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Aviation Trail, Inc., Records (MS-577)

Identifier: MS-577

Scope and Contents

This collection contains a wide selection of materials that document the history and activities of Aviation Trail, Inc., with the bulk of materials pertaining to each trail site. Record types include fundraising materials, pamphlets, flyers, guides, maps, photographs, and news clippings of the official trail sites, as well as drafts of the trail and descriptions of potential historic sites.

Series I, Administration, 1973-2014, is the largest series of the collection and is broken down into five subseries.

Subseries IA, General, 1978-2011, contains information regarding the history and development of the Aviation Trail. Records also include by-laws, articles of incorporation, and mission statements. Additionally, there are folders dedicated to the committees involved with various business operations, including the Executive Committee and Planning Committee. Items within this series also document legal occurrences.

Subseries IB, Trail Sites Council, 1997-2013, documents council operations and their involvement with the development and improvement of Aviation Trail Inc. sites. Materials also include handwritten notes, meeting minutes, memoranda, and rosters.

Subseries IC, Board of Trustees, 1981-2014, includes meeting minutes, agendas, and hand-written notes that document events, site projects, financial matters and other Aviation Trail, Inc., business operations.

Subseries ID, Correspondence, 1973-2013, contains various letters sent between Aviation Trail Inc., and other public enterprises. Materials also include official correspondence exchanged between Aviation Trail, Inc., employees and committee members.

Subseries IE, Membership, 1981-2013, contains Membership Committee materials, such as meeting minutes and notes. Additional items in this series are correspondence, newsletters, as well as membership lists and profiles. It also includes a box of membership index cards.

Series II, Financial, 1981-2013, documents Aviation Trail, Inc., operational expenses. Records include materials, such as Treasurer’s Reports, budgets, profit and loss statements, financial summaries, site projects, fundraising materials, and event expenditures.

Series III, Events, 1981-2013, documents events hosted by Aviation Trail, Inc., and its official sites. Items include flyers, pamphlets, notes, speeches, and attendance. The bulk of this series pertains to events, such as the Trailblazer Awards, Annual Luncheon, and the Centennial of Powered Flight.

Series IV, Aviation Trail Sites, 1964-2013, documents the history of each Trail site and its relation to Dayton’s aviation heritage, such as Carillon Park and Woodland Cemetery. Records types within this series are pamphlets, written histories, publications, architectural and building restoration plans, building illustrations, exhibit plans, and maps. Materials at the end of the series include site tour details, video notes, and Wilbear prize information. Some background material items in this series predate the creation of Aviation Trail, Inc.

Series V, National Park Service, 1989-2011, captures the National Park Service’s efforts in restoring Aviation Heritage in the Dayton, Ohio, region. Materials in this series include National Park Committee planning, appraisal reports, visitor studies, surveys, in addition to interpretive themes and activities, such as Bicycling the Aviation Trail. Collectively, these materials document the growth and development of the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park.

Series VI, Publications, 1981-2007, contains records relating to official Aviation Trail, Inc., publications, such as A Field Guide to Flight, Guidebook, and The First Ten Years. These publications explain the history and importance of Dayton’s aviation heritage. In addition, they document the growth of Aviation Trail, Inc., and their efforts in preserving local aviation history. Records types include publication notes, book reviews, flyers, news articles, and correspondence. (Note: Published books, such as A Field Guide to Flight, and the organizational newsletters Wright Flyer have been cataloged and are available in the Special Collections and Archives reading room, rather than in the manuscript collection.)

Series VII, Subject Files, 1973-2006, includes information and history on the Wright Brothers, University of Dayton Elderhostel, and additional aviation sites. Items within this series are not directly related to Aviation Trail, Inc., but are still pertinent to the collection. These subject files demonstrate Aviation Trail’s involvement and affiliation with other community groups, organizations, additional aviation sites, and public figures. Record types include biographies, articles, pamphlets, flyers, pictures, and notes.

Series VIII, Photographs, 1924-1925, 1967-2003, documents the history and development of Aviation Trail, Inc., sites. These records also capture organizational events, such the Trail Blazer Awards and the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park Ground Breaking Ceremony. This series contains boxes with various photographic slides relating to Aviation Trail, Inc., sites, events, and members. Some original photographs in this series predate the creation of Aviation Trail, Inc., by several decades.


  • Creation: 1924-2014
  • Creation: Majority of material found within ( 1980-2014)


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Aviation Trail, Inc., retains copyright to any and all of its own publications. Other 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.

Biographical / Historical

The Dayton Aviation Trail is a self-guided tour of selected, aviation-related sites open to the public. The trail grew out of a regional economic development conference held at the University of Dayton on November 18-19, 1980, which was co-sponsored by the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission and the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce. The purpose of its creation was to use Dayton’s unique aviation heritage to market the region as a tourist and business attraction.

In February 1981, an official committee was formed to implement a tourist organization. Five months later, on August 3, 1981, the committee established a not-for-profit corporation called Aviation Trail, Inc. Since then, their mission has been to identify and preserve the Dayton and the Miami Valley’s aviation heritage, as well as engaging in promotional and educational activities to spread awareness of the region’s rich history.

After discovering two Wright Brothers sites in original condition, their mission of Aviation Trail, Inc. expanded to include preservation. In 1982, they acquired the Wright Cycle Company building. This site was developed into the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center, currently under the administration of the National Park Service.

As of 2019, the trail consists of 18 aviation related sites, such as Carillon Historical Park, Huffman Prairie Flying Field, The Wright Cycle Company, and National Aviation Hall of Fame. Today, visitors who tour a minimum number of sites can receive a free “Wilbear Wright” aviation teddy bear.

For more information, visit the organization’s web site at


12.9 linear feet

Language of Materials



Aviation Trail, Inc., began in 1981 as an aviation-themed marketing effort in Dayton, Ohio. Initially including over 30 historical sites in the Miami Valley area relating to aviation history, a small self-guided tour brochure highlighting 16 sites was published. As of 2019, the Trail includes 18 sites.


The collection is organized into 8 series and 5 subseries:

  1. Series I: Administration, 1973-2014
  2. Subseries IA: General, 1978-2011
  3. Subseries IB: Trail Sites Council, 1997-2013
  4. Subseries IC: Board of Trustees, 1981-2014
  5. Subseries ID: Correspondence, 1973-2013
  6. Subseries IE: Membership, 1981-2013
  7. Series II: Financial, 1981-2013
  8. Series III: Events, 1981-2013
  9. Series IV: Aviation Trail Sites, 1964-2013
  10. Series V: National Park Service, 1989-2011
  11. Series VI: Publications, 1981-2007
  12. Series VII: Subject Files, 1973-2006
  13. Series VIII: Photographs, 1924-1925, 1967-2003

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Aviation Trail, Inc., Records were donated to Special Collections and Archives, Wright State University Libraries, in November 2015, by Marvin Christian, President, on behalf of the organization.


Additional accruals are anticipated.

Related Materials

MS-1: Wright Brothers Collection. MS-310: Dave Gold Parachute Collection. MS-343: WACO Aircraft Company Photographic Collection. MS-414: Woodland Cemetery Collection.

Separated Materials

Published books (e.g., Field Guide to Flight) and organizational newsletters (e.g., Wright Flyer) have been separated to the cataloged books and periodicals collection in the Special Collections and Archives reading room.


Publications: Johnson, Mary Ann. A Field Guide to Flight: On the Aviation Trail in Dayton, Ohio. Dayton: Landfall Press, 1986. Call number TL522.O3 J64 1986. Johnson, Mary Ann. A Field Guide to Flight: On the Aviation Trail in Dayton, Ohio. Revised edition. Dayton: Landfall Press, 1997. Call number TL522.O3 J64 1997.

Guide to the Aviation Trail, Inc., Records (MS-577)
Allie Edmonds, Lisa Rickey
2019 Aug 8
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Language of description note
Processing of the Aviation Trail, Inc., Records, was made possible through the generous support of Aviation Trail, Inc.

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