TURNER on NAHF Propeller

March 21, 2018

Congressman Mike Turner (OH-10) released the following statement after Dayton Daily News reported the National Aviation Hall of Fame’s (NAHF) intent to send its chief artifact, a wooden propeller signed by the Wright brothers, to a Colorado museum:

“The National Aviation Hall of Fame is struggling financially. Sending its chief artifact to another museum is certain to only worsen that problem. I became aware last year of the Hall’s consideration of selling its artifacts and sent a cease and desist letter to them. As I said then, ‘no museum or enshrinement hall can maintain credibility if the collection of artifacts in its possession is seen as a possible revenue source.’ The lawyer for NAHF called the signed Wright propeller ‘the only significant artifact owned by the National Aviation Hall of Fame,’ when he assured me in February of last year that the Hall did not intend to sell its artifacts. Sending the Hall’s ‘only significant artifact’ from Ohio to be appraised is beyond concerning. The Blue Ribbon Panel I’ve established is working on its conclusions and I look forward to NAHF leadership coming to the table to talk about reasonable solutions about how it plans to work with our community to get back in good standing. Certainly sending its ‘only significant artifact’ out of our community is not going to help.”

On January 25th, 2017, Congressman Turner sent a letter to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the NAHF, Bill Harris, stating he would investigate the Congressionally Chartered organization after receiving troubling information concerning its finances.

On January 30th, 2017, Congressman Turner received support from two National Aviation Hall of Fame Trustees Katie McCallum and Donald I. VanDerKarr after announcing his plans to investigate the NAHF.

On February 1st, 2017, Congressman Turner sent a letter to Mr. Harris alerting him that the NAHF must cease and desist all deliberation, efforts, or activities that relate to selling or improperly disposing of artifacts in the NAHF’s possession.

On February 2nd, the NAHF assured Congressman Turner “that there has not been any action or even consideration in over a year of selling the signed Wright propeller which is the only significant artifact owned by the National Aviation Hall of Fame.”

On February 6th, 2017, Congressman Turner announced Phil Parker, President and CEO of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, Jeff Hoagland, President and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition, and Brady Kress, President and CEO of Dayton History, would be tasked with forming a Blue Ribbon Panel to create a sustainable plan for the NAHF’s future.

On February 6th, 2017, both Senator Rob Portman and the Chairman of the Natural Resources Committee Rob Bishop (UT-01) expressed their support of the investigation and the Blue Ribbon Panel.

On February 14th, 2017, NAHF President Michael J. Quiello said in an interview with Dayton Daily News that the NAHF could “vote to pick up the Hall of Fame and move it to some other city that’s welcoming to us.”

On February 15th, 2017, Congressman Turner sent a letter informing Mr. Harris  that he was drafting legislation to terminate the congressional charter of the NAHF.

In July 2017, Congressman Turner included language in the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 to keep the headquarters of the NAHF in Ohio.

In November 2017, the National Defense Authorization Act became law, keeping the NAHF headquarters in Ohio.

Congressman Turner is exercising his oversight authority to investigate these allegations concerning the congressionally chartered organization.