In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed August 19th, the birthday of Orville Wright, the only living Wright brother at the time, to be National Aviation Day. In addition to honoring Orville and his late older brother Wilbur for their accomplishments in engineering the first airplane and successful powered flight, National Aviation Day also serves as a platform to inspire others to join the aviation community. It’s an inclusive day that celebrates all things aviation, not just airplanes and pilots but also our scientists and engineers.
There are many ways to observe National Aviation Day. Brushing up on some aviation history is a good way to start. The stealth fighter jets we praise today are a far cry from the experimental aircraft aviation pioneers tested at the start of the 20th century. It’s fun to marvel at the old-fashioned designs of experimental aircraft from 100 years ago with modern eyes.
Aviation as an industry has totally transformed. In 1903, we were struggling to get heavier-than-air machines off the ground. Sixty-six years later, in 1969, we put astronauts in space and on the moon. It can be hard to grasp why that is such a big deal, so let’s put it in perspective: In one person’s lifetime, flying machines began as novel but impractical inventions, then two world wars pushed aviation through a somewhat expedited puberty, and towards the tail end of life, a person would have seen man fly not only over land and sea but out of this world.
Many museums honor National Aviation Day with special exhibits and activities. In addition to airplane displays and fun exhibits that highlight the important milestones in aviation history, museums will often host events for children of all ages with activities to participate in. A popular choice among the younger kids is designing and coloring their own paper airplanes for a distance-flight competition with their friends. Flying and assembling foam gliders or small plastic models are also fun, hands-on projects.
For middle or high school students, aviation is a great way to introduce them to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts that are driving modern industry forward. Gleim works with a number of schools, offering our STEM resources to help educators teach aviation programs. Aviation programs are an exciting way to encourage students to do well in class while also setting them on a pathway to a successful career in high demand. Download our Learn to Fly e-book to get a plain-English explanation of what it takes to become a pilot, and discover other aviation career opportunities. If you already have an audience, contact us to request copies of the Learn to Fly booklet to share with interested students.
Of course, everyone’s favorite way to celebrate National Aviation Day is by taking flight, and you don’t have to go on an expensive vacation just to ride in an airplane. Look for Aviation Day events at your local airport if you’re interested in flying for a career or as a hobby. Check in with the local chapters of aviation organizations to see if they’re hosting any events. Visit the flight school(s) in your area to see if they’re offering deals on discovery flights! If you’re already a pilot, offer a ride to your friends and family, especially those who have never flown before.
Consider where we would be if it weren’t for the advancements in technology that came along with the pursuit of flight. Would you be willing to navigate by star instead of using a GPS? Are you able to give up your coveted two-day shipping? Do you have the time to take a boat to your next overseas vacation or meeting?
Ultimately, National Aviation Day is about sharing the joy and wonder of aviation with our friends and family. Tell someone about the holiday and reflect with them on the ways aviation has affected your lives. Our fascination with flight has given us many great successes and has changed the way society functions for the better. The common saying is that “aviation shrunk the world.” We hope that you find fun ways to celebrate how aviation has brought us all closer together.
Written by Austin Scott, Marketing Assistant for Gleim Aviation
About Gleim Aviation
Since 1980, the Gleim Aviation team of pilots, instructors, writers, designers, and programmers has helped aviators pass millions of FAA knowledge and practical tests using the unique Gleim Knowledge Transfer System. Gleim is an environmentally-friendly company headquartered in Gainesville, FL.