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Health, Science & Environment

To prep for America's 250th birthday, Ohio launches Air and Space trail

Nancy Royer, Executive Director at the WACO Air Museum in Troy holds the logo for the new Ohio Trails and Tales Air and Space Self-Guided Tour program
renee wilde
Nancy Royer, Executive Director at the WACO Air Museum in Troy holds the logo for the new Ohio Trails and Tales Air and Space Self-Guided Tour program

The WACO Air Museum in Troy hosted a kick off Thursday for the new Ohio Air and Space Trail, which highlights the state's rich aviation and aerospace history.

It's the first of six “Trail & Tales” programs planned in conjunction with the nation’s 250th birthday approaching in 2026. The anniversary celebrations are being planned by the America 250-Ohio commission.

"The big idea behind Trails and Tales is to tell Ohio’s story."

The event took place at the WACO Air Museum in Troy where officials from across the state and aviation enthusiasts came together to celebrate Ohio’s newly created Air and Space Trail.

Ohio’s rich aviation and aerospace history is unique, said Chris Hurtubise, Ohio History Connection communications director.

“The big idea behind Trails and Tales is to tell Ohio’s story: how we’ve impacted the U.S. for 250-plus years and, in this case, the air and space," Hurtubise said. "What we are going to do is share stories of Ohioans. And from the beginning with the Wright Brothers, to (being) one of the top states for producing astronauts and all the things in between, it’s still a current, contemporary part of Ohio’s story."

The trail features a map of over 30 locations spread across Ohio that will allow visitors to choose their own adventure from a self-guided tour.

The sites are grouped by seven themes:

  • Birthplace of Aviation,
  • Innovation,
  • Service to Country,
  • Training,
  • Preservation & Flying Experiences,
  • Space Exploration & Aviation,
  • and Feats and Spectacles.

America 250-Ohio Co-Chair Doug Preisse spoke to the crowd assembled among the historic aircraft in the WACO museum about the significance of the launch of the first Trail and Tales tourism trail.

Preisse, who co-chairs the commission with former Columbus Mayor Micheal Coleman, said that “these trails will highlight Ohio’s leadership in many industries, including the arts and agriculture.”

The commission is part of a nationwide celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Each state has been encouraged to commemorate the event by reflecting their unique character and contributions to the nation.

Members from America 250-Ohio gathered at the WACO Air Museum in Troy to kick off the first of 6 planned "Trails & Tales" programs celebrating America's semiquincentennial.
renee wilde
Members from America 250-Ohio gathered at the WACO Air Museum in Troy to kick off the first of 6 planned "Trails & Tales" programs celebrating America's semiquincentennial.

Mackensie Wittmer, National Aviation Heritage Area executive director, told the crowd that it was significant to launch the event at the WACO Air Museum, which houses a collection of historic planes and memorabilia from the WACO Aircraft Company — the largest manufacturer of civil aircraft in the country in the late 1920s and early 30s.

While the Dayton area played a significant role in the history of aviation, noted by the concentration of sites on the trail map in this region, "there are more than 30 organizations across the state sharing our collective contributions to aviation and space,” Wittmer said.

Other speakers at the event included Greg Simmons, Miami County commissioner, and State Rep. Adam Holmes, a member of Ohio’s Aviation and Aerospace Committee and America 250-Ohio Commission member.

A full list of the participating sites for the Ohio Air and Space trail, along with an interactive map, can be found at Ohioairandspace.com.

Five additional "Trail and Tales" will be completed by July 2026.

Tags
Health, Science & Environment Ohio NewsAir and Space TrailAviation
Renee Wilde is an award-winning independent public radio producer, podcast host, and hobby farmer living in the hinterlands of southwestern Ohio.