For two days in 1929 the new Dayton Airport was celebrated.

When Dayton’s airport opened in 1929, it was a huge party. Here’s what happened.

The Dayton Airport was celebrated by the community 26 years after the Wright Brothers made their first successful flight over the sand dunes of Kitty Hawk.

A two-day dedication ceremony was held July 31-Aug. 1, 1929 for the airport located on 310 acres of land in Vandalia.

>>> PHOTOS: How the celebration looked in newspaper coverage

Two 80 by 120 foot hangars, a brick office and machine shop building, a water tower and a gasoline filling station with a yellow Ivan Driggs Monoplane known as “The Bumble Bee” attached to the roof made up the new airport, according to the Dayton International Airport website.

Three macadam surfaced runways 75 feet wide and 500 feet long converged together and pointed to the west.

A crowd estimated to be between 6,000 and 8,000 attended the dedication which featured “air stunts” and “talks by men prominent in aviation circles,” according to the Aug. 1, 1929 edition of the Dayton Daily News.

The “Vigilant,” the largest ship in the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co.’s fleet of dirigibles, flew to Dayton for the occasion and ascended over the airport, marking the start of the celebration.

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Citizens flocked to an exhibition of unfamiliar passenger-carrying and air-mail planes while dozens of airplanes from Wright Field swooped over the airport in a military display.  

In the late evening Lt. W.H. Brookley of Wright Field mesmerized the crowd with a fireworks and aerial flair display described as “a comet with a long golden tail of light issuing from the rear of the plane.”

“A flying circus consisting of various air maneuvers and an opportunity for the public to inspect some of the latest types of heavier and lighter-than-air conveyances which have taken their place in the world of flight,” was the how the newspaper described the event.

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The day after the celebration ended, Ruth Elder and Amelia Earhart, described as “two of the most famous flyers in the world,” made brief stops at the new airport.

The newspaper described the two aviation pioneers as “dropping in on the field unannounced.”

Elder, an actress knowns as the “Miss America of Aviation,” flew in on a Whirlwind Swallow and stayed long enough to refuel her plane on her way from St. Louis to Cleveland.

 

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Earhart landed in a Lockheed Vega she flew from Cleveland while on her way to California to “pick up the course of the national air races” and “to acquaint herself with the route and its markings,” according to the Dayton Daily News.

Earhart, her co-pilot and her mother, H.I. Earhart, stayed about an hour refueling the plane and refreshing themselves at the airport restaurant.

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