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Celebrating Wright Brothers Day with the History of the Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport

The Birthplace of Aviation

As we celebrate the Wright Brothers today and their innovation that changed history forever, we wanted to feature the Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport. When the Brothers engineered the first powered flight on this day, December 17, 1903, they established an aviation landmark that is still thriving today in Dayton. While anyone from Dayton is likely familiar with Orville and Wilbur Wright and their significance to not only Dayton but the world, some might not know about the history of the airport named after them.

Building the Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport

Originally named the “Montgomery County Airport,” the Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport was constructed in the early 1950s by Charles F. Kettering—an industrialist and another historic innovator working out of Dayton. The airport was constructed to support one of the nation’s first corporate flight departments putting Dayton once again at the forefront of national aviation. The airport’s primary role was to serve as a private general aviation airport for southern Montgomery County, Ohio.

aerial view of airport land

The City of Dayton leased Montgomery County Airport from the Kettering Foundation in 1970 with the objective of utilizing it as a general aviation reliever airport to off-load the ever-increasing amount of general aviation traffic from the Dayton International Airport. At that time, the airport facilities consisted of two runways, three 12-unit T-hangars, one large conventional hangar and an administration building. The City of Dayton leased the Airport from the Kettering Foundation until 1974, when the Airport was purchased by the City with the assistance of federal grants for $1,490,000. After the City’s acquisition of the Airport, it was renamed “Dayton General Airport South.” In 1977, the administration building was replaced by a new facility at a cost of $1,060,000.

In February 1990, an Erie, Pennsylvania business established Northcoast Executive Airlines. The airline initiated daily scheduled air carrier service from Dayton General Airport South to Detroit and Flint, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; and Cleveland, Ohio. Due to a national and regional economic recession, which affected business-related air travel from Dayton to the industrial region of the Great Lakes, Northcoast Airlines ceased operations in January 1991.

To honor Wilbur and Orville Wright while celebrating Dayton’s rich aviation history, Dayton General Airport South was renamed “Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport” on December 6, 1995. Today, the Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport facilities include a 4,500-foot runway equipped with a partial precision approach consisting of a localizer, approach lighting system, runway lighting, and a visual approach lighting system.

The Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport Today

The Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport is still active today and operates 24 hours per day, 7 days a week and primarily serves corporate and personal aircraft users. The Airport has many T-hangars available for lease, tie-down space, and land available for personal or corporate hangar development. For those requiring aircraft maintenance and other services, the airport has an on-site fixed based operator (FBO) for use.

The airport also offers more than just airplanes and flight. It hosts events for the community of Dayton and visitors such as the crowd-favorite Runway Fest. Runway Fest is an annual event that features live music, aircraft displays, airplane rides, fireworks, and more. While the 2020 event was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the hope is to continue the event in 2021.

Wright Brothers flying Wright Flyer at Kittyhawk

The Airport is also home to Wright “B” Flyer, Inc., a non-profit organization that maintains a hangar museum honoring the accomplishments of the Wright Brothers and operates growing fleet of “lookalike” reproductions, including a historically accurate and beautifully crafted replica of the Wright Brothers’ Model B airplane, which visitors can arrange to fly in!

As it was for the Wright Brothers over a century ago, Dayton is still focused on aviation and the excitement that comes with flying. Whether you’re looking to fly for business, vacation, or you want to learn a little more about the history of aviation, you’ll find all things flight in Dayton.

Visit FlyDayton.com to learn more.


*History portions accessed from the Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport page.