Wright Patterson AFB Retirement & Farewell Gifts

If you are seeking a unique retirement gift or farewell gift, consider offering artwork that celebrates the local area.

What I've offered here is a list of ideas.  The below images are links to individual prints or portfolios dedicated to a subject which hold more gifit ideas.

Having served in the US Air Force for 24 years, we’re familiar with making friends and then sending them off to their next adventure.  One of the challenges for us entailed finding the right PCS gift for the upcoming farewell gathering.  Plaques are nice but they tend to accumulate in a worn box adorned with different colored moving stickers….right?

Huffman Prairie serves as the epicenter of aviation. Following their 17 Dec 1903 demonstration, the Wright Bros set up operations in this field conducting 150 flights in 1904-1905 which refined the mastery of flight. Today the prairie resides on Wright-Patterson AFB which is home to the 445th Airlift Wing. On this evening, the wing’s C-17s take to the evening skies as a colorful sunset burst over the Miami Valley.

“Huffman Prairie Twilight” is my best-selling print!  When people pass by my art fair tent, invariably, this print draws them in and starts a conversation.  I had a retiree from the Air Force Research Labs pass through my home a couple months ago.  He was holiday shopping for a specific nature print for his wife and recalled seeing my work in a local gallery.  As he started to leave, he saw a familiar print in the adjacent room.  His team had selected “Huffman Prairie Twilight” as their retirement gift to him.  Until that coincidental moment, he was unaware I was the photographer, but the experience led to another great conversation.

Huffman Prairie serves as the epicenter for the discovery of aviation. Following their 17 Dec 1903 demonstration, the Wright Brothers set up research in this field conducting 150 flights in 1904-1905 which refined the mastery of flight. Today we call this former pasture the Huffman Prairie Flying Field and a National Historic Landmark. Although the prairie resides on Wright-Patterson AFB, Dayton, Ohio it is preserved by the National Park Service in partnership with the Aviation Trail Inc. who promotes Dayton’s Aviation Heritage. In this image, late afternoon thunderstorms began dissipating allowing the day’s last rays to paint this historic land in warm golden colors.

“Golden Hour Over Huffman Prairie No. 2 and No. 6” represents two more popular prints.  One version of this print is 8’ wide in the lobby of the Kettering Cancer Center.  Also a couple months ago, I had two friends inquire about the various places my artwork resides.  They shared who they were sitting in the waiting room and pondered who this large print emulated my style.

The Wright Memorial Chapter of the Air Force Association at Wright-Patterson AFB celebrates Dayton’s favorite sons by commissioning a stainless-steel sculpture of the 1909 Wright Flyer. A bronze statue of Wilbur Wright sits upright at the Flyer’s controls as a second statue of Orville stands to the right of the aircraft. Larry Godwin, the artist from Brundidge AL, presented the “Wright Flyer Memorial” on 2 Aug 2003, which was 94 years to the day after the original 1909 was accepted as the first military airplane. This sculpture which resides at WPAFB’s Gate 1B and Springfield St on this perfect day, appears to have just taken flight into a blue azure sky filled with a few cumulus clouds.

“Fair Day Over Wright Flyer Sculpture No. 1” is another popular print.  There are four stainless steel sculptures of early Wright Brothers airplanes, each representing a different model of the Wright Flyer.  This 1909 Wright Flyer greets visitors who pass through Gate 1B on their way to AFRL or the SPOs at the bottom of the hill.

A mid-spring dry spell over the Miami Valley allowed the Great Miami River to gently pass under the city lights of Dayton Ohio’s skyline. The calm waters formed a glassy surface which not only reflects RiverScape MetroPark but also the office windows catching the last warm colors of this early twilight scene.
The glassy smooth Great Miami River perfectly reflects the office buildings forming the Dayton Skyline, which in turn reflects the warm and colorful sunset which took to the skies over the Miami Valley. The five-side pavilion residing on the edge of the Great Miami River represents the five rivers which flow through the Dayton area. The structure also represents the spot where the first Daytonians, Samuel Thompson and Benjamin Van Cleve came ashore on 1 Apr 1796. A pavilion inscription shares the first person to set foot on shore was Catherin Van Cleve Thompson, great-great-grandmother of the Wright Brothers.
This colorful sunset over the Dayton skyline occurred after one of 2019’s bomb cyclones. The associated cold front passage occurred at sunset, where its cold, clear air drove away thick clouds. The clear air to the west allowed the setting sun to paint the underside of the exiting clouds in warm colors as the front’s winds gave the Great Miami River an interesting foreground texture.
This stunning sunset took to the skies over the Miami Valley. The sunset started with calm winds and dull gray skies before yielding to a hint of red on the western horizon. Within five minutes the entire sky ignited as if were a scene from Ron Howard’s movie, Backdraft. In this scene, the fiery red clouds complement the deepening blue skies hanging over the Dayton Skyline. Joining the crescendo, the glassy Great Miami River reflected the spectacle above.
This scene took place on 3 May 2020 where in moments before, the skies were grey, and winds...blustery which drove me to ponder the wisdom of standing in the rain with my digital camera. When I started this 86-image panoramic sequence, the sun found a break in clouds at the last possible moment. Realizing I seconds left, I quickly pointed my camera into the sun. During this bustle, the rainbow unknowingly formed behind me. Perhaps it was the steady rain and the constant wiping of my lens, but I was engrossed in the technique. With my last planned shot I stepped back from the camera and finally noted the still off-camera rainbow, so I continued the panoramic sweep. Despite building a big picture, I nearly missed an even larger one.

Where Did the Member and Spouse Like to Spend Their Weekends?

Cox Arboretum and Gardens MetroPark is one of many parks in Dayton’s Five Rivers MetroParks system. James M. Cox and his family established the park in 1962 through the donation of their land. Fifteen years ago, the James M. Cox Jr. Arboretum Foundation hired Francois Goffinet, an amazing landscape designer from Belgium, to establish park’s master plan. Today the park hosts many features to include the Water Garden and Monet Bridge as captured in this scene. In this image, an impressive sunset illuminated the clouds creating a spectacle throughout the Miami Valley.
These life-size Wilbur and Orville Wright sculptures stand at Deeds Point and the confluence of the Mad River and Great Miami River. They were erected in 2003 as part of "Inventing Flight: The Centennial Celebration" which was a month-long event honoring the centennial of the Wright Brother's first flight. The work depicts the brothers discussing their wing warping technique using a bicycle innertube box. On this autumn day, the evening sun paints the Wright Brothers sculptures in golden light.
As a believer in enjoying the outdoors, we owe John H. Patterson for this Dayton Gem when he donated 297 acres to form Hills and Dales in 1907. In designing the park, he hired famous landscape architects, the Olmstead Brothers. In 1993, the Five Rivers MetroPark leased 63 of the acres to form Hills and Dales MetroPark. In keeping with Patterson’s vision, park designers erected this Adirondack-style shelter which overlooks Dogwood Pond in Kettering Ohio. In this summer image, the sun peaks through the surrounding wood line warmly illuminating the peaceful paths around Dogwood Pond.
This spectacular autumn sunrise took place at Sugarcreek MetroPark, near Bellbrook Ohio. Of the many park’s features, one entails the Osage Orange Tunnel. In the 1800s, farmers planted rows of these Osage Orange (Hedge Apple) trees creating a natural fence line. Today, this tree line forms a delightful tunnel giving park visitors a visual treat.
Dayton hosts many wonders including the Fountain of Lights which is reportedly one of the world’s largest fountains. The Five Rivers MetroParks operates the fountains during the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day. At the close of the season and with storm clouds clearing the Miami Valley skies, I arrived at the confluence of the Mad River and Great Miami River for one of the year’s last sunset displays. The varying cloud heights refracted the day’s last rays in their own unique manner, thus giving the sky added depth as if to strike serendipitous harmony with the warmly backlit fountain sprays.
This peaceful scene arises from the English Garden at Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark, Dayton, Ohio. It features a trickling fountain surrounded by flower beds and pots offering a display of color in the evening light. This scene is also a testament to Dayton’s pride and resilience…locally we call it Dayton Strong! Several weeks prior to capturing this image, an EF-4 tornado passed through this park. Thanks to hundreds of Miami Valley volunteers, like this park and the city continues to bounce back.

Dayton Suburbs Communities

Where did the Member and Spouse Call Home?

Outside the Washington-Centerville library lies this sculpture called, “The Record”. Created by Michael Frasca in 1997, this twenty-two-foot stack of ceramic books represents the knowledge contained in the library and the history of those who created this community.
In the midst of Kettering Civic Commons Park resides an untitled rock sculpture next to the Lincoln Park Pond. Sculptured by in 2002 by Keizo Ushio, his work depicts two intertwining ribbons of stone which incorporates the symbol of love. In this summer sunrise scene, the trees filter the sun’s rays which gently paint the piece under calm but interesting skies. Realizing the healing power of art in healthcare, this summer, Kettering Health Network hung an 8-foot canvas print of this scene in the foyer of their Kettering Cancer Center.
Carriage Hill MetroPark in Huber Heights Ohio serves as a living history farm depicting life in the 1880s. The historical farm offers many features including this bank barn. The foundation was built in 1878 for Henry Arnold. The lower level contains stalls and pens for animals while the top contains feed bins. On this fall day, the horses graze in the pasture under golden morning light and blue September skies.
A restored barn in Beavercreek, Ohio lies within Phillips Park. The park is run by Greene County Parks and Trails. The Phillips Park Barn features classic red paint with a traditional white silo. On this spring morning, the adjacent pond perfectly reflects this nostalgic Ohio farm scene.
Within Sugarcreek Township and south of Bellbrook, Ohio, resides a local family who graciously opens their five-generation farm every year called the Lucas Brothers Fall Fest.  It’s the classic Ohio experience involving fields of pumpkins, hayrides, a corn maze, and this amazing field of sunflowers.  In this blue-hour scene, the sunflowers form a complementary color contrast with the blue skies of the oncoming twilight.
One of the Miami Valley’s favored parks is Glen Helen Nature Preserve in Yellow Springs Ohio. A 100 years ago, Hugh Taylor Birch donated land in his daughter’s name, Helen. Today, visitors enjoy 15 miles of trails, one of which leads hikers by this magical spot. On this day, the park’s Sugar Maple trees took on their golden hues as the fall sun magnified their luminance as they dropped to the ground around The Yellow Springs.

Dayton-area Universities


The University of Dayton’s Chapel of the Immaculate Conception served as a hub for the Marianist college for 150 years. In 2015, the university completed a $12 million dollar, privately-funded, renovation which will allow future students to celebrate their faith in a place of beauty for years to come. On this Spring Day, the red and yellow tulips served as complimentary colors to the unusually clear blue skies over the Miami Valley.
Cedarville University remains a small independent Baptist school in southwest Ohio. Founded in 1887 it keeps the grounds in immaculate condition between various sculptures and architectural features on campus. In this summer image, blue skies and cumulus clouds hang over the campus gardens, fountains, and walkways.
Turning Points is a 26 feet wide aluminum sculpture created by David Black. From its placement in University Hall Plaza in 1998, the whimsical sculpture is the most photographed item on campus. Students also refer to the work as BART, for Big Artsy Red Thing, and campus tours often share it represents the various changing paths a student encounter in their college careers. On this spring day, the blue azure skies contrasted nicely with the bright red sculpture.
Built in 1883, Wittenberg University’s Recitation Hall in Springfield, Ohio, is the second oldest building on campus. Outgrowing its original building, Myers Halls, the college attempted to build its second hall, but had to stop mid-construction as it ran out of funds. Thanks to donations from Springfield residents, Recitation Hall was completed a few months later, ensuring its continued prosperity. The building houses the university administration offices to include the president’s office. Today, the students nickname the building “Reci” which features a Victorian structure using both Romanesque and High Gothic architectural elements.
Kettering College lies in the suburbs of Dayton Ohio on land once owned by the Eugene and Virginia Kettering. The school sits next to Kettering Medical Center’s main campus and trains several hundred student every year since 1967. On this spring day, the tulips were blooming and trees beginning their annual leaf out giving the whole area a sense of freshness and hope.
Central State University located in Wilberforce, Ohio is loaded with American history. The school serves as a historically black university as it draws its roots from Wilberforce University. In short, as the Normal and Industrial Department of Wilberforce University expanded from a two-year program to a four-year program, it became a separate legal entity from its parent, thereby forming Central State University. When the Xenia tornado of 1974 also tore through the university it destroyed several buildings including the Galloway Tower. During the university’s Centennial celebration, school leaders dedicated the replacement tower, now housing the alumni office to Walter G. Sellers, a 1951 graduate and eventual International President of the Kiwanis Club.