national aviation day

In 1860 the first Japanese embassy to tour the United States witnessed the launch of two hot air balloons. Philadelphia planned this spectacular event to welcome their guests. This woodcut is a close copy of an illustration from the published diary of an embassy member. The Japanese had never before seen hot air balloons and artists were inspired by the human flying machines. Happy National Aviation Day!

Picture of a Balloon,” 1861 (Edo Period, 1615–1868), by Baisotei Gengyo

Happy National Aviation Day!

Get in the mood with some old timey music, thanks to our Bella C. Landauer Collection of Aeronautic Sheet Music! (As long as you have a piano, can read music, and are willing to DIY, that is…)

This image is the cover of I miss you Miss America. Lyrics by L. Wolfe Gilbert and song by Lee S. Roberts. (Jos. W. Stern & Co, 1916).


Happy birthday, Orville Wright - and happy National Aviation Day to everyone!

The pioneering aviator was born today in 1871 in Dayton, Ohio. Orville and his brother Wilbur are famous for making the first sustained human flight aboard their airplane the Wright Flyer in 1903, and developing a method of control for fixed wing aircraft that remains the industry standard today.

One of seven siblings, Orville’s love of flying stemmed from a helicopter toy that his father bought the brothers. Once the helicopter broke, the brothers built their own to replace it, and so began their lifelong love affair with the skies. Wilbur began designing his own flying machine in the 1890s. However, it was his younger brother Orville, wearing a suit and tie and lying on the wing of the Wright Flyer, who completed the first manned flight lasting 12 seconds on December 17, 1903 in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. The brothers flew their plane 3 more times, with Wilbur’s last flight lasting over a minute.

Despite early skepticism from the public, the Wright brothers’ invention soon became a household name. When Wilbur died of typhoid fever in 1912, Orville took over the business, but sold the company shortly afterward. Up until his own death in 1948, he remained an active member of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics - which would become the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (nasa)​ - and was awarded the first Daniel Guggenheim Medal in 1928 for his contribution to aeronautics.

Note: .gifs are not all from the same flight. See the full video we pulled them from, the U.S. Air Force film Make America First in the Air, at

Superman was the start of the whole superhero thing … Superman’s costume was different because of the bright colors, that silly cape, those red boots, his belt, and his chest symbol. I mean, it’s ridiculous, because you really don’t need a costume to fly or fight bad guys. If I had superpowers, I wouldn’t wear a costume.

Stan Lee, ‘More Than Normal, But Believable’, chapter 17, from What is a Superhero? edited by Robin S. Rosenberg and Peter Coogan.

In celebration of National Aviation Day: it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman (as told by Stan Lee).

Happy flying everyone!