Wright Brothers Day

If you ask most people in the U.S. who invented the airplane, they would likely respond by saying it was the Wright Brothers. Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first controlled, motor-operated airplane flight 4 miles south of Kitty Hawk on December 17, 1903.

That’s why Wright Brothers Day is celebrated annually on December 17th. This day not only commemorates the achievements of these two brothers but also the achievement of human flight.

The History of Wright Brothers Day

The history of this holiday can be traced back to the 1960s when a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress declared December 17, 1963, as Wright Brothers Day. Although this holiday was originally supposed to be just a one-off celebration for that year, Congress amended the resolution to designate December 17th as Wright Brothers Day going forward. This allows U.S. Presidents to issue an annual proclamation encouraging people to observe this holiday.

The Wright Brothers’ Interest in Aviation Began with a Toy

Wilbur Wright was born on April 16, 1867, near Millville, Indiana. Orville Wright was born on August 19, 1871. Their father, Milton Wright, was a bishop in the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, and as a result of his duties, had to travel frequently.

When he returned from these trips, he would often bring back small toys for his five children. In 1878, he brought back a small model helicopter for his boys that was made from bamboo, paper, cork, and powered by a rubber band.

This model was based on a design by French aeronautical pioneer Alphonse Penaud. The toy fascinated the boys and resulted in them developing a lifelong interest in flying and aeronautics. The rest is history.

Interesting Facts About Aviation

We know there are probably quite a few people who are looking for some cool aviation facts to talk about on Wright Brothers Day, so we decided to list a few of them below. Hopefully, the following factoids will prove both interesting and fun to anyone reading them.

  • Orville Wright’s flight lasted 12 seconds and only covered 120 feet.
  • Wilbur Wright once quipped that he didn’t have time for both a wife and an airplane.
  • The oldest airline in the world is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, established in 1919.
  • In 2019, an aircraft took off or landed every 37 seconds at Chicago O’Hare’s Airport.
  • The wingspan of a Boeing 747 is longer than the Wright Brothers’ first flight.
  • The family of 747 planes has flown more than 5.6 billion people over the years. That’s the equivalent of approximately 80% of the world’s population.
  • Pilots and co-pilots eat separate meals to prevent them both from getting food poisoning in case of food contamination.

Observing Wright Brothers Day

Wright Brothers Day can be observed by not only learning about the Wright Brothers’ epic first flight but also about some of the other pioneers of aviation. People can also use the hashtag #WrightBrothersDay on their social media accounts to spread the word about this holiday.

Where is it celebrated?
United States (Observance)
When is it?
This year (2024)
December 17 Tuesday
Next year (2025)
December 17 Wednesday
Last year (2023)
December 17 Sunday