Tales from the Archives: National Aviation Day

Written by: Joy O'Donnell, DAR Archivist
August 19, 2016

Today is National Aviation Day, a national observation that celebrates the development of aviation!  Established in 1939 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, on the anniversary of Orville Wright’s birthday, this day encourages us to celebrate the achievements made by both men and women in the field of aviation.  For our inaugural Tales from the Archives blog, we would like to honor one particular aviatrix, Amelia Earhart, who spoke on the “Development of Aviation” at DAR’s 42nd Continental Congress. 

Amelia Earhart, while not a DAR member herself, was invited by the DAR to give an address in 1933, four years before her untimely death.  Earhart graciously accepted the invitation and gave an enlightening and entertaining speech, explaining how commercial flying was developed and encouraging the Daughters to overcome any trepidation they may have about flying.  She said, “I hope that aviation will mean more and more to you.  I think the example which is set by the first lady of the land has done more to help air transportation than any single factor, the fact that Mrs. Roosevelt flies and enjoys it.”  Eleanor Roosevelt took many flights as First Lady, a fact that Amelia Earhart clearly respected. 

What was not mentioned at the time was that the DAR’s President General at that time had her own adventures in flying.  After the conclusion of Earhart’s address, President General Edith Magna presented her with a bouquet of roses and enthusiastically told the audience, “Daughters, I am telling Miss Earhart your President General is air-minded also.”  Before that Congress, Mrs. Magna had been traveling by plane for DAR State Societies’ conferences.

Mrs. Magna may have been the first President General to take advantage of flying, but she surely is not the last.  Now Presidents General travel hundreds of miles each year by air.  DAR members include airline mechanics, commercial airline pilots, aeronautical engineers, and leaders in the aviation industry. You can learn about three of these contemporary members in Todays Daughters, Jacque Smith Burdette an air-traffic controller for the FAA, Captain Lorilyn Woods an Army pilot and Dr. Linda Schwartz who served as an Air Force flight nurse and now is an assistant secretary with the VA.

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