NASA Astronaut Gregory H. Johnson
NASA astronaut and retired Air Force colonel Gregory H. Johnson will discuss his exciting mission to the International Space Station as the pilot of Space Shuttle Endeavour earlier this summer. (Photo courtesy of NASA)
Family Day program to honor Hap Arnold on Aug. 20

by Bryan D. Carnes
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

8/3/2011 - DAYTON, Ohio -- The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is commemorating National Aviation Day with a special Family Day program "From the Wright Brothers to Space: the Hap Arnold Legacy!" Free educational activities will be held throughout the museum from 10 a.m.-3p.m. on Aug. 20.

National Aviation Day is a celebration of all things related to aviation and is held on the anniversary of Orville Wright's birthday (140 years ago on Aug. 19). The museum chose to honor General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, the first - and only five-star General of the Air Force, whose career spanned the history of aviation from the Wright brothers to post-War World II. Arnold was taught to fly by the Wright brothers here in Dayton, Ohio, and his insight and inspiration has carried the Air Force well into the space age!

Throughout his career, one of Arnold's greatest legacies is his understanding and support of research and development and his reliance on scientists and engineers to help make the United States' air force the world power that it became by the end of WWII. He supported the development of bombers like the B-29 and B-36, jet fighters, rocketry, radar and other electronic warfare devices. Looking far into the future, Arnold created the Scientific Advisory Group, now the Scientific Advisory Board. This group produced long-range studies about the future of military aviation, and its recommendations included elements vital to the operation of the modern U.S. Air Force, including jet and rocket propulsion, long-distance communication systems, remotely piloted vehicles and the exploitation of outer space.

During Family Day the museum will commemorate Arnold's legacy by looking at many aspects of aerospace science, technology and history through a variety of aerospace demo stations from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. These aviation and space topics are appropriate for all ages and will span the era from the Wright brothers to present day. Activities will include building and flying egg carton gliders and playing Bernoulli Skee Ball, as well as an information booth on the Hap Arnold story, featuring photos, film footage and copies of museum archival items. In addition, there will be a storytime program for the younger audience at 11:30 a.m. that will feature stories of flight and include a hands-on craft project. All activities are free.

At 1:30 p.m., Astronaut Gregory H. Johnson (Col., USAF, Ret) will discuss his exciting mission to the International Space Station as the pilot of Space Shuttle Endeavour earlier this summer! Johnson is a graduate of Park Hills High School in Fairborn, Ohio. To honor Hap Arnold's tremendous contributions to aviation history and technology and his support of an American space program, Johnson carried a set of Hap Arnold's 5-star insignia aboard the shuttle as it made its final voyage into space. After the presentation about his mission, Johnson will return the Hap Arnold insignia to the museum. An autograph session will follow the ceremony.

The astronaut presentation, Hap Arnold insignia ceremony and autograph session will take place in the Carney Auditorium. Tickets are required for the astronaut presentation and the Hap Arnold insignia ceremony due to limited seating. Tickets are free and will be distributed beginning at 9 a.m. on Aug. 20 in the museum lobby. You must be present to receive a ticket.

The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located on Springfield Street, six miles northeast of downtown Dayton. It is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day). Admission and parking are free. For more information about the museum, visit

NOTE TO PUBLIC: For more information, please contact the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at (937) 255-4646.

NOTE TO MEDIA: For more information, please contact Robert Bardua at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Public Affairs Division at (937) 255-1386.