OHIO VALLEY — Aug. 19 is National Aviation Day. Designated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939, the date is the birthday of Orville Wright, one of the legendary Wright Brothers who were the inventors of the airplane.
Since the Wright Brothers were from Dayton, the date should have special significance to Ohioans.
Orville was still living when FDR proclaimed the holiday. It had been 36 years since their historic flight in 1903 when the two did something most thought couldn’t be done. As long as humans could remember, there had been attempts at flying.
Flying seemed elusive, something that perhaps would never be accomplished. Many said “man” was not meant to fly.
So Dec. 17, 1903, is perhaps a day more significant than any other in history. Although the telegraph and telephone connect the world through communication, aviation connected the world physically, and faster than any other method of travel.
When FDR brought aviation into the national conscience with the special day, citizens were encouraged to observe the day with activities promoting interest in aviation. Federal buildings and installations were to fly the U.S. flag in honor of the holiday.
So General Aviation News asks,” How will you be a good citizen and observe the day as indicated by the President?”
A suggestion from NASA is to “spread your wings” by having your picture taken stretching out your arms like the wings of an airplane and posting your photo to social media. Tag it with #SpreadYourWings or #NationalAviationDay and your photo could be selected and highlighted at NASA.gov/aeronautics. Extra points will be given if hands are used to make winglets, one of NASA’s contributions to aviation. (The invention of winglets was important as they reduce drag and in their nearly 15 years of use, have saved fuel and reduced aircraft noise. )
Another way to celebrate the holiday is by visiting a science museum or NASA visitor center. The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force and the Dayton Air Show held annually in July can be found right here in Ohio. Some of NASA’s centers are Langley Research Center in Va., Glenn Research Center in Lewis Field, Ohio, Ames Research Center and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., to name a few. The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, located on the Mall in Washington, D.C., is a place where many people visit to learn about the history of flight.
Classic aviation-themed movies including Jimmy Stewart’s “The Spirit of St. Louis,” Disney’s “Planes,” and the recent National Geographic IMAX spectacle “Living in the Age of Airplanes” can be enjoyed by the entire family.
An introductory flight lesson may be something that appeals to some as well. Flight schools are found at most general aviation airports and many offer an introductory flight lesson. For those less enthusiastic about leaving the ground, computer desktop flight simulators are popular choices for virtual flying.
Building a model of a historic aircraft can be fun and educational. It is a good opportunity to learn the history of the plane and a variety of styles can be found at hobby stores. LEGO bricks can be used to build your own design or make a paper airplane and see how far it can fly.
Try to remember your first flight or the first time you saw an airplane. Ask yourself what kind of airplane it was and if you were traveling, where were you going. Was it exciting, thrilling or did you have some interpretation?
And don’t forget to check out the library for aviation-themed books. There are plenty to choose from in all reading levels and genres.
Next time you see an airplane, remember it has been just over 100 year since flying became a reality.
Contact Lorna Hart at 740-992-2155 Ext. 2551
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