August 19th marks the yearly celebration in the United States honoring the amazing advancements in flight. Known as National Aviation Day, it was first established by FDR in 1939 to celebrate the development and advancement of aviation. Why then, August 19th? Well that’s the birthday of the one and only Orville Wright!
What’s even more interesting is that Orville was still alive in 1939, and lived for another nine years after this first celebration. The proclamation itself gives the current President the ability to proclaim August 19th as the official National Aviation Day every year, and if you ask me, it’s deserving of the designation every single year. Just think about how significant air travel has been to our world in the last one hundred years.
So as we celebrate National Aviation Day, below are biggest milestones in the history of aviation:
Hot Air Balloon: No, it wasn’t in the film Wizard of Oz, the first balloon took off in France in 1783 after two brothers experimented with paper bags and hot air.
The First Men in the Air: Like previously mentions, Orville & Wilbur Wright took off from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in the first man powered airplane. Total flight time: twelve seconds.
First Commercial Flight: Passengers boarded a flight from St. Petersburg to Tampa, Florida that lasted about 20 minutes total- a far quicker journey at the time than traveling via train or vehicle in 1914.
First Man in Space: While the United States dominated space exploration for more than forty years, it was the Russians who made it first into space. Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space on April 12, 1961, orbiting the globe for 108 minutes aboard the Soviet Vostok 1.
Apollo 11- One Small Step for Man: July 20, 1969 was a date that will forever be bolded on any world history timeline. Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin were the first humans to step foot onto the lunar surface and forever cemented themselves as true pioneers. And to just make sure everyone knows, there are only American flags on the moon!
The Space Shuttle: The space shuttle Columbia made its inaugural flight on April 12, 1981 and ushered in a new age of space travel. Five more shuttles were added to the NASA fleet over the course of thirty- plus years and brought over eight HUNDRED astronauts into space.
So in order to really celebrate all of these achievements, the New England Air Museum is holding a great event on, you guessed it, August 19th to celebrate National Aviation Day! This will be a great event to bring the kids to, as their will be a plethora of activities that include exploring the many aircraft on site, constructing paper airplanes, and even visiting with a re-enactor portraying Orville Wright himself!
Hope to see you there!