Not only is August 19th the birthday of siblings Orville and Katharine Wright, but it is also National Aviation Day! Orville was born on August 19, 1871, while his sister Katharine arrived on August 19, 1874.
National Aviation Day was created with a presidential proclamation by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in August 1939 to recognize the history and development of aviation in the United States. August 19th was picked to coincide with the birthday of Orville Wright. The proclamation calls for all federal buildings to display the U.S. Flag and “invites the people of the United States to observe National Aviation Day with appropriate exercises to further stimulate interest in aviation in the United States.”
There are many ways to celebrate both National Aviation Day and the Wright birthdays on August 19th. You can browse the thousands of Wright photographs that have been digitized from the Wright Brothers Collection (MS-1) and made available on CORE Scholar. Download a coloring sheet featuring Katharine Wright or one of the aviation word searches from our Fun and Educational Activities page. Maybe even browse the diary of their father, Milton Wright, in search of references to their birthdays.
If you are interested in aviation history, browse and search many of our aviation collections that have been digitized. Use the aircraft database to search for a specific plane or view the Wright Company Glass Plate Negative Collection.
Since the weather forecast this week is almost perfect, take the time to visit one or more of the National Aviation Heritage Area partners. Make a family outing to Huffman Prairie to see where the Wright Brothers mastered the principles of powered flight, visit the National Museum of the United States Air Force and walk through galleries of aircraft and aviation history, or take a stroll through Woodland Cemetery, the burial location for the Wright family.
If you want to celebrate from home feel free to bake a cake for Orville and Katharine or simply relax on your back patio for a few minutes, gaze up at the blue summer sky, and watch all of the air traffic pass over.