DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Orville and Wilbur Wright’s place in history was cemented during a 12 second flight on December 17, 1903.
Monday, a ceremony in the brothers’ home town celebrated the 115th anniversary of powered flight.
“From seeing birds in the air, to the legends of Icarus, to the work that was done by Leonardo da Vinci: those were the ideas that were birthed inside the minds and hearts of this amazing family,” said Colonel Thomas P. Sherman, the commander of the 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.
Service members from nearby Wright-Patt, local government and preservation leaders joined in the presidential proclamation, C-17 flyover and wreath laying ceremony at the Wright Brothers Memorial.
The Wrights’ descendants were also in attendance.
“I think Uncle Orville and Uncle Wilbur would be extremely interested in what’s forward, what’s happening in the future,” said their great-grand niece Amanda Wright Lane.
Wright Lane said recent achievements in space exploration and aviation remind her of the significance of her great-grand uncles’ first flight.
Anthony Sculimbrene, the former executive director of the National Aviation Heritage Area, explained the Wright Flyer was the precursor to modern aircraft, the U.S. Air Force and worldwide aviation.
“Without a doubt, what the Wright Brothers achieved on 17 December 1903 was truly monumental and one of mankind’s most historic events,” Sculimbrene said.
While the former executive director praised the efforts to create memorials in honor of the Wright Brothers, he also called for more restoration, pointing specifically to the Wright Brothers Cycle Shop and airplane factory.
Wright Lane agreed, adding her uncles would hope their hometown continued to focus on progress.
“It means a lot to look back, but I know they were men that looked forward,” she said. “So I think about what’s our progress been. Every anniversary, I think about how far we’ve come.”
Since the late 1970s, the 88th Air Base Wing has maintained the Wright Brothers Memorial Park and Memorial. A wreath laying ceremony to mark the first flight anniversary became an annual tradition during a 75th anniversary celebration in 1978.