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Brad Tillson Inventing Flight Collection

Identifier: MS-483

Scope and Content

Brad Tillson was chair of the Inventing Flight Celebration and a member of the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission that helped plan and publicize the events celebrating flight around the country. These events took place in many different states, which celebrated with symposiums, reenactments, tours, exhibits and many more events. The collection records his work with the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission and his position of chairman for the Inventing Flight Celebration. The collection is divided in to seven series and two subseries.

Series I, Administrative, includes meeting minutes, event reports, plans and budgets for the U.S. Centennial Commission and the Inventing Flight Celebration. This extensive collection contains information from the beginning of the Inventing Flight Commission first established in 1989. The collection contains information on the planning, board meetings, finances, marketing and other administrative functions of the commission. The documents are broken into ten separate sections. One section, the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park and Related Events. This section details the work completed by the committee to help establish the historical park and the surrounding community as a lasting legacy of the Centennial Celebration of Flight.

Series II, Correspondence, is the record of communication between Brad Tillson and others involved in the planning process. Some correspondence is made of responses to Tillson, while others are copies of letters and emails that Tillson sent. Related documents were left attached to provide greater detail into the relationship of the communication. They are arranged in chronological order and cover all aspects of Brad Tillson's and the committee's work, from sponsorship and marketing to event schedules and budgets. The correspondence represents the line of communication for many of the planning processes that took place.

Series III, Speeches and Presentations, is a small series dedicated to the speeches and presentations that Brad Tillson gave while acting as chairman for the Inventing Flight Commission. These include slideshows given to showcase the main event.

Series IV, Publications, are the many newspapers, magazines, pamphlets and brochures printed for and about the events taking place for the Inventing Flight Celebration. Researchers should, in the first folder of the series is an index to all newspaper articles printed in 2003 pertaining to the Inventing Flight Celebration. The index documents the publishing newspaper, the date of printing and other information related to each article.

Series V, Related Events, is a collection of materials that represent many of the other events that occurred in Dayton and around the country to celebrate the centennial of flight. While the items contained are brief, they represent an overview of the events that took place. The Inventing Flight Commission partnered with groups like Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the National Aviation Hall of Fame, and many more, to create events for the public to celebrate the centennial of flight. Other events that occurred outside of Ohio include the First Flight Centennial in North Carolina, National Air and Space Museum exhibits, and the Aviation World's Fair '2003'.

Series VI, Memorabilia, includes materials that Brad Tillson collected throughout his time as chairman. It includes certificates awarded to him, tickets to events he attended, and first flight USPS stamps. Of note is a bank receipt signed by Orville Wright.

Series VII, Audio Visual, includes informational videos produced about the Inventing Flight Celebration, as well as presentations and historical information regarding the Wright Brothers.


  • Creation: 1912-2006
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1989-2004


Restrictions on Access

There are no restrictions on accessing materials in this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

History of Brad Tillson and Inventing Flight

Brad Tillson joined the Dayton Daily News in 1971 becoming editor of the newspaper in 1984 and publisher in 1988. He was named President and CEO of Cox Ohio Publishing in 1996. He served as the chairman to the Inventing Flight Commission, established to celebrate the centennial of flight in Dayton.

This collection details the work that Brad Tillson performed as chair of the Dayton Commission. This celebration was a large program developed to honor the Wright Brothers first flight on December 17, 1903. The celebration included many events throughout Dayton with the main event and ceremonies running July 3-20, 2003. Some of the events include: International Airship meet, educational exhibits, the Dayton Air Show, and other events to celebrate the centennial of flight.

The Inventing Flight Commission was first established in 1989 as the 2003 Committee, dedicated to the organization of the centennial celebrations that were to occur in 2003. The 2003 Committee officially became the Inventing Flight: Dayton Celebration Commission on April 19, 1999. This organization not only planned the events that would become the Inventing Flight Celebration, but they aided in creating a lasting legacy in Dayton by partnering with Aviation Trail, Inc. to create the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park. This includes the Wright-Dunbar Interpretative Center, Wright Aviation Center, Huffman Prairie Flying Field Interpretative Center and the Paul Laurence Dunbar State Memorial, four different locations that were saved, preserved and made available to educate the public.


9.5 linear feet (18 boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection contains the personal papers of J. Bradford Tillson, the chairman of the Inventing Flight Celebration held in Dayton, Ohio. It documents his correspondence and work on the Inventing Flight Celebration Commission and his involvement with the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission; the committee for the national celebration of flight. This collection contains personal correspondence, financial documentation, planning information and other materials related to the Centennial of Flight Celebration.

Statement of Arrangement

The Brad Tillson Inventing Flight Collection is arranged into seven series and two subseries:

  1. Series I: Administrative
  2. Subseries IA: 2003 Committee/Inventing Flight
  3. Subseries IB: Centennial of Flight Commission
  4. Series II: Correspondence
  5. Series III: Speeches and Presentations
  6. Series IV: Publications
  7. Series V: Related Events
  8. Series VI: Memorabilia
  9. Series VII: Audio Visual

Technical Requirements

Electronic media will need specific devices to view material.

Acquisition Information

Donated to Wright State University Special Collections and Archives by Brad Tillson January 2010.


No further accruals are expected.

Related Material

SC-214 Centennial of Flight

Additional information on the national celebration of flight can be found on the web site of the National Commission of the Centennial of Flight. This site will remain accessible to the public in perpetuity.

Processing Information

Processed by: Adam Becker, April 2014

Guide to the Brad Tillson Inventing Flight Collection
Adam Becker, 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Wright State University Libraries
Special Collections and Archives
3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy
Dayton OH 45435-0001 USA