we see today represents the emergence of incredible technology that has the potential to transform our lives just as the Wright Brothers did more than 117 years ago.”


Mars and Space Exploration

On April 19, 2021, the world watched and listened as a Wright Brothers Moment happened for the first time on another planet.

Thanks to the ingenuity of the Wright brothers more than a century ago, NASA’s Mars Ingenuity Helicopter successfully completed its attempt at the first powered flight on the Red Planet.

This is the first #WrightBrothersMoment on another planet, but certainly not the last. To honor the Wright brothers’ world-changing legacy, a small rectangle of muslin from the original Wright Flyer 1 was attached to Ingenuity, thanks to Dayton History, as a testament to how far aviation has come — and how far it will continue to go!

We think Orville and Wilbur would be proud.

Immediately following that historic event, NASA Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen announced the name for the Martian airfield on which the flight took place. “Now, 117 years after the Wright brothers succeeded in making the first flight on our planet, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has succeeded in performing this amazing feat on another world,” Zurbuchen said. “While these two iconic moments in aviation history may be separated by time and 173 million miles of space, they now will forever be linked. As an homage to the two innovative bicycle makers from Dayton, this first of many airfields on other worlds will now be known as Wright Brothers Field, in recognition of the ingenuity and innovation that continue to propel exploration.”

Read More: Mars and the Wright Brothers are Connected


Drone Delivery

“Kroger and Drone Express made a great choice in piloting this program in Centerville — a community with a robust business network focused on progress and stability near the birthplace of aviation,” said Centerville Mayor Brooks Compton. “Families here have the power to transform grocery delivery around the nation and the globe. We look forward to placing our first order.”

Kroger Drone Delivery is an innovative pilot service that will deliver groceries to customers by drones flown by certified drone pilots under FAA approval. Kroger is launching this pilot program from Centerville, in the National Aviation Heritage Area.

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