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.
- To harmonize and enhance all efforts to celebrate and commemorate the centennial of powered flight.
- To increase 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.
- To engage the interest of the American public and the world in the 100 year history of flight.
In retrospect, the "Centennial of Flight: Born of Dreams Ð 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 Ð 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.
- A partnership program was created to allow organizations to become a part of the larger, national celebration. This also enabled Partners to leverage each other's assets and made events like The Centennial of Flight at Rockefeller Center successful. The event would not have been as strong without the participation of several Partners, including the U.S. Air Force, NASA and the FAA.
- A master calendar was developed, updated and maintained on the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission Web site to showcase the flight-themed activities and events taking place around the world.
- The U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission leveraged existing relationships to secure speakers and participants in Partner events. For example, the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission formed a relationship with actor John Travolta through the national kick off, and worked with Partners including the AIAA, Dayton and North Carolina to secure his participation in additional events. Involvement from celebrities such as John Travolta led to higher-profile events and increased recognition among the public. In addition, well known aviation icons and Advisory Board members such as Dr. Neil Armstrong, Dr. Tom Crouch and Patty Wagstaff were active participants in many centennial events.
Engage the interest of the American public and the world in the 100 year history of flight.
- The creation, maintenance and continual updating of the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission Web site, including short essays, historical information about the Wright brothers and other aviators, educational Web-based games, movies and more. Web site hits for December 2003 totaled 3.66 million for the month.
- The distribution of educational material. The U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission and its Partners created and distributed educational brochures, posters, bookmarks and more to schools, libraries, home schools and museums. More than 500,000 32-page brochures chronicling the history of flight were distributed in airline seatbacks, and an educational toolkit was distributed to more than 140,000 educators. The U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission traveling exhibit visited 45 locations in 2003.
- The U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission, in partnership and cooperation with NASA, the U.S. Air Force and the FAA, produced, printed and distributed a significant amount of quality educational and informational resources. Nine different products, including posters, decals, bookmarks and brochures were produced. The U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission printed 717,575 products, NASA printed 1,703,235 products, the U.S. Air Force printed 1,000,000 products and the FAA printed 63,825 products, for a grand total of 3,484,635 printed educational products. These figures do not include the educational materials produced by other Centennial Partners and event planners Ð only those centennial products developed by the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission and NASA.
- Educational media relations efforts exposed more than 12 million students to the story of flight through publications such as The Mini Page, Time for Kids and Channel One.
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.
- More than 994 different centennial events were entered on the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission calendar.
- From December 2002-December 2003, centennial stories created more than 1.4 billion impressions. More than 350 articles ran in the top 100 print publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and USA Today. More than 110 segments ran on national network television.
- More than 22 million people attended 14 different Centennial Partner events. Hundreds of thousands of additional people participated in grassroots community events and programs throughout the county.
- The Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, a Centennial Partner, experienced a 31 percent increase in attendance during the Centennial year, while all other museums on the National Mall experienced a decrease in attendance.
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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