Pan American Aviation Day is observed in the
United States to stimulate interest in aviation.
Pan American Aviation Day
Pan American Aviation Day is annually observed in the United States on December 17. It celebrates and stimulates interest in aviation in the western hemisphere as an important way to develop more rapid communications and cultural development. It is observed on the same day as the Wright Brothers Day and must not be confused with National Aviation Day.
According to 36 U.S.C. § 134, on Pan American Aviation Day the president calls on "all officials of the United States Government, the chief executive offices of the States, territories, and possessions of the United States, and all citizens to participate in the observance of Pan American Aviation Day to further, and stimulate interest in, aviation in the American countries as an important stimulus to the further development of more rapid communications and a cultural development between the countries of the Western Hemisphere." The date commemorates the first successful flight of a mechanically propelled heavier-than-air craft, accomplished on December 17, 1903, by the Wright brothers near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
What do people do?
The United States president may issue an annual proclamation calling on all US government officials, chief executive offices, and citizens to observe Pan American Aviation Day. The day aims to stimulate people's interest in aviation in American countries. It focuses on developing more rapid communications and a cultural development between the countries in the western hemisphere.
Activities on the day include: school trips to aviation museums or centers; classroom exercises to stimulate students' interest in and knowledge of the history and technological advancements of aviation in the western hemisphere; and special meetings or luncheons focusing on aviation. The theme of the day may tie in with the Wright Brothers Day, which also focuses on two pioneers in the aviation industry – Orville and Wilbur Wright. The Wright Brothers were responsible for the first controlled, powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight on December 17, 1903.
Pan American Aviation Day is an observance and is not a public holiday in the United States.
In the early 20th century flight companies and pioneers, such as Pan American World Airways and the Wright brothers, made great advancements within the aviation industry that would lead to future years of breakthrough developments. Pan American Aviation Day was first observed on December 17, 1940. The celebrations for the day included first showings of two motion pictures, the presentation of the Collier Trophy by President Franklin Roosevelt, an aviation banquet, and broadcasts by military officials. Stamps commemorating Pan-American Aviation Day were also sold that year.
President Roosevelt gave countries in the western hemisphere a reason to celebrate the day. However, Roosevelt was criticized by one newspaper for failing to refer to others who contributed to great developments in the aviation industry, such as Brazil's aviation hero Alberto Santos-Dumont. Alberto Santos-Dumont designed, built, and flew the first practical dirigible (airship) balloon, which is a lighter than air aircraft that can be steered and propelled through the air. In doing so he became the first person to demonstrate that routine, controlled flight was possible.
In 1898, Santos-Dumont flew his first balloon design, the Brésil. He also won the Deutsch de la Meurthe prize on October 19, 1900, on a flight that rounded the Eiffel Tower. Pan American Aviation Day day falls on the same day as the Wright Brothers Day, which was created afterwards and at times tends to overshadow Pan American Aviation Day.
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