MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The public is invited to engage in conversation with notable aviation and history scholars and to commemorate a century of flight in Alabama on Friday, March 26, 2010, at the Alabama Department of Archives and History.
The symposium will coincide with a reception and display of Air Force art at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts on Thursday, March 25, and a two-day air show and open house at Maxwell AFB on Saturday and Sunday, March 27 and 28.
From late March to late May 1910, Wilbur and Orville Wright operated the nation's first civilian flying school on open plantation land just west of the Montgomery city limits in what is today Maxwell Air Force Base. These were the first heavier-than-air flights in the state, and they set the stage for a century of aerospace development in Alabama.
According to symposium organizer and AU History Department professor Dr. Bill Trimble, the Wrights' school and the flights in Montgomery "marked the beginning of the state's rich aerospace heritage." He adds that "the symposium provides an opportunity for everyone interested in aerospace history to study and discuss the meaning of flight and its importance for us in the 21st century."
Presenters at the symposium include Tom Crouch, Senior Curator of the Division of Aeronautics at the National Air and Space Museum and author of Wings: A History of Aviation from Kites to the Space Age, and Billy Singleton, author of Montgomery Aviation and chairman of the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame.
Singleton is also vice president of the Wright Brothers-Maxwell Field Museum project and a member of the board of directors of the Southern Museum of Flight, is the .
Noted historian-authors Wesley P. Newton and Julie Williams will also present. A special panel will feature the work of AU History Department graduate students Andrew Baird, Michael Johnson, Adrianne Hodgin and Sean Seyer.
Historians and archivists from Maxwell's Air University and the Air Force Historical Research Agency will participate, along with archivists from Auburn University and the Alabama Department of Archives and History.