It was in and around the city of Dayton, Ohio, that Orville and Wilbur Wright made their pioneering efforts in human flight. In 1905, they constructed and tested the Wright Flyer III, the first airplane that could take off, fly until it exhausted its fuel supply, land safely, and do so repeatedly. The result turned the airplane into a practical reality that has, in just over a century, incalculably affected numerous aspects of human life. The sites include one of the shops where their early experiments were conducted; the field where the first sustained and controlled flights took place; the most significant of their early aircraft; and the long-time home of Orville Wright that reflects his success and stature in the new field of aviation. Together, these sites preserve critical evidence of events that have transformed the world.
Three components in this serial nomination are part of Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, a unit of the National Park System, although Huffman Prairie is owned by the U.S. Air Force and Wright Hall by Dayton History. Hawthorn Hill is owned by the Wright Family Foundation; there are plans to add the property to the park.
Huffman Prairie was a cow pasture when the Wrights began to use it in 1904 for test flights; it remains an open landscape. The small 2-story brick building that housed the Wright Cycle Company and Wright and Wright Printing in 1895-97 today houses exhibits and National Park Service offices. The Wright Flyer III, the first practical airplane, was tested at Huffman Prairie by the Wrights in 1905; it is enshrined in Wright Hall, a building constructed in the 1940s specifically to house it. Hawthorn Hill, a 2-1/2 story brick mansion, was the primary residence of Orville Wright between 1914 and 1948.