Second Wright Brothers Day will celebrate innovation

Photo of NASA Wright brothers impersonators Tom Benson and Roger Storm at Wright Brothers Day

Roger Storm (left) and Tom Benson, both from NASA, examine a micro air vehicle at the 2011 Wright Brothers Day.

Wright State University will host the second Wright Brothers Day next month to celebrate the university’s namesakes and the spirit of innovation they symbolize.

A student organization, the Wright State Chapter of the American Marketing Association, will hold the event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 4, in the Student Union Atrium. It will include speakers, activities, historical and technology displays and food.

The group organized the event last year to raise awareness among students that Wright State is named for Wilbur and Orville Wright, who co-invented the airplane in their west Dayton bicycle shop and did most of their early test flying on Huffman Prairie, close to where Wright State stands today.

“Last year’s Wright Brothers Day demonstrated how much motivated students can accomplish with the guidance and collaboration of university faculty and community leaders,” said Bryan Roper, a marketing senior and the chapter’s co-president.

“This year builds upon that legacy and serves as an opportunity for a new group of students to develop professionally in planning, promotion and other facets of marketing,” Roper said.

Gov. John Kasich recognized the event by proclaiming Oct. 5 Wright Brothers Day in Ohio and urging citizens to honor the contributions of the Wright brothers. He has repeated the proclamation this year.

The first Wright Brothers Day drew local media coverage, and Wright Brothers Day photos were featured in a presentation to hundreds of colleagues at the American Marketing Association’s Collegiate Conference in New Orleans.

The student-led effort also sparked a growing relationship between the Department of Marketing in Wright State’s Raj Soin College of Business and the National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA), a local nonprofit chartered by Congress to promote the rich aviation history within the eight-county National Aviation Heritage Area surrounding Dayton.

Tony Sculimbrene, NAHA’s executive director, said his organization supported the first Wright Brothers Day with displays and activities, and at the event he met several marketing department faculty members. NAHA worked with them to create a paid internship for a Wright State student who continues to work part-time for the organization.

Sculimbrene said Professor Rosemary Ramsey, Ph.D., has joined NAHA’s branding and marketing advisory council, and both she and Associate Professor Kevin Duffy, Ph.D., have engaged marketing students in projects that are helping NAHA shape its marketing strategy.

Some local aviation heritage sites also have reported more student visitors since last year’s Wright Brothers Day, Sculimbrene said.

While the Wright brothers’ Dayton connection might be familiar to many students from the local area, “There are a lot of young people who come to Wright State from outside the Dayton area who are not familiar with the Wright brothers’ story,” Sculimbrene said.

Orville Wright’s 12-second hop at Kitty Hawk in 1903 made history by proving powered flight was possible, but it was on nearby Huffman Prairie that he and his brother Wilbur continued their experiments until they had achieved a practical flying machine.

Oct. 5 is an important date in aviation history because it was then that Wilbur demonstrated practical flight by staying aloft for nearly 40 minutes in the 1905 Wright Flyer III.

The marketing chapter scheduled this year’s Wright Brother’s Day event for Oct. 4 because the Student Union was unavailable on Oct. 5, Roper said.

The event is sponsored in part with a monetary gift from Brower Insurance.

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