On August 19, Americans celebrate National Aviation Day. It’s a great day to learn more about airplanes and aviation.
In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt first proclaimed that August 19 would be National Aviation Day.
Why August 19? Because that’s Orville Wright’s birthday. Orville, along with his brother Wilbur, were the legendary Wright brothers. They flew the first powered and controlled flight in a heavier-than-air flying machine in Kitty Hawk, N.C., in 1903. Before that, people had only flown in gliders and balloons. The flight lasted 12 seconds and travelled 120 feet.
So how will you celebrate National Aviation Day? Here are some suggestions from the folks at NASA:
Spread your wings
Have someone take a picture of you and your friends or loved ones stretching out your arms like the wings of an airplane.
Post your photo to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, or any other social media. Be sure and tag it with #SpreadYourWings or #NationalAviationDay.
Visit your local science museum or air museum and learn more about airplanes and aviation
Watch an aviation-themed movie
There’s no shortage of classic aviation-themed movies available to watch including Jimmy Stewart’s “The Spirit of St. Louis,” Disney’s “Planes,” the documentary “One Six Right: The Romance of Flying,” “Amelia,” a look at the life of legendary American pilot Amelia Earhart, and the National Geographic IMAX spectacle “Living in the Age of Airplanes.”
Take an introductory flight lesson
There is a wonderful sense of freedom in flying, not to mention the incredible views and the personal sense of accomplishment that comes from mastering the skills required to fly. Being a pilot is not for everyone – but you won’t know unless you try! See the story about the Young Eagles program on page 46 to learn how to start!
And if you want a taste of flight without leaving the ground, computer desktop flight simulators such as Microsoft Flight Simulator X or X-Plane 10 are popular choices and can get you into the virtual sky in short order.
Build an airplane
Why not? It doesn’t have to be big enough to actually fly in. Putting together a smaller plastic model kit of one of the world’s most historic aircraft can be just as rewarding and just as educational, especially for if you are thinking about a career as an engineer or aerospace technician. In fact, many astronauts will tell you their love of aviation and space began with putting models together as a child.
Another idea: Grab some LEGO bricks and build the airplane of your dreams. Or make it easy on yourself, fold a paper airplane and shoot it across the room (see the instructions on page 30). Sometimes simple works best.
Visit your local library
Aviation-themed books, whether fact or fiction, are all over the shelves of your local library – literally. Look for books on aviation history, books on how to design an airplane, picture books about airplanes and air travel. Ask your librarian for help!