Tuesday, May 08, 2001

Wright brothers' bash may be short

Money uncertain for 100th anniversary

The Associated Press

        DAYTON, Ohio — The growing number of groups that want to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wright brothers' first flight has raised questions about whether there will be enough money to go around.

        Organizers in Orville and Wilbur Wright's hometown of Dayton are trying to raise $10 million to $15 million for an 18-day celebration in July 2003.

        The First Flight Centennial Foundation in North Carolina wants $3 million to $5 million to pay for programs and build a pavilion at the North Carolina site where the Wrights made their historic first flight in 1903.

        “It's difficult because it puts them in a kind of competition,” said Sherry Foster, executive director of the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission. “It was one thing when everyone was anxious to make contributions when their stocks were doing great. I think corporate sponsors cannot be so generous as they've been in the past.”

        The National Air and Space Museum in Washington is shopping around for possible donors for a special exhibit, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics is looking for sponsors for a series of programs on the evolution of flight.

        The Aerospace Industries Association estimates that aerospace companies have been approached with $150 million to $200 million in requests for various centennial programs, said spokeswoman Alexis Allen. She said the requests range from air shows and conventions to a Hollywood group seeking money for a screenplay.

        “You name it, they've asked,” said Hugh Burns, spokesman for Lockheed Martin. “And we have not even heard yet from the scores of people doing special books and photo displays.”


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