On June 23, when thousands of Dayton area residents and out-of-towners were heading to the opening day of the Vectren Dayton Air Show, members of Cub Scout Pack 75 were walking the Wright-Dunbar Historical Neighborhood where the Wright Brothers designed and built their first plane.
“We started at Mt. Enon Missionary Baptist Church on West Third Street, where the pack meets,” said Cubmaster Johnnie Freeman. “We walked to the Paul Laurence Dunbar House, and from there to the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive and Aviation Trail Visitor Center.”
Even the church has an historical connection to the Wrights – both Katherine and Orville were members of the church when the building was completed and dedicated to house a United Brethren congregation.
At the Dunbar house, in addition to learning about the famous poet and his friendship with the Wright brothers, 9-year-old Moses Goodman III enjoyed seeing the old Viking bicycle given to Dunbar by the Wright brothers. The bike wasn’t made by the Wrights, but was taken in on trade at one of their bicycle shops.
After the tour of the house, with its many artifacts used by Dunbar and his mother, “we had a birthday celebration for Dunbar on the back lawn, since his birthday was June 27, 1872,” said Moses’ mother and Wright-Dunbar resident Brenda Goodman. “The boys read his poems and we had lunch there. The house and items in it reminded me so much of my grandmother’s house – it was very informative.”
Before leaving the Dunbar House, the scouts helped bring in the chairs and tables from the lawn.
”They have to do a good turn daily,” Freeman noted.
From the Dunbar House on North Paul Laurence Dunbar (Summit) Street, the scouts walked to the Wright Cycle Shop and Interpretive Center on the corner of Third Street and Williams Avenue.
“It was great walking around the neighborhood,“ said Moses, “and I learned a lot about the Wrights’ inventions and their attempts at flight at the Visitors Center.”
There, they visited the Wright Cycle Shop and also saw the press used by Orville Wright to print Dunbar’s neighborhood newspaper, The Dayton Tattler.
Freeman noted that the scouts not only visited both sites, but watched videos and listened to the ranger guides as well. “They were given booklets that the rangers had them fill out correctly before they could get a badge or patch.”
Devan Donelson, 9-year-old son of Dana Dennis, knew the Wright Brothers repaired, made and sold bicycles and built and flew the first airplane, “but, I learned about other attempts to fly and that the Wrights made a lot of planes before their first successful flight,” he said. “At the Dunbar house, I learned the Wrights and Dunbar were all friends. I thought it was cool that they had all been there in that neighborhood, and that Paul bought that house for his mother.”
Ironically, when the group was at the Visitors Center, “we met a man who’d brought his Boy Scouts from out-of-town for the air show,” said Freeman. “They all had the Aviation Trail maps they followed, and we were able to share information with them.”
On the same day the local scouts were exploring the neighborhood of the Wrights and Dunbar, the Blue Angels were flying at the air show, as well as the Tuskegee Airmen’s plane, the P-51 Mustang Red Tail. It showed what the Wrights’ experiments and success with flight have made possible.