Senate Committee Passes Portman, Brown Legislation to Reauthorize Ohio’s National Aviation Heritage Area

November 19, 2021 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced that their legislation to extend the authorization for Ohio’s National Aviation Heritage Area (NAHA) was reported favorably out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee as part of the National Heritage Area Authority Extension Act of 2021. Their legislation, introduced in April, 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 pleased that we are one step close to ensuring that the NAHA is preserved and enjoyed by future generations.”

“The innovative spirit of aviation pioneers like the Wright Brothers is 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 will continue.”

“The stories of the National Aviation Heritage Area have never been more relevant than they are today. They fuel the imagination and inspire our youth to become part of humankind's journey into space. This year alone, the Wright Brothers' pioneering technology was remembered when NASA successfully completed its first flight on the planet Mars. Orville and Wilbur Wright were forever honored when the airfield was named Wright Brothers Field.  I thank Senators Portman and Brown for ensuring the preservation and sharing of these stories with Americans and international visitors as we enter the next phase of human travel and exploration.” –Amanda Wright Lane, Great-grandniece of the Wright Brothers

“The National Aviation Heritage Area preserves and promotes our nation’s legacy and leadership in aviation and aerospace. I commend Senators Portman and Brown for championing S. 1329, the National Aviation Heritage Area Reauthorization Act. This legislation will allow southwest Ohio to continue its collaborative work to stimulate cultural heritage tourism and attract the aviation and aerospace industry.” –Col. Susan Richardson, USAF (Ret.), Chair, National Aviation Heritage Alliance

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. The heritage area receives $300,000-$400,000 per year in federal funding.