Aviation history

Celebrating National Aviation Day

Sculpture at the Wright Brothers National Monument _courtesy National Park Service

Today (August 19) is National Aviation Day, which celebrates the development of aviation and marks Orville Wright’s birthday.

Airports and aviation fans around the country will be noting the day in various ways.

Courtesy CVG

At Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), they’ll be celebrating with two events.

*From 11:30 a.m to 1:30 p.m. CVG is inviting community members to stop by the Airport Viewing Area to watch planes take off and land and enjoy a family-friendy outing with the Kona Ice truc, the CVG fire truck, games and other activities.

*From 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. CVG and Graeter’s Ice Cream will be greeting arriving passengers with samples of ice cream. There will also be a performance from ArtsWave Presents and aviation-themed giveaways in the terminal.

Mural honoring Wright Brothers – at Tampa International Airport

On National Aviation Day, one of my traditions is to remember Katharine Wright, Orville and Wilbur’s sister, who was often referred to as “The Third Wright Brother.”

Don’t know about her? That’s because Orville tried to have Katharine’s role in the brothers’ accomplishment erased from history.

Here’s a short feature story I produced about Katherine Wright back in 2003 for National Public Radio as part of my Hidden Treasures Radio Project series.

Airports named for U.S. Presidents

For Presidents Day, what else but a list of U.S. airports named for presidents:

Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport (SPI) in Springfield, Ill.

New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)

Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Washington, D.C.’s Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)

George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) in Houston, Texas

Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport (DIK) – Dickinson, North Dakota

Bill & Hillary Clinton National Airport (LIT) – Little Rock, Arkansas

Witchita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport

Any airports I missed? Or any you’d like to rename for certain presidents?

Aviation history on view at Wichita Eisenhower National Airport

The new terminal at Wichita Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport (formerly Wichita Mid-Continent Airport) opened “way back” in June, 2015.

But the aviation-themed architectural features in the building and the information panels highlighting Witchita’s rich aviation history still seem shiny new.

In fact, the terminal looks more like a museum than an airport.

I’m putting a visit on my 2019 “go there” list right now. I’m looking forward to learning more about the airport’s history (the first terminal is now an aviation museum) and about Witchita’s aviation history, which reaches back long before 1928, when Clyde Cessna created the Cessna Aircraft Co. and Wichita begans promoting itself as “The Air Capital of the World.”

Here are some photos the airport’s team recently sent to StuckatTheAirport.com.

First 787 Dreamliner test plane now an attraction in Japan

The first Boeing 787 Dreamliner test plane, which first flew December 15, 2009, is now the main attraction at an aviation theme park called Flight of Dreams that opened this week in Japan at Chubu Centrair International, an airport built on an artificial island south of Nagoya.

I had a chance to visit the attraction shortly before it opened and learn about this unique project.

Courtesy Flight of Dreams

The four-story complex is built between the airport’s two terminals and welcomes visitors to a Flight Center with high-tech and hands-on aviation experiences, including a look inside the 787’s cockpit and a virtual tour of Boeing’s Everett, WA factory.

Many of Boeing’s Japanese aerospace partners are based in the Nagoya area and produce an estimated 35% of all the parts that go into the 787 aircraft.

That includes the main wing and fuselage sections, which are so big that they must travel from Centrair to Boeing’s U.S. assembly plants in Everett, WA and North Charleston, S.C. in Boeing’s 747-400 Large Cargo Freight Dreamlifters.

Boeing donated the first 787 built to Nagoya’s Centrair International Airport in 2015 to honor the role the airport and the people of the region played – and continue to play – in the Dreamliner’s development and production. And instead of just parking the aircraft on the airport grounds, Centrair decided to build a destination aviation theme-park around the plane.

The second and third floors of the facility, dubbed Seattle Terrace, overlook the 787 and include branches of some of some of Seattle’s iconic shops and restaurants, including Starbucks (of course), Pike Brewing, Fran’s Chocolates, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, Pike Brewing, and several others.

 

As with all theme parks, visitors exit through the souvenir shop, which is itself quite the attraction.

The first Boeing Store outside the United States is here and is stocked with around 500 aviation-related items, including furniture and artwork made from re-purposed airplane parts and many Boeing-branded items that will only be sold in this store.

Learn more about the attraction – and see a slide show of 29 photos in my story about the Flight of Dreams attraction on USA TODAY.

National Aviation Day and the 3rd Wright Brother

At Seattle's Museum of Flight

In 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed August 19  – Orville Wright’s birthday – to be National Aviation Day.

It’s a great excuse (as if you really need one) to celebrate aviation, aviation history, aviators through the ages and how fun it is to fly.

But ever since I learned the story of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s sister, Katherine, I make sure to pay homage to her on this day.

Few people even know the Wright Brothers had a sister. But without Katherine who, for example, kept the bicycle shop running while her brothers were out doing their thing in the Kitty Hawk dunes, National Aviation Day may have had a very different back story.

Here’s a link to a radio piece titled Katherine Wright: The Forgotten Wright Brother,  that I put together for National Public Radio (way back in 2003!) on Katherine Wright. When the Wright Brothers were all the rage, Katherine was known as the 3rd Wright Brother and most certainly should be remembered on National Aviation Day.

Take a listen and let me know what you think.