National Aviation Day
When is National Aviation Day?
National Aviation Day has been celebrated every year on August 19th since its enactment in 1939. The date was chosen to coincide with the birthday of aviation pioneer Orville Wright. Not only does this holiday represent the work done by Wright and his brother Wilbur, but it’s an all-encompassing holiday for every aspect of aviation. Americans take the time to celebrate the achievements made possible through the history of aircraft and passenger flights.
On December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers made aviation history. Not only did they successfully fly an aircraft, but this was the first time that controllers were used to help navigate the plane. The airplane was in flight for a total of 12 seconds. While the plane traveled only 120 feet, this is the first flight completed with the revolutionary controllers.
These advances in aircraft technology quickly paved the way for other pioneers of the era looking to take to the skies, such as Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh. Controlled aircraft made commercial flights between set destinations possible, and the advances also forever changed the way the military operates.
The idea for National Aviation Day was officially ordered by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1939. He chose August 19th because it was the same day as Orville Wright’s birthday. The aviation pioneer lived to see the date, as well as nine years beyond that. Roosevelt died in office April 1945.
At first, the date for National Aviation Day was controversial among some groups because the Wright brothers weren’t technically the first ones to experiment with airplanes. However, the brothers are credited with being the first to invent fixed flight wings that led to the creation of commercial and military aircraft. Despite the controversy, there’s no doubt that aviation wouldn’t be the same without the contributions of Orville and Wilbur Wright. The lives of the two brothers are celebrated on a different holiday on December 17th called Wright Brothers Day.
National Aviation Day is primarily a day for reflection and celebration of the achievements in aviation, which is now considered a necessity in the global economy. It’s not a public holiday, so all government institutions stay open if the holiday falls on a weekday. If school is in session, teachers often prepare special lessons centered on the many pioneers in flight science and technology. Field trips to flight museums may also be in order on this day.
Some communities take the celebrations a step further by holding flight events. Others still may showcase old airplanes for the public to appreciate. The aviation industry and the Air Force are also particularly active in the holiday. Enthusiasts may display pictures of aircraft in recognition of National Aviation Day. In addition, the President issues an order for government buildings to wave the American flag every August 19th.
The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, is an understandably popular spot on this holiday. Many residents in the surrounding area as well as tourists visit the memorial on August 19th to pay tribute to the Wright brothers and their contributions to aviation.
Image Credit: SimHQ member Archatuthis
P-38 Lightning Sculpture