The images were stark and startling.

a large passenger jet flying through a blue sky: Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-200 taking off from LAX

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Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-200 taking off from LAX

Half-a-dozen passengers … three passengers … ONE passenger, on a large jet airplane. Who would have ever thought that would happen, but that’s what the coronavirus pandemic did to airlines back in March in April.

It’s been a rough time for the aviation industry in 2020 – all of travel, really. And it’s been a trickle-down effect in the world of air travel, cruises, railroads, even car rentals.

It’s not just tickets. It’s the newspaper stand near the gate where you buy magazines or a book to read on the flight. It’s the restaurant next to the pier before you get on your cruise. It’s the cabbie picking you up outside Union Station after your train arrives.

But on this National Aviation Day, we must remember that the travel industry is resilient. Always has been. Always will be. It has survived world wars, economic hardships and the Sept. 11 attacks, and it now battles a deadly global virus.

And while we certainly can (and still will) complain about the price of fares or the ridiculous ancillary fees that have us paying an extra $100 to $200 to change a seat or change a flight and the lack of amenities, can you imagine life without it? Can you imagine NOT taking a flight to get to a destination as quickly as possible? Can you imagine NOT going on a relaxing cruise? Can you imagine not boarding a train, or renting a car, and NOT going cross-country to see America the way it was supposed to be seen?

This is why we must continue to appreciate travel in all forms, especially air travel. President Franklin D. Roosevelt certainly recognized that more than 80 years ago when he made National Aviation Day a federal observance in 1939. And it was no coincidence that he chose August 19 – the birthday of Orville Wright, the pilot of the Wright Flyer that took off and flew for 12 seconds, making history and creating what eventually become its own industry.

Roosevelt’s initial intent was to honor the Wright Brothers while at the same time stimulating interest in aviation. This was in 1939, and while we all think of travel and fun when we think aviation, we forget that there are so many tentacles to the industry. We forget that two years after FDR’s proclamation we were in World War II, desperately needing our great military airmen to defend our nation.

Airplane travel was actually last to the table – unless you count space travel, which is certainly in the aviation family. Think of what must have gone through the minds of the Wright Brothers and everything that went into what we know today from what was likely a simple thought back at the turn of the century – sort of like, ‘Hey, we have train travel over land, we have ship travel over water, why can’t we do it over the skies?’

It’s an amazing adventure to think about. All of travel.

The best part is, it’s an amazing adventure that continues today and will continue to evolve over time.

And we’re all the better for it.

Video: American Airline Passenger Recounts Sitting on Tarmac for 7 Hours (Inside Edition)

American Airline Passenger Recounts Sitting on Tarmac for 7 Hours



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