National Aviation Day – A Celebration of Aviation Advancements
Did you know that August 19 is National Aviation Day? And, National Aviation Day also coincides with Orville Wright’s birthday. Established in 1939 by a Presidential Proclamation, National Aviation Day honors the contributions and developments in the aviation industry.
In December 1903, history was made when Wilbur and Orville Wright launched their plane at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The plane flew for 12 seconds over a distance of 120 feet. That may not seem like much these days, but in 1903, this was an incredible feat, and it set the course of development in aviation history. No doubt the Wright brothers might envision the advancement of the aircraft from small carriers to the jumbo jets of today including the A380 and the Boeing Dreamliner. And, it’s likely that people may travel to space as a tourism destination in the future.
In celebration of National Aviation Day, let’s take a brief look back into PHX Sky Harbor Airport’s development. The first flights in Phoenix were operated by Scenic Airways on a 14 seat aircraft from Phoenix to Puerto Peñasco, Mexico. In 1935, the city of Phoenix acquired Sky Harbor Airport. Back then, there was one terminal, one gate, three flights, and approximately 600 passengers a year. Compare that with today’s three terminals, numerous flights and nearly 40 million passengers a year.
Over the past 70 years, Sky Harbor has seen Terminal 1 come and go and the construction and upgrades of new facilities. Did you know that in 1952, Terminal 1 was considered one of the more modern facilities of its time? Terminal 2 was opened in 1962, while Terminal 3 opened in 1979 and Terminal 4 in 1990. In 2006, the Rental Car Center opened, and in 2007, a new state-of-the-art tower and TRACON facility was completed and opened. And, as we look to the future, PHX Sky Harbor has the on-going construction of the PHX Sky Train which will accommodate future growth and make travel between the terminals, Rental Car Center and Light Rail station more efficient.
As National Aviation Day comes and goes, ponder the advancements we’ve made in the past 100+ years. And, to see a historic video of Boeing’s first pressurized aircraft in 1940, click here. At the 3:30 mark in the video, you’ll see some historical footage of Sky Harbor Airport – a treat for Sky Harbor and aviation buffs. To learn more about Sky Harbor’s history, click here
Above, right is a postcard from 1910 promoting the “Second Aviation Meet in America.”