Best place to watch planes take off from Wright Patterson Air Force Base

Sometimes the coolest things are right in front of us- and we just miss them.

Yesterday I headed out to the Museum of the USAF … Air Force Museum (some names just won’t ever change)- at 4:30 not realizing it closed at 5. With 2 kids in tow- I had to punt, so we drove up Springfield Street, onto 444a and then Right on Kaufmann, and the first right is a gate to the AF base- and to the right of that- the road to the:

Wright Memorial

2380 Memorial Road, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Adjacent to the Interpretive Center, the Wright Memorial on Wright Brothers Hill is a 27-acre designed landscape honoring Dayton’s native sons. The monument, a 17-foot pink granite obelisk, was dedicated on August 19, 1940, Orville’s 69th birthday.

Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park – Visit the Sites (U.S. National Park Service).

I’ve driven by it a million times- and I think I drove up the hill one time- but, that was long before the parks service took over and built a small museum. It was open till 6pm- so we had time to look around and see a lot of history of what was invented here in Dayton. The parachute, the ejection seat- and of course- the Wright’s and their wind tunnels and experimentation.

The monument has been up since 1940, but the view- over the base- and the Huffman flying field where they used to practice is phenomenal. Right up there with the view of Downtown from the top of Woodland Cemetery – which I visit almost daily (and where the Wright brothers are buried).

While you can get closer to the flight line by hanging out on Chambersberg road by the Skyborn Drive in- you can see the whole flightline and the runways from an elevation at the Memorial. Take some binoculars or a telescope- and a lawn chair and get away from it all, right here in Dayton.

We then went on a nature drive- over to the flying field- where we saw three deer, and a ground hog- as well as the field, a mock up of the catapult and the hanger that were used by the Wrights. It’s a winding drive back off 444a- that doesn’t seem to get many visitors.

While we can’t seem to get past the Wright Brothers as Dayton’s claim to fame, neither do we seem to really appreciate what kind of effort, through trial and error, they went through to get their idea to take flight. It often seems we expect instant results- when in fact, anything worth doing requires a whole lot of time, effort and mistakes along the way.

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