Get extra lift from AOPA. Start your free membership trial today! Click here

Celebrate National Aviation Day

Northwestern aviation enthusiasts have a convenient Bremerton, Washington, venue to celebrate Aug. 19’s National Aviation Day where they can socialize at a Barnstormers Party, listen to a band, and share good times and good flying at the 2016 AOPA Fly-In at the Bremerton National Airport. In fact, pilots everywhere have plenty of options to help celebrate this special day.


The iconic image of the first powered flight near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Dec. 17, 1903. Photo by John T. Daniels.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 set aside the August date to be known as National Aviation Day. Past celebrations have included free admission to U.S. aviation museums, special aviation-themed movie screenings, and other aviation events to commemorate the occasion.

It has also become a day when aviators are recognized for their contributions to local communities, to the economy, and to society at large during celebrations that honor aviation’s history on the birthday of Orville Wright, who pioneered powered flight with his brother Wilbur.

AOPA has collected a few neat ideas for celebrating the day, and AOPA is not alone.

Launch of space shuttle Atlantis STS-122. Photo courtesy of NASA.NASA has long participated in the annual celebration, and celebrates the work of the famous brothers with a dedicated website that has collected documents, teaching materials and an overview of the story of the world's first powered aircraft test pilots. The aviation and space agency continues to play a central role in the development of aviation technology, noting that “every U.S. aircraft and air traffic control tower in operation today uses some kind of NASA-developed technology.”

A little more than a century after that December flight from the sand dunes, Federal Express pilot Jim Parker wrote in his blog on Aviation Day 2015, “Even Orville Wright could not imagine that over 100 years later 40,000 cities around the world would be connected by over 100,000 commercial flights daily, generating more than US$2.2 trillion in economic output and a wealth of cultural and societal benefits.”

Steve Cox, the Civil Air Patrol’s public affairs manager, said he sees National Aviation Day “as a special day set aside to recognize and celebrate flight and the many benefits it provides.” The organization prides itself in providing aviation opportunities for young people, and cadets are encouraged to learn aeronautical and leadership skills from professionals while sharing some fun along the way.

Sarah Wilson is a barnstorming biplane pilot who has donated her time and resources to encourage the next generation of aviators to take up flying. Wilson wrote in her blog about overflying meadows in a biplane named Buddy while the summer’s warm air hugged her tightly and “clouds blushed with white light” floated above.

Biplane pilot Sarah Wilson takes a photo of Bruce Landsberg, the senior safety advisor for the Air Safety Institute, during the 2015 AOPA Fly-In to Tullahoma, Tennessee. Photo by David Tulis.

Thinking about what National Aviation Day meant to her, Wilson told AOPA, “Pilots are lucky to know, and often forget, the rest of the world looks up at the stars and can’t imagine what it would feel like to fly among them.”

New York pilot Tomas Vykruta recently completed a circumnavigation of Central and South America in a Cirrus SR22 and used aviation as the vehicle to build awareness for multiple sclerosis. He provided short rides for patients who temporarily traded the bonds of their wheelchairs for the freedom of flight.

Vykruta was reflective about the opportunities aviation has afforded him after flying over the Northwest past Bremerton, Washington, Seattle, and Canada’s British Columbia. He said that National Aviation Day reminded him of being “a kid again, to look up into the sky and let your imagination run wild.” He said it was a celebration of hope and dreams “not just for pilots but for the human species, a day to fill your heart with inspiration and courage to do the impossible.”

Fly for MS pilot Tomas Vykruta joins Peruvians for a dance next to his parked Cirrus during a circumnavigation flight of South and Central America. Photo courtesy of
David Tulis
David Tulis
Senior Photographer
Senior Photographer David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a private pilot with single-engine land and sea ratings and a tailwheel endorsement. He is also a certificated remote pilot and co-host of the award-wining AOPA Hangar Talk podcast. David enjoys vintage aircraft ad photography.
Topics: Public Benefit Flying, U.S. Travel, Canada

Related Articles