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July 27, 2017

Huffman Prairie - America’s First Airport

The Wright brothers made their first powered flight in 1903 at Kitty Hawk North Carolina, allowing North Carolina to declare themselves “First in Flight”.  On the Outer Banks there was consistent wind and the slope of Kill Devil hill to allow the brothers to launch basically a powered glider.  My blog on our visit there can be found HERE.

The Wright brothers returned to Dayton to continue their experiments in flight.  They knew the ability to turn and take off would be required for a successful aircraft.  It was at Huffman Prairie where through trial-and-error and careful experiments that controlled power flight was accomplished.

In 1910 the Wright School of Flying was established on Huffman Prairie creating the nations first airport and flight school.
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After the 1913 flood that inundated Dayton a series of dams was built to prevent it from ever happening again.  The Huffman Dam is one of those built.  Since Huffman Prairie can be flooded when the dam retains water it has never been developed.  Although lacking horses and cows it looks much as it did when the Wright brothers were here.
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The prairie is on the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (enter via gate 16-A).  And enjoy a long drive through a tree tunnel.
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The parking area is at the old Simmons Trolley stop.  The trolley allowed for an easy 8 mile commute.
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Entrance to the flying field is over a short bridge crossing a seasonal creek/swamp.
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The sign warns of chiggers, groundhogs and ticks – I’ll add mosquitoes!
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Despite the warnings we choose to walk the field to a replica of the 1905 hanger that housed the worlds first viable aircraft.
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Their father, Reverend Milton Wright, only flew once.  That was with Orville here at Huffman Prairie.
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The prairie has always had a variety of wild flowers.  The 9th grade science class was brought here to study the botany of the area.  The flowers peak in late June thru mid July.  It’s a great time to visit.
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Aircraft have come a long way since 1905.  I did mention the prairie is on the Wright-Pat AFB.
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Today's interesting fact - Dayton is home to the world's first soapbox derby.

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