National Aviation Day: 7 ways to celebrate
National Aviation Day falls on Saturday, August 19.
National Aviation Day was created in 1939 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to celebrate the birthday of Orville Wright and highlight the industry's achievements. In honor of this day, we've put together a list of seven things every AVGeek must do in his or her lifetime.
1. Go to a major air show
The must-attend show for all aviation enthusiasts is the Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture, the world's largest aviation celebration. Taking place on the last week of July in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Wittman Regional Airport becomes the busiest in the world, handling over 10,000 aircraft movements. Attendees can see thousands of aircrafts on display, ranging from the Boeing 787 to a spectacular display of World War II aircrafts. You can also attend aviation-themed workshops, visit vendor booths, watch aerial shows, indulge in a plate of cheese curds and watch aviation-themed movies at the Fly-in Theater.
2. Visit an aviation museum
The Washington, D.C., area is home to two locations of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. The downtown D.C. outpost is home to the Spirit of St. Louis, the Bell X-1 jet that General Chuck Yeager flew while breaking the speed of sound and the original studio model of the Starship Enterprise featured in the wildly popular 1960s television show Star Trek. The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, near Washington Dulles International, is home to an Air France Concorde, the Boeing 367-80 — a precursor to the 707 jet — and Space Shuttle Discovery.
Some other great aviation museums to consider visiting are:
- The Museum of Flight in Seattle, home to numerous aircraft, spacecraft and galleries.
- The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, where you'll find museum exhibits and reproductions of the 1903 airplane and 1902 glider.
- The Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, features a boneyard spanning 2,600 acres and containing 4,000 retired aircraft.
- The Air Museum of Flying in Palm Springs, California, is one of the few museums that allow its visitors to climb inside and explore the exhibits.
3. Take a general aviation discovery flight
Flight schools and general aviation airports across the country offer discovery flights for sightseeing and passengers curious about aviation. Most offer rides on a four-seat piston aircraft like a Cessna Skyhawk or a Piper Cherokee to view cities and towns from a higher view. A discovery flight on average can cost $99 but it is well worth it for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. And who knows? It could be the start of your journey to becoming a pilot.
4. Fly in a hot air balloon
When thinking of aviation, people tend to forget about hot air balloons. They allow passengers to see a city like Palm Springs from a unique vantage point. Balloon Rides Across America offers more information on how to book a hot air balloon ride from certified operators all over the U.S.
5. Become a plane spotter
Airports across the country have great spots for aviation geeks to spot commercial aircraft, but the number-one plane-spotting destination is the Sunset Bar and Grill in St. Maarten, across from Princess Juliana International Airport. Planes swoop down so low on final approach that it's almost unreal. Other great plane-spotting locations include Gravelly Point, a grassy knoll where you can watch an aircraft's final approach coming into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C., or if you like to eat while you plane spot, head to the In-N-Out Burger near Los Angeles International Airport.
6. Visit an aircraft manufacturing plant
It's a thrill for aviation geeks to visit an aircraft production line. The greatest to tour is the Future of Flight Aviation Center, home to the Boeing Factory Tour in Everett, Washington, just 20 minutes north of Seattle. Visitors can take a look at the 747, 777 and 787 jets on the production line during one of the aviation center's 90-minute tours. Or head down south to Piper Aircraft in Vero Beach, Florida, for a facility tour.
7. Fly on an airline's final or inaugural flight
United launched service between San Francisco and Munich, Germany on May 24, and it was quite a party. Airlines like United like to celebrate inaugural flights or new aircraft launches by holding formal ceremonies, throwing celebrations and providing certificates to mark the occasion. It's fun for both the passengers and the crew to participate in these milestone events.
If you go
On March 19, 2020, United operated its first flight carrying cargo without passengers on board. While the passenger cabin was empty, its cargo hold was completely full, carrying more than 29,000 pounds of commodities from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt Airport (FRA).
A year later, United Cargo has operated more than 11,000 cargo-only flights carrying more than 570 million pounds of freight. To support the COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts, United Cargo has also transported more than 113 million pounds of medical and pharmaceutical products on both cargo-only and passenger flights as well as approximately 10 million COVID-19 vaccines, providing global communities access to the items they have needed most.
"At the beginning of the pandemic, we knew we were uniquely positioned to utilize our widebody aircraft and our network to keep commodities moving, so we quickly mobilized various departments throughout the airline to launch a cargo-only network of flights that would keep commodities moving," said United Cargo President Jan Krems. "Thanks to those efforts, United Cargo has delivered millions of items to countries all around the world. We would not have been successful without the steadfast support of our employees, industry partners and our customers."
Since last March, United Cargo has transported almost 850 million pounds of freight on cargo-only and passenger flights. The airline will continue to monitor market trends adjust its cargo-only flight schedules to help ensure we are meeting our customer's evolving shipping needs.
Whether you haven't flown with us for a while or just need a quick refresher before your spring trip, read this list of tips to know before your flight and arrive at the airport travel-ready:
1. Download the United app for contactless bag check, travel assistance and more
Before your flight, download the United app to view your flight status, check in, sign up for flight notifications, locate departure gates, access our free personal device entertainment when available and more. We've also updated our app with new features that can make your trip a little safer, including contactless bag check.
Don't forget to use Agent on Demand for help with any and all questions you may have before your flight. This new capability is available at all our U.S. hub airports and allows you to use your own mobile device to contact a customer service agent via phone, video or chat to help with day-of-travel questions while you're at the airport. Learn more about Agent on Demand here.
2. Check out the Travel-Ready Center
Our Travel-Ready Center makes it easy to get a personalized overview of everything you need to do in preparation for your flight. Just enter your confirmation number or MileagePlus® number and you'll find detailed information on all the documents, tests and more that you'll need for your trip.
3. Read and sign the Ready-to-Fly checklist
Before completing check-in, all United travelers will need to read our Ready-to-Fly checklist and confirm that they understand and agree to our policies. These include:
Acknowledging that you haven't had any symptoms of COVID-19 in the last 14 days
Agreeing that you will not fly if you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 21 days
Confirming that you will follow all policies regarding face masks, social distancing and other health and safety measures we've adopted
4. Arrive early; avoid the stress
Airports can be busy, especially during peak travel periods like spring break season. The TSA advises arriving at the airport two hours before your flight for domestic travel and three hours for international travel in anticipation of long security lines. This can help ease the stress when navigating busy check-in areas, security lines and crowded boarding gates.
5. Get familiar with CleanPlus
United CleanPlus℠ is our commitment to delivering industry-leading cleanliness as we put health and safety at the forefront of your experience. We've teamed up with Clorox to redefine our cleaning and disinfection procedures and Cleveland Clinic to advise us on enhancing our cleaning and disinfection protocols, like:
Disinfecting high-touch areas on board and in the terminal
Using electrostatic spraying, Ultraviolet C lighting wands and more advanced measures to clean aircraft cabins before boarding
Redesigning our mobile app to allow for touchless check-in and contactless payment, along with enhanced travel assistance features
Implementing high-efficiency (HEPA) filters on our aircraft that completely recirculate cabin air every 2-3 minutes and remove 99.97% of airborne particles, including viruses and bacteria
Studies show COVID-19 exposure risk is minimal when air filtration systems and masks are in use, so you can rest assured that the steps we've taken to keep you safe truly make a difference.
6. Wear your mask
Federal law requires all travelers to wear a face mask in the airport, including customer service counters, airport lounges, gates and baggage claim, and on board during their entire flight. Make sure you review the requirements for face masks, including what an acceptable face mask looks like.
7. Get ready for a safer boarding process
To make boarding even safer, we now have travelers board their aircraft from back to front. At the gate, just listen for your row number to be called – we'll ask a few rows at a time to board, starting with the last row of the plane. This helps everyone maintain a safe distance from each other during boarding without slowing things down. As you step onto the plane, flight attendants will hand each passenger a sanitizing towelette, which you can use to wipe down your seat to ensure it's extra clean.
8. Pack smart
Before packing your bags, check to see what exactly you can carry on and what you should plan to check. You can also copy your confirmation number into our Baggage Calculator tool to learn about the bag allowance included with your reservation, as well as the cost of checking any additional bags.
9. Check your flight status, important notices and weather
Check the United app regularly for the latest updates on weather conditions, flight status, gate numbers and seat assignments. You can also visit our Important Notices page to find essential information and updates about travel waivers, international travel, TSA and security, airports and United Club locations.
10. Relax and enjoy your flight
Once you're on board, it's time to sit back and enjoy your flight. Our flight attendants will be happy to help you with anything else you need.
This week, we were honored to become the first U.S. airline to join the UNICEF Humanitarian Airfreight Initiative to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by transporting the vaccine and other critically needed supplies to underserved areas of the globe.
"We are committed to helping the global community in any way we can, and we all must work together to do our part to bring this health and humanitarian crisis to an end," said Director of Cargo Specialty Products Manu Jacobs.
We will leverage our expertise to transport these critical pharmaceutical and healthcare shipments around the world safely, efficiently and expediently. We are proud to partner with the United Nations to support this global effort and provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.
Together, we are facing an unprecedented challenge. United Together, we rise to meet that challenge.
Calling all AvGeeks and travelers! Take your next video call from a United Polaris® seat, the cockpit or cruising altitude with United-themed backgrounds for use on Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Newly added to our collection is a background encouraging our employees and customers to vote. Our mission is to connect people and unite the world — and one of the most important ways to do that is to engage in the democratic process. No matter which party you support, we know our democracy will be stronger if you make your voice heard and vote.
So for your next meeting or catch up with friends and family, download the app to either your computer or mobile device to get started.
To use on Zoom:
- Start here by downloading your favorite United image to your computer or mobile device. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- Next go to your Zoom app (you'll need to download the app to access backgrounds) and click on the arrow to the right of your video camera icon in the bottom of the screen.
- From here select, "choose virtual background" to upload your uniquely United photo.
To use on Microsoft Teams:
- Start by downloading your favorite United image to your computer. Just click "download" in the bottom left corner of the image.
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- C:\[insert your device user name here]\AppData\Microsoft\Teams\Backgrounds\Uploads
- If you're using a Mac copy the images to this folder on your computer:
- /users/<username>/Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Teams/Backgrounds/Uploads
- If you're using a PC, copy the image you want to use into this folder:
- Once you start a Teams meeting, click the "…" in the menu bar and select "Show background effects" and your image should be there
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