If it flies, you’ll find it in Dayton. The city is proud of its aviation legacy (the Wright brothers built and flew their first planes while living in Dayton). Whether you want to fly in a replica of the world’s first mass-produced plane (the Wright “B” Flyer) or just learn how the brothers came up with their innovative designs, the city’s Aviation Trail obliges. The trail can be a little overwhelming for first-time visitors, which is why the Wright Cycle Company Complex—which includes the Dayton Aviation Trail Visitor Center, housed in the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center—should be your first stop.
This site, part of of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, features helpful park rangers, interactive displays, like a huge propeller that moves at the push of a button, and historical re-creations, including the room the brothers used during their brief stint as newspaper owners, complete with an antique printing press. The compact museum offers a window into the Wright brothers’ childhood and attempts to explain how these two passionate men successfully built and flew the world’s first airplanes without the benefit of a college education. A room on the second floor features a quirky museum devoted to parachute regalia and history. Next door is the Wright Cycle Company, where the brothers ran one of their many bicycle shops. View these displays for their historical perspective, then head out to see the many original and replica Wright brothers planes—and other aviation exhibits—across the city.