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Bush Pilot

Why we honor pilots each August 19

  • Author: Laurel Andrews
  • Updated: July 7, 2016
  • Published August 19, 2012

It's National Aviation Day, observed in honor of the history and development of aviation.

Why August 19? That just happens to be the birthday of one Orville Wright, who is credited as the first man to fly in a powered airplane. Orville and Wilbur Wright are considered by some to be the most influential inventors of the modern era. That first flight in 1903 led to a revolution: society as we know it wouldn't exist without aircraft. From shipping to travel to warfare, aviation changed everything. And there are few places more dependent on the aviation industry than Alaska.

From bicycle mechanics to avionics

Orville Wright was born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1871, four years after his brother Wilbur. The brothers grew up in a home, Orville wrote, "where there was always much encouragement ... to investigate whatever aroused curiosity"

Before delving into aviation, the Wright brothers tried their hand at various enterprises, including opening a bicycle shop. But eventually, inspired by German glider Otto Lilienthal, Wilbur would go on to say that he had been "afflicted with the belief that flight is possible."

In 1903 they changed the face of aviation forever with the first manned, powered flight in history.

Last Frontier for bush pilots

In Alaska, National Aviation Day is especially poignant. Per capita, the 49th state has more pilots than any other state in the Union. Flying is crucial to modern life in rural Alaska; 82 percent of communities here are serviceable year-round only by air.

Learn more about Alaska's special relationship with the aviation industry here.

Are you an Alaska aviator? Share your stories, photos and videos with Bush Pilot. Contact Laurel Andrews at laurel(at)

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