There is now such a thing as the Fairborn Historical Society, and they held a very interesting talk today about the history of Wright Field. There were two speakers. The first one had written several short histories about Dayton aviation and Wright-Patterson AFB, and the second one was the architect in charge of restoring Wright-Patt’s historic buildings. There was a lot of good information.
One thing that was new to me was the existence of a POW camp at Wright Field during WWII, almost literally next door to several classified research areas. The German and Italian POWs unloaded train cars. They also left a 120 foot mural behind.
One of the base’s contributions to the war effort was Project LUSTY, which stood for LUftwaffe Secret TechnologY. (Yeah, a little bit of acronym torture….) Captured planes and documents were brought over to the US and studied. One pristine Messerschmidt jet plane was delivered fresh from the factory to the Americans in France, courtesy of its ferry pilot’s decision to defect. Thanks to test flights, this plane eventually ended up as wreckage in a field two miles outside Xenia. The farmer held out for money from the government before permitting retrieval… and he’s still waiting! It’s still there!
We also learned about the amazing airminded skullduggery of Colonel Deeds, something that I certainly had never heard about. What was really amazing was that he was never indicted. Dayton’s local heroes are a very mixed bag!