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Section 8 Evaluation

Congress charged the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission with playing the leading role in coordinating and publicizing public activities celebrating the achievements of Wilbur and Orville Wright and commemorating a century of powered flight. The U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission took this mission and created three goals for the celebration:

To achieve these goals, the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission was tasked with advising the President, Congress and federal agencies on the most effective ways to encourage and promote national and international participation in commemoration of the centennial of powered flight. The U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission also was to plan and develop, in coordination with the First Flight Centennial Commission and the First Flight Centennial Foundation of North Carolina, and Inventing Flight: Dayton 2003 of Ohio, programs and activities that were appropriate to commemorate the 100th anniversary of flight. In addition, the First Flight Centennial Federal Advisory Board was created to offer advice and counsel to the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission.

In retrospect, the "Centennial of Flight: Born of Dreams Inspired by Freedom" commemoration was a tremendous success, largely because of the leadership role the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission played and the cooperation that was shown among all of the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission Partners. The results of the campaign could not have been achieved by any one organization alone instead, the commemoration was reliant upon the hard work and dedication of groups and individuals across the country and around the world.

In working together, the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission and its Partners not only met, but exceeded, the stated goals. Highlights of the ways in which these goals were met include:

The U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission harmonized and enhanced centennial celebration efforts. The U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission increased public understanding of the Wright brothers' achievements as a triumph of American ingenuity, inventiveness and diligence in developing new technologies that help define the American century. This was done in a number of ways. Engage the interest of the American public and the world in the 100 year history of flight. The Commission's activity was not contained to the United States. A large number of countries throughout the world participated in the Centennial of Flight commemoration. Countries that contacted the Commission to share information about their events or request information about events taking place in the United States included: Canada; Abbotsford, B.C.; Argentina; Singapore; Israel; Portugal; Bulgaria; Sweden; Australia; Alexandria, Egypt; Turkey; Indonesia; Vienna, Austria; Republic of Singapore; Hong Kong; Ireland; Puerto Rico; Sri Lanka; Brussels, Belgium; Holland; El Salvador; Mexico; Britain; Korea; Argentina; Norway; China; South Wales; United Arab Emirates; Switzerland; Italy; Finland; Luxembourg; Slovenia; Taiwan; Ukraine; the Netherlands; Japan; Spain; New Zealand; Germany; France; South Africa; India; Russia; Slovenia; Costa Rica and Brazil.

In addition, the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission was able to work with its Partners to request Presidential appearances at centennial events. President George W. Bush appeared at both Inventing Flight in Dayton in July and the First Flight Centennial Celebration in North Carolina in December, and delivered powerful speeches honoring the Wright brothers and their achievements. Several other senior appointed and elected officials, as well as high-ranking senior military leaders, participated in the commemoration throughout the course of the year.

The work of the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission could not have been completed without the assistance of the First Flight Centennial Federal Advisory Board. Comprised of 19 members and chaired by Dr. Tom Crouch, senior curator of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the Advisory Board was instrumental in formulating recommendations on how to best promote national awareness of the centennial commemoration and the achievements of the Wright brothers; increasing the visibility of centennial activities; and identifying ways in which individuals and organizations could be encouraged to participate in the commemoration.

Most importantly, the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission and the Advisory Board served as a resource for all Centennial Partners, providing counsel on a range of issues and bringing everyone together under a national umbrella. Its leadership role was essential in proving to the media and the public that this was not just a regional event, but a national commemoration worthy of celebrating, for both the amazing achievements that have taken place over the last century, as well as those yet to come.

The U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission's legacy extends far beyond the educational information that it created and shared with the world. The U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission, its Partners and the communities, museums, schools and organizations around the world who participated in the commemoration generated energy and enthusiasm in the next generation of innovators and inventors. It is this energy that will propel us into the next century of flight, and the many milestones that are yet to come as aviation and aerospace pioneers continue to explore and discover what 100 years ago was unthinkable.

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