Aviation Day Honors the History and Growth of Flight in America

Aviation! Whether it's soaring at 36,0' or attending an air show, America loves flight. (Charles Atkeison)

Aviation Day, a national day set a side to celebrate aviation in the United States, is fueling the growth of flight each year, propelling individuals into personal flying lessons while increasing the popularity of America’s air show industry.

Aviation Day is celebrated each year on August 19 and began with the signing of a proclamation by then President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939. The date was chosen to honor the birthday of Orville Wright, the first to pilot a powered aircraft. Since the early days of aviation, the growth of personal flight across the nation has proven to be safer, more affordable, and at an all time high.

1903: The birth of powered flight on the beach at Kitty Hawk as Orville Wright pilots the Wright Flyer as Wilbur watches and records nearby. (USAF)

“Aviation is more than just a mode of transportation,” said Avgeekery.com founder Jeff Gilmore, a pilot himself who has logged over 3,500 hours of flying time. “It’s the realization of a dream that every human has had which, now realized, connects societies and powers economies at a scale we’ve never seen before.”

Attendance at air shows across America continues to grow including the addition of new show sites in host towns each year. Most who attend the weekend events are drawn by the family-friendly atmosphere and the inexpensive value of an air show.

During Aviation Day weekend 2018, seven air shows will take place across the continental 48 states. They will showcase both men and women aerobatic performers, military demonstrations, and display historic maneuvers flown by the pilots of yesteryear.

Interest in aviation at an early age can carry up and coming pilots to new heights. (Charles Atkeison)

Former GEICO Skytypers Air show Team pilot Steve Kapur believes Aviation Day is great for America. “It’s a wonderful celebration of the past, and hopefully it will inspire the next generation of pilots,” he noted. “It’s a chance to look back, and it’s a chance to look forward, and start to think about ‘what will aviation become?'”

Military and civilian aerobatic pilots and teams are flying high as social media growth in users who follow their accounts are climbing. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram users can stay up to date with pilot’s schedules and view real time images from the pilot’s flight day demonstration.

Air shows have witnessed an upswing in popularity with the growth of live streaming apps which now provides a live window for the aviation community to witness the busy flight line from miles away. Aviation enthusiasts and teams are using Periscope, the live-streaming app owned by Twitter, to both promote and give viewers an insiders view during an air show.

Larry Arken, pilot and leader of the world famous GEICO Skytypers, reflects upon the past on Aviation Day each year. “To see how far we have advanced in this short amount of time is amazing,” Arken said. “From wood and fabric aircraft to composite aircraft that fly by wire at supersonic speeds, Aviation Day gives us an opportunity to study these advancements and to realize the future of aviation has endless possibilities.”

The Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornet Demo Team performs at air shows each year. (Charles Atkeison)

America’s military can also be found on social media, including the flight demo teams the Blue Angels, Thunderbirds, Navy Tac Demo, and F-22 Raptor. The Navy’s F/A-18 demonstration team’s Facebook account combines updates and images unique to the public eye.

“You think about the legacy of aviation over the last century or so, and the amount of work that goes into producing the kind of aircraft we get to fly and the airlines the general public get to fly on,” explained LCDR Wallace “Gump” Miller, an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot stationed with VFA-192 World Famous Golden Dragons. “I know it gets me excited every time I get to see those planes fly.”

LCDR Miller, who performed at several air shows between 2014 and 2016 with the Navy’s TAC Demo Team, sees Aviation Day as an awareness for today’s youth. “I hope it will inspire the next generation to be involved in the aviation industry whether that’s engineers, pilots, or maintainers.”

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will use the day to promote aviation around the world with special social media events. NASA is encouraging the public to “spread your wings” and share a photograph via social media taken at an airport or aboard an aircraft to celebrate the day.

In addiaiton to the NASA centers, the aerospace agency will also be present at the Chicago Air & Water Show along with the Thunderbirds. The agency will follow #AviationDay and #SpreadYourWings on various social media outlets.

“Our heritage in aviation research goes back more than 100 years,” NASA aviation spokesperson Karen Rugg explained. “We’ve helped air travel become a safe, reliable form of transportation. But we’re not finished. We’re working to transform aviation into something even better by perfecting new technologies, including those that could lead to shape-shifting wings, electric propulsion and the return of commercial supersonic flight.”

Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola sits next door to the home of the Blue Angels. (Charles Atkeison)

Since the first untethered hot air balloon flight by two French men in November 1783; the Wright Brothers first powered aircraft flight in December 1903, and the first landing on the Moon by Armstrong and Aldrin in 1969, humankind has looked skyward to travel. Today, private, commercial and military aircraft will take to the skies around the planet while six humans continue living and working in space.

(Charles A. Atkeison reports on aerospace and technology. Follow his updates on social media via @Military_Flight.)