Portman, Brown Introduce Legislation to Reauthorize Ohio’s National Aviation Heritage Area

April 23, 2021 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) have introduced legislation to extend the authorization for Ohio’s National Aviation Heritage Area (NAHA), which will allow the heritage area to continue receiving federal funding through September 30, 2036. The NAHA is slated to expire on September 30, 2022, after Senators Portman and Brown secured a two-year reauthorization for the heritage area in the FY 2020 government funding bill.

The NAHA spans eight counties throughout western Ohio, with a large presence in Dayton, the home of the Wright Brothers. There are a variety of cultural sites within the NAHA, including the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Park, Armstrong Air and Space Museum, Huffman Prairie Flying Field, the Paul Laurence Dunbar House, and Grimes Flying Field, as well as resources related to the Wright Brothers. The annual economic impact of the National Aviation Heritage Area is valued at $226 million. On an average year, NAHA welcomes 1.4 million visitors, supports 265 full-time jobs, and 261 part-time jobs.

“The National Aviation Heritage Area is home to our nation’s aviation history, telling the story of the Wright Brothers’ development of the first airplane. It has proven to be a successful public-private partnership, generating more than $200 million in economic impact from the millions of visitors it receives each year, said Portman. “This heritage area supports local communities through economic development and education about the region’s aviation legacy. I am proud to introduce this legislation to continue to ensure that the NAHA is preserved and enjoyed by future generations.”

“The cultural contributions of Paul Laurence Dunbar and the technological advancements of the Wright Brothers are reflected throughout Dayton’s National Aviation Heritage Area,” said Brown. “It’s a privilege to represent a state with such historical significance, and I’m proud to stand with Senator Portman in our effort to ensure that federal investment in the National Aviation Heritage Area’s will continue.”

“As Chair of the National Aviation Heritage Alliance, I want to highlight the bipartisan leadership of Ohio’s Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown in recognizing Ohio’s unique heritage in aviation and aerospace. Their support means the National Aviation Heritage Alliance can nurture and grow the longstanding private-public partnerships for aviation preservation, education, and economic development,” said Richard T. Prasse, Board Chair, National Aviation Heritage Alliance

“For the past 17 years, the National Aviation Heritage Area has raised the profile of southwest Ohio through federal funding and community partnerships. This work has led to numerous advantages for the economic development of the region – both in aviation/aerospace and in preservation. Senator Rob Portman and Senator Sherrod Brown are consistent advocates of our region’s heritage and its impact on future development. The legislation introduced today recognizes southwest Ohio’s importance in the global marketplace and ensures its success for the next 15 years,” said Mackensie Wittmer, Executive Director, National Aviation Heritage Alliance

“This past week, a tiny piece of fabric from the Wright Brothers 1903 Flyer, flew on Mars aboard the NASA helicopter, Ingenuity....the success stories of the Perseverance Mars exploration mission and the Wright Brothers first manned powdered flight are told in the National Aviation Heritage Area. The legislation Senators Portman and Brown introduced will insure that these inspiring moments in history will be preserved for the American people, and retold to our youth, for years to come,” said Amanda Wright Lane, Great-grandniece of the Wright Brothers

Since 1984, Congress has established 55 National Heritage Areas to preserve important natural, historic, cultural, and recreational areas across the nation. NAHA was designated in 2004 (P.L. 108-447) and was originally authorized to receive federal funding for 15 years. Senators Portman and Brown secured a two-year reauthorization for NAHA in the FY 2020 government funding bill through September 30, 2022. The heritage area receives $300,000-$400,000 per year in federal funding.