The Fort Worth Aviation Museum celebrated National Aviation Day and welcomed guests to sit in cockpits, learn the history and importance of aerospace in Fort Worth.

The festival lands on aerospace pioneer Orville Wright’s birthday.

Fort Worth Aviation Museum Executive Director Jim Hodgson emphasized Fort Worth’s presence in aerospace nationwide.

“We’ve made 70,000 airplanes here since the 1940s. If you go back to the day of the first flight, which was on Jan. 12, 1911, that’s two airplanes a day every day, for 110 years,” Hodgson said.

More than 600 aerospace-related companies work out of Fort Worth making aerospace one of the leading industries in the city.

The Fort Worth Aviation Museum acquired its first aircraft, the OV-10 Bronco, in 1997. Since then, the museum has collected 33 aircraft, Hodgson said.

“Since the 40s, this is all aviation here and that’s what has made the town grow,” Hodgson said. “And there have been lots of firsts here.”

Leading aerospace companies, like Lockheed Martin and Bell Textron Inc., are based in Fort Worth.

Lockheed Martin is credited with creating the F-35 fighter jet in 2006. Since then, the jet has produced $65 billion per year and created nearly 300,000 jobs in the aerospace industry.

Hodgson referenced Bessie Coleman, the first Black female to earn an international pilot’s license in the world, and Alan Bean, a Paschal High School graduate and a pilot on the Apollo 12 mission, the second moon landing, in November 1969.

“We try our hardest to show people that we’re right next to the Stockyards and we’re not diminishing how the Stockyards and the Wild West played a role, but we’re very aviation heavy,” said Angela Bennet-Engele, the president of the OV-10 Bronco Association. “We’d really like to get people out here and show them that aviation is as much a part of DFW.”

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. Contact him by email or via Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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Cristian ArguetaSoto

Cristian ArguetaSoto is the community engagement journalist at the Fort Worth Report. He can be reached at cristian.arguetasoto@fortworthreport.org or (817) 317-6991.