August 19th is just another day. It rolls around every year and most people just go about their daily routine. But August 19th is a special day. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt set aside August 19th as National Aviation Day. I wonder if you knew that already. Also, August 19, 1871 is Orville Wright’s birthday. So, on this day we celebrate the man and how his accomplishments have changed out world.
There are many ways to celebrate National Aviation Day. You could visit a museum, buy a book on one of aviation’s pioneers, see an aviation movie, but I think the best way would be to go out the your local airport and arrange to take a flight around your town. That way, you can really experience aviation.
Many people think, probably because they were taught, that Wilbur and Orville Wright were simply bicycle shop owners who liked to tinker around and were fascinated with flight. Well, they were bicycle shop owners and that is how they financed their research. They were certainly fascinated with flight, but they were not tinkerers. They were serious and dedicated scientists, who spent many years studying and working before they were able to develop their system of flight. The brothers were nothing short of geniuses. When the computations they made with pencil and paper are put through today’s modern computers, they are found to be accurate to .0003.
On December 17, 1903, the weather was just what they wanted. They flipped a coin to see who would go first, Orville won. His first flight lasted 12 seconds, but it was the first time anyone had experienced controlled flight. Wilbur was at the controls for the final of four flights that historic day. That flight lasted 59 seconds and covered 852 feet! The brothers soared into history as the first to make “controlled and sustained flight in a power-driven, heavier than air craft.”
Man had dreamed of flight for centuries, probably since the first man looked up and saw a bird. In the late 1400s daVinci dreamed of flying. But, it was 1903 when it finally happened. My, how that event changed the world.
In World War I, airplanes began to be used. They hadn’t figured out how to fire a gun without hitting the propeller, so then first threw large rocks from the open cockpit planes, then hand grenades.
Once that war ended, the fliers wanted to keep flying. They started carrying mail, selling rides, anything to stay in the air. Development after development, and today we think nothing of getting on an airplane and flying anywhere in the world in comfort. We send astronauts in space and ships to other planets. But it all started with Wilbur and Orville on that sandy hillside in North Carolina.
Celebrate aviation, every day, but especially today, August 19th – National Aviation Day!