Wright Brothers statue the size of the Statue of Liberty could come to the Miami Valley
BUTLER TWP, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - Imagine a monument the size of the St. Louis Arch or Statue of Liberty right here in the Miami Valley.
It's actually close to becoming a reality.
The plans for a new Wright Brothers statue is picking up steam, but organizers still need to raise $21 million to make it happen.
When driving down the Crossroads of America at I-70 and I-75, there's a small off road park easy to pass. But soon it will be hard to ignore.
“We have 63 million visitors driving north, south, east and west pass by every year,” Retied Airforce Colonel Curt Nelson said.
Nelson and architect Steve Brown said it's the perfect spot for a monument.
They plan to replace a fountain in a Butler Township retaining pond, with the Triumph of Flight monument.
“It's a skyscraper, it's huge and what's on top of it is going to be awesome,” Nelson said.
On top will be the Wright Flyer, similar to a statue downtown near Riverscape.
But the new monument is much larger, 27 stories tall.
“It's about 3 1/2 times the size of the original 1905 flyer,” Brown said.
Brown said it will be made of stainless steel.
“One of the important goals of this project is to make it as maintenance free as we can make it,” Brown said.
At its base, there'll be statues honoring Neil Armstrong and John Glenn. They also plan to build an Ohio Aviation Hall of Fame.
“It's not a Dayton monument, it’s a monument for flight for the whole nation,” Nelson said. “But it will become synonymous with Dayton.”
Rocky Verneker lives nearby. He's excited about the possibility.
“With this good news it's really good for the community,” Verneker said.
But going from an idea to reality has its challenges.
“The problem that remains is getting that money together, so we're looking for donors,” Nelson said.
Later this year, organizers plan to launch a fundraising campaign. Paying for the project with private donations.
Nelson and Brown have hope major donors will step up as they try to put Dayton on the map.
“Keeping our fingers crossed and keep working hard to do whatever it takes to make this happen,” Brown said.