About National Aviation Day
In 1939, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared Orville Wright's birthday as National Aviation Day. Why he chose to honor Orville over Wilbur is a mystery to historians, but it could have had something to do with the fact that Orville was still alive when FDR made the day official ... and Wilbur was not.
From NASA’s Tips for Celebrating National Aviation Day:
“Ever since 1939, August 19 has been celebrated as National Aviation Day, the legacy of a presidential proclamation first made by Franklin D. Roosevelt.
“Selected because it was Orville Wright’s birthday, the decision to revel in all things aeronautical came at an exciting time in aviation history.
"Just 36 years after the Wright Brothers flew the first heavier-than-air flying machine in 1903, aviation was a growing – if not thriving – industry in the United States and around the world.
“New world speed and distance records were being set, airlines that still exist today were being formed and, as World War II began, both Allied and Axis Powers sought new ways to beef up aviation’s role in warfare.
“By 1939, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (N.A.C.A.) – NASA’s organizational predecessor – was 24 years old and already well established with the nation’s premiere aviation research laboratory in Virginia, and a brand new center just approved to be built in California.
“Fundamental problems with flight were being solved on the drawing boards and in the wind tunnels of the N.A.C.A., enabling aircraft to fly faster, higher, farther and with more and more cargo and passengers.
“Today, with the N.A.C.A.’s research heritage still alive and well at NASA, it can be said that every U.S. aircraft and air traffic control tower in operation today uses some kind of NASA-developed technology.”