New ‘Festival of Flight’ to celebrate aviation


FAIRBORN — Festival of Flight, a new community festival celebrating flight and highlighting the importance of the Miami Valley’s aviation heritage, will hold its inaugural event this fall.

The free all-day festival will take place on the grounds behind the Wright State University Nutter Center on Saturday, Oct. 5.

The festival is sponsored by the City of Fairborn, Wright State University, and the Wright State Alumni Association, in partnership with the Dayton Regional STEM School, the Miami Valley Restaurant Association, the National Aviation Heritage Alliance, the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and participation by the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

The festival will appeal to families from around the Miami Valley and flight enthusiasts across the country. The event is expected to attract an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 people.

“We are the birthplace of aviation; Wright State is named in honor of the Wright brothers; Huffman Prairie is in the heart of Fairborn,” said Greg Scharer, executive director of alumni relations at Wright State. “The Festival of Flight is a celebration of something our community takes pride in and will help make even more members of the public aware of the importance of aviation to our community.”

The festival will also introduce attendees to many of the hidden gems of aviation-related resources in the Miami Valley.

“It’s no secret that the Dayton community takes great pride in our rich aviation legacy. What this festival will provide is the ability to engage young and old alike in the heritage of aviation as well as STEM aspects of flight,” said Amy Spowart, executive director of the National Aviation Hall of Fame. “Through exhibits, interactives, sport and the arts, our festival will have something for every member of the family.”

The festival will feature aviation-related educational experiences; flight-themed food and drinks; and entertainment, including live bands, a dedicated area with fun activities for children and a haunted trail.

Festival of Flight also includes a celebration of Wright Brothers Day, which marks the anniversary of Wilbur Wright’s 39-minute flight on Huffman Prairie on Oct. 5, 1905. The flight demonstrated that the Wright brothers had advanced their design to the point of a practical airplane.

“When Uncles Orv and Will first ‘imagined’ the role their flying machines would play in the world, they predicted their aeroplanes would be used for sport and pleasure … and that ‘flight’ would link neighbors and strangers,” said Amanda Wright Lane, great grandniece of Wilbur and Orville Wright. “Over 100 years later, the organizers of Wright State’s inaugural Festival of Flight are designing an event that will do just that — join all members of our community through sport and entertainment, while celebrating a world-transforming technology, born only a few miles away.”

Much of the festival will focus on providing educational experiences for attendees, especially children.

”What will set the Festival of Flight apart is the education component we plan to include in so many activities,” Scharer said. “The festival will focus on educating the community on all the resources we have in the area.”

The festival will feature flight simulators from the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, a robotics and drone competition, and a model of the Wright B Flyer that attendees can view up close. A World War II bomber and Wright Flyer will also fly over the festival grounds. Demonstrations will help educate attendees about the history and future of aviation.

Sports fans will have plenty to cheer about too. The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team will play exhibition games against an all-star team of local military personnel and first responders and the Dayton Legends Softball Club all-stars. Also planned is an old-time vintage baseball game between the Cincinnati 1869 Red Stockings and Dayton’s Eastwood Iron Horses. Wright State volleyball, men’s soccer and club football teams will also play during the festival.

Wright State students will participate in a parade of golf carts they will decorate with flight themes.

The Wright Brothers Day area will be coordinated by Wright State’s student chapter of the American Marketing Association.

“Wright Brothers Day celebrates the innovative spirit of our university’s namesakes, showcasing innovations from Wright State and the local community,” said Nickolas Fleming, a senior marketing major and chapter president. Fleming also serves on the Festival of Flight committee and will serve as communication coordinator.

Learn more about the Festival of Flight at FestivalOfFlight.org. More details about the festival, including a schedule of performances, games and activities, will be added to the website this fall.

In subsequent years, the Festival of Flight will take place on the first weekend in October.