State aviation hall of fame picks Columbus air terminal as home

Ohio Air & Space Hall of Fame and Museum image. Contributed

The newly established Ohio Air & Space Hall of Fame and Museum has signed a long-term lease for the Port Columbus Air Terminal at John Glenn International Airport in Columbus, the museum said Wednesday.

Among those leading the effort is a name that should be familiar to Dayton aviation history enthusiasts, Ron Kaplan.

Ohio government appropriated a $550,000 grant toward the $2 million cost of renovating the 12,000 square-foot-plus, art deco-style air terminal, which has been in disuse for nearly 15 years, the museum said in an announcement Wednesday.

Once the building’s three stories and control tower are renovated, the air terminal and surrounding 1.7 acres will be a “civic showpiece," the museum promised.

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The Ohio Air & Space Hall of Fame and Museum is distinct from the National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF).

Kaplan left the NAHF in July 2017 after years of service and involvement in different roles. The new state hall of fame and museum is a non-profit organization Kaplan founded, and he said he is working with central Ohioans to save the Franklin County airport terminal.

“The state grant of $550K is the cornerstone of our fundraising," Kaplan said in an email to the Dayton Daily News Wednesday.

While at the national organization — which remains anchored at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base —Kaplan and his colleagues often assisted states that were establishing their own hall of fames.

Ron Kaplan announced his resignation in 2017 as enshrinement and outreach director of the National Aviation Hall of Fame. In this February 2017 photo, Kaplan points out the signature of Orville Wright on an original Wright propeller. FILE

“We all chuckled at the time that Ohio was among the handful of states to NOT have its own aviation hall of fame, despite being the birthplace of aviation,” Kaplan said. “Thus my motivation, in part, to fix that, and in so doing also save the beautiful but decaying 1929 art deco terminal and tower, historic in its own right. It is the ideal location for the OAS ( Ohio Air & Space) home.”

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Kaplan, a Kettering resident, had served the congressionally-chartered National Aviation Hall of Fame since 1998, including four years as executive director.

Kaplan in 2017 said he was leaving his then-position as NAHF enshrinement and outreach director to expand his aviation and media consulting service.

“We just have differences of philosophy on the direction of the organization and how it should be run,” Kaplan told the Dayton Daily News in 2017. “It became evident that it would be best for both parties if I transitioned to other vistas.”

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