Dayton Aviation Heritage T-shirt marks the Mars moment

NASA dubs area of Mars “Wright Brothers Field.”

A new T-shirt from the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Area marks the moment when a piece of Wright Brothers — and Dayton — history flew on Mars.

On Monday, a NASA/JPL helicopter, dubbed “Ingenuity,” launched from the Perseverance rover on the surface of the Mars.

The $85 million helicopter carried with it a small patch of fabric from the lower left wing of the 1903 Wright Flyer, and the Mars rover from which the copter launched enjoys a few, distinct Dayton-area technological connections, thanks to the University of Dayton and L3Harris in Mason.

Ingenuity’s achievement marks the first powered flight on the surface of another planet. The Wrights’ 1903 Flyer, of course, was the first airplane that flew in a piloted, powered flight, over a North Carolina beach in 1903.

You can purchase a limited edition item to support Earth’s first airfield and Dayton’s national park. Check it out at

“We are thrilled to launch this limited-edition line to support our globally important Wright brothers story. 100% of the proceeds will benefit Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park’s mission fund and our Wright brothers story,” Elizabeth Connor, the area’s director of communications, said in an announcement.

The area worked with local designer Jennifer Perry, whose family has a connection to this space history, according to the area’s release. Perry’s father worked on a variety of aerospace projects, including Apollo, SkyLab and the Lunar Rover.

Said Connor: “I had no idea of her connection to space when we started talking, but for me this makes the project even more remarkable.”

After Ingenuity’s flight, NASA Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen announced the name for the Martian airfield on which the flight took place, the park noted. “As an homage to the two innovative bicycle makers from Dayton, this first of many airfields on other worlds will now be known as Wright Brothers Field, in recognition of the ingenuity and innovation that continue to propel exploration.”

Huffman Prairie Flying Field, today controlled by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, served as Earth’s first airfield. Huffman is where Orville and Wilbur Wright devised and refined their practical airplane: the Wright Flyer III, now found at Carillon Historical Park.

The Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Area is a non-profit that supports the national park in Dayton and more than 15 different aviation sites in eight counties.

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