National Aviation Hall of Fame turns Learning Center management over to heritage organization

  • Dec 11, 2014 7:19am GMT

The Congressionally-chartered non-profit National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) held a press conference on Tuesday, December 8th, to announce an agreement that turns the management of its public learning center over to Dayton History, a locally-based museum organization. Dayton History currently operates six other prominent area heritage sites including the Wright Brothers’ estate known as Hawthorn Hill and a sprawling museum complex and education center near downtown that houses the original 1905 Wright Flyer, the world's first practical airplane.

NAHF and Dayton History officials were joined by Congressman Mike Turner (R-Ohio) in making the announcement in the NAHF’s Harry B. Combs Resource Lab, a gallery within the Learning Center that features the portraits of the 225 aviation legends honored thus far by the NAHF since the organization's founding in 1962.

As of January 1st, 2015, the public exhibit hall (known not as an artifact-based museum but as the NAHF Learning Center), will be managed by Dayton History, which will provide general maintenance, exhibit repair services, and the development of new displays that will further engage visitors in the stories of the NAHF’s enshrinees. The Learning Center, located adjacent to the National Museum of the United States Air Force (NMUSAF), is a 17,250 square-foot custom-designed facility featuring interactive displays, simulators and related exhibits. With free parking and admission, the NAHF Learning Center draws from the over one million annual visitors to the NMUSAF. The NAHF’s volunteer docents will be absorbed into Dayton History’s volunteer corps, managed on-site by a fulltime, professional education coordinator responsible for directing enhancements improving the visitor experience.

Several resulting media reports wrongly stated that Dayton History was taking over operation of the NAHF proper. NAHF board trustee, Wolfgang Dalichau, who served to make Tuesday’s announcement with Congressman Turner, was quick to clarify. “This agreement is strictly a local facility management and enhancement partnership,” said Dalichau. “Our board of trustees and office staff will continue to direct our national mission of ‘Honoring aerospace legends to inspire future leaders’, with our headquarters, merchandising, and archives operations remaining, as is, on the mezzanine level of the Center.”

Dalichau emphasized that ongoing Hall of Fame operations include administering the annual enshrinee selection process and hosting the yearly black-tie enshrinement dinner and ceremony, widely known as America’s Oscar Night of Aviation. “Our next official event is coming right up in our Center on December 16th - the national announcement of the four pioneers elected as our Enshrinee Class of 2015,” Dalichau added, pointing out that the 2015 induction ceremony will take place in the Learning Center and adjacent Air Force Museum Modern Flight Gallery on Friday, October 2nd.