Dayton Welcomed The Aviation World

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With all three North American military performance teams flying each day (and perfect 79-degree pure blue skies Saturday) it was a celebration befitting the occasion it marked. This weekend, people jammed the Vectren Dayton Air Show in the official (Kitty Hawk will always argue this) Birthplace of Aviation, to mark 100 years of powered, sustained flight. The event is the keystone gala to a long list of centennial events across the country. The Canadian Forces Snowbirds, the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds each brought their own version of precision flight to hundreds of thousands. Rich's Incredible Pyro assaulted the record books with a 3,000-foot-long wall of fire and air-to-ground attack simulations, while aerial demonstrations included everything from the 1910 Bleriot XI" to the B-2 Stealth Bomber. Announcers at the show Saturday proclaimed by noon that the record crowd had gobbled up all the programs for the week and officials were scrambling to open new parking areas as visitors spent three hours inching in gridlock the last three miles to reach the show site. Hot, sunny weather had air show watchers seeking shade under airplane wings and drinking water from military tank trailers as they watched military, commercial and aerobatic aircraft go through their paces. And if they were lucky, they might have run into an aviation icon or two, who were in Dayton for a reunion of a very exclusive club. A total of 22 aviators enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame attended a gala reunion of the most influential people in aviation in its first 100 years. Astronauts, test pilots and industry builders paid homage to the brothers who started it all in their Dayton bicycle shop. "The Wright Brothers gave me the best vocation a man ever had," said Scott Crossfield, who was the first to fly twice the speed of sound in 1953, a scant 50 years after the Wrights managed their wobbling first flights. Boeing also used the Dayton event to ensure that the cutting-edge technology of just a few years ago will be remembered long into the future. It donated its technology demonstrator aircraft the Bird of Prey and a 28-percent scale model of the X-36 tailless agility flight demonstrator to the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton. For more details and images, visit Dayton Daily News' online coverage.