Outside the office, tour guides here at Bowman Field (KLOU), presumably next door from Louisville Executive Aviation, one of the FBOs at the airport, or perhaps leaders from the local Civil Air Patrol, led a group of children around the tie-down area behind our building. Just after lunchtime today, they strolled through the line adjacent to one of the runways, looking at various aircraft on the field, mostly pistons, a couple Citations probably and a European trainer-fighter jet. The tour was fitting, as today is National Aviation Day.
In this post, we will pause and honor the history of flight, as well as recap how other groups are celebrating across the country. Why confine the commemoration to a single day, though? In order to allow us to celebrate the feats and marvels that have taken place within the industry, many push back the schedule and observe the entire week as National Aviation Week.
Events this week include:
A look at how an EAA Chapter reconstructed the 1940s crash of a warbird
Civil Air Patrol events take place in North Carolina and Alabama
A free event at the New England Air Museum in Connecticut
How to make a tiny airplane out of a few pieces of candy
Celebration at the Chennault Museum in Louisiana
Pilots in Oklahoma and Pennsylvania reflect on their passion to fly
Review some posts on the GlobalAir.com blog that detail aspects of aviation history
Oh yeah, by the way, it's also National Potato Day
The federal observation of National Aviation Day, which coincides with Orville Wright’s birthday, began 71 years ago today when President Franklin Roosevelt made the distinction with the stroke of a pen and a nod to the pioneers of controlled flight. The moment took place in an era that many look back as one that crested within a movement that sprinted toward today’s modern aviation.
Scrappy fighters and burly bombers played key roles in determining the fate of humanity in World War II. Within a year of Roosevelt’s declaration, Allied and Axis forces would see planes evolve from experimental objects into speedy military assets like the P-51 Mustang and A6M Zero that battled in the sky. The Germans flew the Heinkel He 178 during the era, the first usable jet, amongst a span of a few short years that saw rapid innovation in aviation and technology on both sides of the wire.
Planes like the B-29 Superfortress delivered greater payloads in increasingly efficient manner, and it forever changed warfare tactics and global politics by dropping a pair of atomic bombs on Japan. Thus, Roosevelt’s decision to honor the spirit of aviation by setting aside a national day was a small but important key in boosting American defense and technological progress. When the war ended, it set the stage for even further development amongst aircraft.
Commercial aviation ballooned. Suddenly, cross-country and international travel became attainable to the public. Then, three decades after Roosevelt’s declaration, mankind took a giant leap and placed footprints on the moon.
Soon private space travel, too, will be within the realm of possibility. Today is a great day to reflect backward and, at the same time, imagine the possibilities ahead.
Hopefully, you get a chance to celebrate the day by visiting an airport or aviation museum, while getting a chance pass the spirit on to others.
Drop a line in the comments section and let us know how you are celebrating the moment. What do you think the world of aviation will look like when we celebrate the 100th National Aviation Day in 2039?