Washington's Airports Honor 100 Years of Flight

Published: December 10, 2003



Nearly 100 years ago, the first human took to the skies in a heavier-than-air aircraft, and since then, hundreds of millions have followed over the years. Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles International Airports have helped travelers reach the skies for more than 60 years when National Airport opened in 1941, followed by Dulles International in 1962.

During the month of December, the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority will sponsor a number of observances and events celebrating the world of aviation and specifically the history of aviation in our region. A highlight of the month of celebration will be "Customer Appreciation Day" on December 17th, the actual date of the first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, when Wilbur and Orville Wright launched their aircraft.

Said James E. Bennett, President/CEO of the Airports Authority, " In December of 1903, when the first aircraft lifted off for that short flight of 12 seconds and 120 feet, who could have imagined what lay ahead. Today, flying is a common means of transportation and airports are frequent destinations to all of us.

"But what is just as important as this great technological accomplishment is how interwoven aviation is into the very fabric of our world. Aviation is now an extremely important part of our individual lives, economy, society, and quality of life. That is also what we are celebrating this month."

Dulles and National Airports alone, directly employ over 26,000 people, generate $4.6 billion in business revenue and contribute $486 million in state and local taxes.

The public is invited to participate in the celebration by:


  • Touring the Exhibit Hall at Reagan National Airport, which features exhibits on the history of the Airport and the site on which it was built.
  • Viewing artwork in a special Centennial of Flight Art Competition among the Airports Authority's four partnership schools:

Carl Sandburg Middle School, Fairfax County, Virginia
Potomac High School, Prince Georges County, Maryland
Stone Bridge High School, Loudoun County, Virginia
Woodrow Wilson Senior High School, District of Columbia

The student artwork will be on display for a month at Reagan National Airport starting on December 15th in the lower level of Terminals B and C.

The winning entries will be announced on December 11th in a special ceremony in the Terminal A Lobby. The first, second and third place winners will receive U.S. Savings Bonds in the amount of $500, $250 and $100 respectively and all will receive a replica of the Wright Flyer. Honorable mention winners will receive gift baskets from the airports' concessionaires.


  • Participating in special promotions of the shops and restaurants at the airports during the month of December.

On December 12th, airport concessions will provide a commemorative Centennial of Flight pin (while supplies last) for customers who purchase $7 or more at airport businesses.

December 17th, the actual date of the first flight will be designated "Customer Appreciation Day" at Dulles and National Airports as part of a nation-wide airport recognition of their passengers. Wilbur and Orville Wright impersonators will hand out food and beverage coupons from 9 a.m.-noon at Reagan National and 2-5 p.m. at Dulles International Airports.