National Aviation Day!

Carl ChanceEditor Carl Chance, Wings Over Kansas’ aviation & aerospace correspondent, former news consultant and producer for Wingspan Air & Space Channel.

August 19, 2011, Wichita, Kansas: It is of historical significance to note that the United States commemorated its 72nd-annual National Aviation Day on August 19th, 2011.

It is more than fitting and proper to acknowledge this special celebration from Wichita, the Air Capital of the World. Early on in the Twentieth Century Wichita became an aviation entrepreneurial center for aircraft design and manufacturing, continuing on today producing aircraft and aviation products for the worldwide marketplace.

National Aviation Day (August 19) was established in 1939 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who issued a presidential proclamation which designated the anniversary of Orville Wright’s birthday to be National Aviation Day (Mr. Wright, born in 1871, was still alive when the proclamation was first issued, and would live another nine years). This annual day was to mark the milestone of manned, powered flight. Orville Wright made the first flight for 12 seconds and 120 feet at the site of Wright Brothers National Memorial at 10:35 a.m. on December 17, 1903.

The Wright brothers’ were not the first to build and fly experimental aircraft but they are the first to invent aircraft controls that made fixed wing flight possible. The Wright brothers’ status as inventors of the airplane has been an issue of debate, particularly as there were competing claims regarding other early aviators. In the final analysis, Orville and Wilbur were given credit for building and flying the world’s first successful airplane with aircraft controls that had enabled them to steer the plane.

I’ve always like the statement made by Franz Grillparzer, Austrian writer who said, “The cradle of the future is in the grave of the past.”

If you’d like more information regarding the Wright Brothers life, struggles and accomplishments, please access and click on Aviation Book Reviews to read articles by Walter J. Boyne.