National Aviation Day is August 19th, and while it doesn’t receive the fanfare of holidays like Halloween and Easter, United States history is packed with sensational stories and individuals that make the aeronautical industry what it is today.
History of National Aviation Day
To learn more about how National Aviation Day came to be, we’ll need to travel back to 1939. Early that year, president Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted to adequately commemorate the invention of the airplane, an amazing tool that was playing a major role in winning WWII.
Ultimately, the day was chosen to coincide with inventor Orville Wright’s birthday, or August 19th. If you’re a history buff, then you probably remember that Orville Wright was responsible for piloting the “Wright Flyer” when it launched in 1903.
Why Aviation Matters
We don’t think about it often, but flight has changed our lives in a variety of ways:
- First, getting from point A to point B is easier than ever before. A voyage that used to take months or even years by sea, can now be completed in hours.
- Likewise, stores and merchants can now stock their shelves with items from all over the world, be it Asian noodle bowls or environmentally-friendly safe cleaners.
- Flight has also kept technology marching forward.
- Engineers are studying new ways to burn fuel more efficiently, and architects and designers are hoping to increase cargo loads on cross-country flights.
- That’s not all though, better emergency response technology and even monitoring devices have been created thanks to research in the field.
Fun Activities to Celebrate
Unfortunately, Aviation Day isn’t a federal holiday, which means you’ll probably be stuck at work. That doesn’t mean you’re stuck feeling sad for yourself. If you have a few hours to spare, or can afford to take some time off, there are plenty of simple, yet affordable activities worth participating in.
Visit a Museum
If you have access to a local aviation museum, now is the time for a visit. Learn about the science behind flight and how various models and craft designs have contributed to society in a number of ways, including quicker deliveries, better fuel efficiency, and more accurate radar.
Make Paper Airplanes
Using safe cleaners, wipe down your kitchen counter or dining room table. Choose some lightweight paper (printer paper will do just fine) and then go about folding your miniature aircraft. Once you’re finished, take turns seeing who can fly their paper airplane the farthest. Talk about how different folds lead to different flight path trajectories. Get creative and have fun!
Play “I Spy”
Another simple aviation-themed activity is playing “I Spy.” Grab the safe cleaners, and spray down the windows in your home and also the ones on your car. While you’re out running errands or playing outside, challenge your kids to keep an eye out for any aircraft flying overhead. Helicopters, airplanes, even hang-gliders count. The sky is surprisingly active all day long.
Fly a Kite
Kites are a great way to teach your kids about flight and aerodynamics. Pick up a cheap one at Walmart or another big box store and then head to the park. Take a moment to notice whether or not the wind is blowing. Discuss how changes in the wind’s direction and velocity affect the flight of your kite. These same challenges are things that pilots encounter on a regular basis. Read Meteor Watch Day: Shooting Stars.
Do the Airplane Dance
This activity is especially fun for little ones. Stretch both arms out at your sides, and make motor noises by buzzing your lips together. Fly all around your home or backyard, making sure to avoid areas that might have chemicals or other toxic items. Cabinet and pantry areas are okay, as long as they’ve been tidied up with safe cleaners.
Whatever you end up doing for Aviation Day this year, make it one to remember. If it weren’t for airplanes and the gift of flight, the world would look like an entirely different place.