Magic within the Mead: A Starfield Tribute to the First Flight
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Magic within the Mead: A Starfield Tribute to the First Flight

Magic within the Mead: A Starfield Tribute to the First Flight
Posted 12/17/2017

Do you know about the magical connection to the Wright Brothers' first flight, depicted in the spectacular light display above the Mead Theatre?

Magic within the Mead: A Starfield Tribute to the First Flight

Today marks the 114th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' first flight, which took place on December 17, 1903.  That morning, the brothers became the first people to demonstrate sustained flight of a heavier-than-air machine under the complete control of the pilot.  But do you know about the magical connection to this historical event at The Schuster?

In November 1999, workers imploded the beloved Rike’s department store in downtown Dayton, making way for a new performing arts center.  The grand opening of the Benjamin & Marian Schuster Performing Arts Center in February 2003 drew tens of thousands, and the crowds have been flocking to the Schuster ever since.

Designed by internationally renowned architect Cesar Pelli (most famous for designing the world’s tallest building, the Petronas Towers in Kauala Lumpur, Malaysia), the Schuster Center's 13,000-square-foot glass Wintergarden from the corner of 2nd & Main is a sight to behold.  In an interview with the Dayton Daily News, Pelli called the Schuster Center “…an exclamation point for Dayton!”

The Magical Connection to the Wright Brothers' First Flight

But it's inside the 2,300 seat, state-of-the-art Mead Theatre where you'll experience the real magic, and that's before the show even begins.  Designed to inspire, all eyes are drawn up to the spectacular dome whose concentric circles spiral upward toward an amazing display of 780 fiber-optic lights, known as the "Starfield".

The Starfield depicts the night sky as it appeared in Dayton on the eve of the Wright Brothers’ first flight, December 16, 1903.  

From the ground floor of the theater to the tip of the Starfield is 93 feet.  The 40-foot diameter of the Starfield is the length of the wingspan of the Wright Flyer. And from the last row of the upper balcony to the center of the stage is 120 feet, approximately the distance the Wright Brothers flew on their first successful flight that day in Kitty Hawk, NC.

The next time you sit down in the Mead, block out the noise and imagine the scene.  Orville Wright piloted that first flight above the dunes of the Outer Banks for 12 whole seconds, before gently touching down on the soft sands ... of center stage.

Enjoy the show.

The Schuster Center is the home of the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dayton Opera Association. The Victoria Theatre Association and Dayton Ballet Association also present portions of their seasons at the Schuster Center.

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