Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ohio Getaways That Soar To Great Heights

(NAPSI)-Americans are celebrating the 40th anniversary of one of the great achievements of our time: astronaut Neil Armstrong taking his legendary first steps on the moon.

The occasion has moved many people to take a trip of their own to some of the nation's top aviation hotspots. Here's a look at some popular destinations:

Birthplace Of Aviation

Those interested in exploring the historical roots of aviation have plenty of options in the hometown of Wilbur and Orville Wright. The Wright brothers, who are credited with the first successful airplane flight, grew up in Dayton, Ohio. The city is now home to the Wright B Flyer Hangar at the Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport. There, visitors can take a ride in a replica of the Wright B Flyer, which seats two and cruises up to 100 miles per hour.

If you prefer to keep your feet on solid ground, check out the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, home to the Wright Cycle Company. The park also includes Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center, containing photos and other displays chronicling the lives of the Wright brothers and another Dayton native, writer Paul Laurence Dunbar.

There's also the Huffman Prairie Flying Field and the adjacent Interpretive Center, also in Dayton. The field is the site where the Wright Brothers perfected the world's first practical airplane and opened the Wright School of Aviation. The Interpretive Center contains additional exhibits that tell the visual tale of the Wright brothers' flight trials.

Fly Me To The Moon

With Ohio being home to Neil Armstrong, John Glenn and more than 20 other astronauts, the state is well versed in space travel. Located in Armstrong's hometown of Wapakoneta, an hour north of Dayton, the Neil Armstrong Air & Space Museum celebrates the sights and sounds of man's first steps on the moon with the F5D Skylancer and the Gemini VIII spacecraft on display, as well as a moon rock and other Apollo 11 artifacts.

Inside NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, the 6,000-square-foot Visitor Center offers interactive exhibits, including a flight simulator and a launch control center where visitors can conduct microgravity experiments or count down to a simulated rocket launch.

Approximately 60 miles from Cleveland in Warren, Ohio, space enthusiasts can visit the spot where Armstrong boarded his first airplane in 1936-at the age of 6-at the former site of the Warren Airways Airport. The site now boasts a half-scale replica of Apollo 11's lunar landing module sitting on cratered concrete resembling the moon's surface.

History Buffs

The International Women's Air & Space Museum in Cleveland chronicles the lives of women ranging from Connie Wolf, a 19th century balloonist, to legendary aviator Amelia Earhart to astronaut Valentina Tereshkova of the former Soviet Union, the first woman to orbit the Earth.

The largest and oldest museum of its kind worldwide, the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton showcases military aviation history with more than 400 aircraft and aerospace vehicles on display. Key exhibits include past Air Force One aircrafts in the presidential gallery.

An hour south of Dayton is the Tri-State Warbird Museum, a 20,000-square-foot facility dedicated to preserving, restoring and operating World War II military aircraft. The museum's operational aircraft inventory includes the Grumman TBM-3 Avenger, which played a major role in the sinking of more than 60 Japanese ships after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Aviation Events

In addition to Ohio's permanent aviation attractions, the state offers aviation events such as the Vectren Dayton Air Show, Cleveland National Air Show and World War I Dawn Patrol Rendezvous.

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