100th anniversary of Wright Brothers' school honored with Dining Out
Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, Alabama Governor Bob Riley, Air University Commander Lt. Gen. Allen Peck, and Col. Jeff Dunn, LeMay Center vice commander participate in a Dining Out last week hosted by Air University and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce. The event commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the Wright Brothers' flying school, located at what is now Maxwell Air Force Base. (Air Force photo/Wendy Simonds)
100th anniversary of Wright brothers' school honored with Dining Out

by Carl Bergquist

10/22/2010 - Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala  -- 
Saying no state has played a more important role in aviation than Alabama, Gov. Bob Riley opened his remarks Oct. 15 to attendees of a Dining Out held by Air University and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce at Wynlakes Country Club.
"I can very easily contend that when it comes to aviation, no state has played a more important role in its development than Alabama, and I believe no state will play a more important role in its future. Our state has a rich and wonderful history when it comes to aviation, but I don't believe even many Alabamians know about it," the governor said. "We as a state and as communities can and should do a better job educating people about all the important things that happened here."

Governor Riley said a part of that history involves Orville and Wilbur Wright but also includes the Tuskegee Airmen, the Werner von Braun rocket team that came to Huntsville after World War II and Maxwell Air Force Base, Gunter Annex, the home of Air University -- the intellectual and leadership center of the Air Force.

"And I would be negligent if I didn't take this moment to salute all the men and women of the Air Force. Each and every day, they perform acts of noble service to our country and make us proud. It is always an honor to be in their presence," the governor said.

He went on to say that today, aviation has become one of the state's largest economic sectors, accounting for more than 140,000 direct and indirect jobs in Alabama. He said there are more than 300 aviation and aerospace companies in the state, three times the number the state had 20 years ago.

Governor Riley said while the Wright brothers brought their airplane and first civilian flying school to Montgomery in 1910, they also brought something else.

"They stirred the imaginations of Montgomeryians like never before," he said.

"Thousands came out to watch them fly, and because of the Wright brothers and the flying school they brought here, the people of this area began to see their town as the land of the future."

In addition to the governor's speech, remarks were made by Lt. Gen. Allen Peck, Air University commander, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange and the President of the Mess, Col. Jeff Dunn, vice commander of the LeMay Center. Also in attendance were former Air University commanders Gen. Stephen Lorenz, the current commander of Air Education and Training Command, and retired Lt. Gens. John Regni, Donald Lamontagne and Joseph Redden.

General Peck paid thanks to two other special guests, Dickie Ball and Theda Tankersley, grandchildren of Fred Samuel Ball. In 1910, Ball was president of the Commerce Club, precursor to the Chamber of Commerce. He's credited with bringing the Wright brothers to Montgomery.