When most of us think of airplanes, we envision a commercial jet whisking us off on a long-awaited vacation. In reality, the plane flights we take to visit our relatives or relax on our time off are just the tip of the aviation iceberg. Aircrafts are used in so many ways that affect our day-to-day lives. Many of the foods we eat and the products we purchase are flown in on airplanes. We are protected by our brave pilots in the Air Force who fly to assure national security. Even our mail can arrive by air. Since the invention of the airplane, aviation has played an increasingly important role in the lives of all Americans.
To honor the rich legacy of flight in the United States, we as a nation celebrate Aviation History Month throughout November. Ohio has played an especially important role in this history. Dayton was the home of Orville and Wilbur Wright, the two brothers credited with inventing and flying the first airplane. As a result, our state is known as “The Birthplace of Aviation,” and, in 2003, Congress passed a resolution giving Dayton this official title.
From conquering blue skies to exploring the Milky Way, Ohio has continued its close affiliation with aviation history into the age of space travel. The Buckeye state can claim 24 astronauts as native Ohioans. This impressive list includes Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon and John Glenn, a former U.S. Senator and the first person to orbit the earth.
In addition to being the birthplace of two dozen astronauts, Ohio is also home to the NASA Glenn Research Center. Located in Cleveland, the Glenn Research Center develops innovative aeronautical technology, partnering with local businesses along the way to achieve their vision of excellency in space travel. With more than 3,400 employees, the center is an invaluable part of the area’s economy. Moreover, it brings in some of the best and brightest minds from across the country who will be the leaders in tomorrow’s technology-driven world.
Apart from spaceflight, the history of aviation is also closely tied to national security and military interests. Akron is home to a branch of Lockheed Martin, a global technology company specializing in the areas of aerospace, defense and security. Their aeronautics outlets produce military aircrafts, and the Akron campus concentrates on Mission Systems and Sensors, in part creating air applications, such as air traffic surveillance radars. Lockheed Martin has 600 employees in Akron, representing an important component of the regional economy.
From the Wright Brothers’ first designs to the continued work at the Glenn Research Center, Ohio has always been a part of breaking boundaries in aviation history. This month serves as a reminder of our past success and our future stake in the field of aeronautics.