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Multi-state ceremony to celebrate first human flight

  • Published
  • By Caroline Clauson
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio — Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will honor the local foundation of innovation and grit its mission is built upon Dec. 17 at 10 a.m., commemorating the Wright brothers’ accomplishments 118 years ago with the annual First Flight ceremony.

“It is important to celebrate this anniversary every year because the invention of flight is arguably one of the most influential achievements of the 20th century,” said Steve Byington, cultural resources manager for the 88th Civil Engineer Group. “This event allows WPAFB to recognize the exact moment humans first achieved powered, sustained and controlled airplane flight while also honoring the innovative genius of the two local brothers who changed the world forever.”

The 88th Air Base Wing, Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park and National Aviation Heritage Area will host the event in conjunction with Outer Banks Forever, the First Flight Society and Wright Brothers National Memorial near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

During the ceremony, Kitty Hawk and Dayton officials will virtually trade soil to acknowledge the joint geographic effort and partnership that put humans in the sky in 1903. 

“Due to more favorable wind conditions, the achievement that we celebrate with this ceremony actually took place in Kitty Hawk,” Byington said. “However, it was right here in Dayton where the Wright brothers developed the principles, conducted the research, drew up the plans and actually constructed the world’s first practical airplane.”

Brig. Gen. Luke Cropsey, Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate head and director of International Affairs at Air Force Materiel Command, will speak at the event.

Although the ceremony is not open to the public due to COVID-19 restrictions, Dayton locals can look up around 10:35 a.m. for a C-130 Hercules flying overhead.

“The principles of aviation that the Wright brothers developed over a hundred years ago in Dayton still form the foundations used by today’s most modern and technologically sophisticated aircraft,” Byington said.

Members of the Wright family will symbolize an even deeper connection to the historical event with a wreath laying. 

Ultimately, the ceremony reminds Wright-Patterson AFB to look back in time on its own community to fully appreciate the achievements that allow the Air Force to fly, fight and win, organizers said. 

“In an age when technological advancement seems to develop at a blistering pace, it is important to pause to appreciate those rare individual milestones that have had such a transformative effect on the human experience,” Byington said.

“The advent of powered flight didn’t just increase our power of movement in this world; it forever changed how we view this world. It set in motion a revolution of shrinking distances and expanding aviation potential, which continues to this day. Its significance to human history must be forever remembered and celebrated.”

The National Aviation Heritage Area will livestream the event on Facebook at