5 Ways to Celebrate National Aviation Day

Two days from now marks National Aviation Day.  A presidential proclamation made in 1939 invites people to observe this day with “appropriate exercises to further stimulate interest in aviation”.  Nowadays, when you can simply go to Travelocity and pick up a ticket from Atlanta to New York City, it’s easy to take aviation for granted, and forget how much a miracle it seemed when the Wright Brothers first flew some 112 years ago.  Aviation has gone leaps and bounds since that fabled first flight in Kitty Hawk; a record number of more than 3.3 billion people got on a plane last year alone.  Of course, aviation is far from perfect, but the future for planes looks bright, with many airliners on their way to serving travelers around the world in cool, sophisticated ways.  I recently came across an article with some ideas for celebrating Aviation Day, listed below:

Clipper flying cloud

1. Air and Space Museum: While the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum has got plenty to offer to celebrate National Aviation Day, their companion facility outside DC pays homage to one of history’s groundbreaking airliners: the last surviving Boeing 307 Stratoliner and the first successful commercial airliner with a pressurized cabin, the Clipper Flying Cloud.  The plane’s pressurized cabin virtually “eradicated” passenger sickness, allowing airline passengers to fly above bad weather and make the ride much smoother.

Lockheed Connie

2. Fly the “Connie”: Lockheed’s L-1049 Super Constellation, known to aviation enthusiasts as “Connie”, is a 50 year-old icon that you can still fly on.  However, the price for flying on this piece of aircraft history is a bit steep; to get on the plane, all passengers need to first join the Super Constellation Flyers Association for about $120, then purchase tickets starting at $230.  From May through autumn, the plane hosts pleasure flights to European destinations such as Germany, Belgium and Switzerland, and aviation enthusiasts will travel around the world in the Connie just for the experience.

Brown bird airplane

3. Fly a two-seater: For a $100 membership, you can experience the sensation of flying aboard the two-seater “Brown Bird”, just like the Wright Brothers.  It isn’t the most efficient way to travel; it burns 20 gallons of fuel an hour, and flies slow and low, yet it’s a great historical experience as you get to fly just like the Wright Brothers did.

Flying a glider

4. Glider flights: When talking about their first glider flights, people tend to use such words as “spectacular”, “breathtaking” and “sensational”.  This might be due to the fact that the only thing between you and the sky is an eighth of an inch of plexiglass, giving the user the feeling that they’re actually flying without an airplane.  In some instances, you might even find yourself flying with eagles.

flying lesson

5. Take a flying lesson: This is reserved for the more enthusiastic of aviation enthusiasts.  Research flight schools, and sign up for an hour-long introductory flight in a small plane with a certified flight instructor.  The annual number of active pilots in the US with FAA student certificates has been rising for the past four years, with thousands of new student pilots getting into the cockpit every year.  And getting a pilot’s license might be easier than you think, thanks to a 2004 FAA rule that allows wannabe fliers to earn pilot certificates in less time, albeit with more limitations.