Apollo 11 was the first of seven NASA missions launched to actually place men on the Moon. Five succeeding Apollo flights were successful in reaching the lunar surface. Apollo 13, which was commanded by Cleveland native Jim Lovell, made history by overcoming a life-threatening malfunction which prevented a lunar landing. Through the heroic efforts of Lovell and his crew, supported by NASA, the spacecraft and all aboard were safely returned to Earth.
Ohio and American space flight are inseparable. In 1962, the first American to orbit the earth was John Glenn of New Concord, Ohio. Glenn piloted his Friendship 7 spacecraft a total of three times around the earth. He opened the door to prolonged U.S. spaceflight and became the first of more than 20 astronauts, to date, who hail from Ohio.
Powered flight was created in the Dayton bicycle shop of Orville and Wilbur Wright. Ohio is also the home to Hap Arnold, the father of the U.S. Air Force, who was taught to fly by the Wright Brothers. The legacy of this pioneering spirit lives on today with Ohio’s continued commitment to aviation and aerospace technology.
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, here in southwest Ohio, is the largest Air Force base in the nation and a major economic force in the region. As the largest single site jobs-provider in the state, Wright-Patterson directly employs some 25,000 personnel. A similar number of people work in the private sector surrounding the air force base in support of Wright-Patterson’s missions. The regional economic impact from this activity approaches $5 billion annually.
Wright-Patterson is currently undergoing a significant expansion due to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process which has paved the way for a number of new missions to enhance work already performed on base. Southwest Ohio will benefit from $413 million in additional spending and 1,200 new jobs at Wright-Patterson by 2011.
This past week southwest Ohio also hosted the inaugural United States Air, Trade and Technology Expo 2009 (USATT) which attracted domestic and foreign leaders in military, government, academia and industry to discuss aerospace technology. The trade and technology event preceded the annual Dayton Air Show held July 18th and 19th. I secured start-up funding for the new USATT which will be held every other year to showcase new aviation industry trends and focus attention on southwest Ohio as a hub of the aerospace industry.
As the “Birthplace of Aviation,” it was fitting that Dayton also played host to the Apollo program astronauts, including Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, this past weekend. On Friday night, The National Aviation Hall of Fame, located at the U.S. Air Force Museum, honored the Apollo 11 crew and all the Apollo program astronauts for their contributions to the advancement of flight. And on Saturday night, the NAHF enshrined four new members, including astronaut Eileen Collins, America’s first female Space Shuttle commander, as well as astronaut Ed White, who lost his life in the Apollo 1 fire.
As the nation and the world commemorate the magnificent achievement of mankind’s first steps on the face of the Moon, Ohio will continue to be recognized as a state of pioneers and a leader in the future of aviation and aerospace technology.