AOPA has worked with the National Aviation Heritage Area to offer badges through the AOPA app’s Pilot Passport feature for visiting certain airports and sites in the National Aviation Heritage Area in Ohio, which encompasses eight counties in the southwestern part of the state.
“Both AOPA and the National Aviation Heritage Area work to educate and support aviation’s history and future,” said Elizabeth Connor, National Aviation Heritage Area director of marketing and communications. “The inclusion of our National Aviation Heritage Area sites gives aviators and aviation enthusiasts the opportunity to visit and experience the Birthplace of Aviation—from the world’s first airfield to Neil Armstrong’s hometown and many other historic sites in between.”
Pilots who visit and check in at 10 museums and 10 airports in the National Aviation Heritage Area and at First Flight Airport in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, will earn a Gold National Aviation Heritage Area badge; those who check in at eight each will earn a Silver badge; and those who check in at four each will earn a Bronze badge.
“Recently, a former NASA astronaut came to Huffman Prairie Flying Field and I had the opportunity to talk with him while he explored. As we talked, he referred to the Field as ‘hallowed ground.’ This wasn’t the first time I’d heard that term applied to one of our sites,” Connor said. “To be able to connect that history—that reverence—to pilots and aviation enthusiasts with the AOPA Pilot Passport, is truly exciting.”
A stop at First Flight Airport is needed to earn the gold badge because of its significance to the Wright brothers’ powered flight efforts. While the brothers did most of their work on the aircraft in Ohio, they first flew at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Pilots who fly to the airport can also visit the Wright Brothers National Memorial.
Visiting and checking in at the following Ohio landing facilities, museums, and heritage sites count toward badges.
Museums and historic sites
Many of the areas highlighted make wonderful daytrips and family outings, like the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Another great destination that could take up part of a day and provide the opportunity for multiple check-ins is Grimes Field. Check off one airport and two museums by flying to Grimes Field. The Champaign Aviation Museum and Grimes Flying Lab are both located at Grimes Field. (And if you want to add another check in, stop in at the airport restaurant for a meal and some delicious pie and check in for the $100 Hamburger Airport Amenity badge.)
If you share your National Aviation Heritage Area visits on social media, use the #ComeDiscoverFly hashtag.