From the earliest theories of flight to every contraption that promised lift-off, our imaginations have been captured by the idea of soaring through the atmosphere. November celebrates Aviation History Month, a month to recognize all the achievements of the men and women who made air travel possible. Explore aviation history with your group this month and watch your programs take flight with the activity ideas below.
FAMOUS AVIATORS – From the Wright brothers to Sally Ride, there are many famous aviators who paved the way to modern day flight. Put together a small presentation about famous aviators and share with the group. Discuss the adversities that these pilots faced in the era in which they lived. Can your group guess which pilot you’re discussing before you reveal their name? Here’s a short list of famous aviators you might want to include: Charles Lindbergh, Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Amelia Earhart, Eddie Rickenbacker, Orville & Wilbur Wright, Chuck Yeager, Billy Mitchell, Wiley Post, Jimmy Doolittle, Sally Ride, Richard Byrd, John Glenn, Alan Shepherd.
TALK TO A PILOT – Reach out to a local flying club or ask one or two pilots to speak to your group. Ask the speakers to share why they pursued flying, either as a career or a hobby. What is it like inside the cockpit? Also ask them about their first flight – how it felt and where they went. Open it up for questions from your group afterwards.
AIRPLANE REMINISCING – Explore flight during your next reminiscing group. Ask members to recall their first flight. Where did they go? How long was the flight? Do they remember which airline or airport they traveled through? What did they wear? What kind of food was served? Where did they sit? Has anyone never been up in a plane? Which member has flown the most or the farthest?
THEN & NOW FLIGHT – Continue reminiscing with your group by comparing what flying was like in the 1940s and 1950s to what it’s like to fly today. For example, prior to Sept. 11, 2001, security was minimal, family and friends could meet you at the gate, and visitors could watch planes take off and land at their leisure. Other changes to note are what people wore 50 years ago, compared with what people typically wear today: People used to view flying as a luxury and would dress up for the occasion. Today, people view flying as the quickest way to travel to their destination and dress more comfortably.
GUESS THE AIRPORT – Look up the initials of commonly used airports and encourage members to guess the airport using the initials. You can do this as a large group activity, writing the airport initials on a whiteboard, or create a Microsoft Word document that members can complete at their leisure.
PAPER AIRPLANES LANDING STRIP – Bring back the nostalgia of paper airplanes with your group. Start by instructing members on how to fold a piece of paper into an airplane. You can find patterns and instructions on the internet if you need them. Use masking tape or colored painter’s tape to create a “landing strip” on the floor, about five feet long. Mark off each foot with another piece of tape and assign a point value to each foot (one foot = 10 points, two feet = 20 points, etc.). Once participants have crafted their paper airplane, let each participant have a turn at flying it towards the landing strip. The goal is to see which plane soars the furthest. Play a few rounds and keep score, or just play for fun.
CRAFTS THAT FLY – Continue the fun with flying crafts and create these fun helicopters with your group. Tie it into Thanksgiving by asking members to design what they’re thankful for as the helicopter logo. They can also write it on the side. This is something that members can give grandchildren or great-grandchildren to play with during their visit. You could also set out supplies and instructions for families to do together while they visit over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
IN-FLIGHT MOVIE – Feature a film about planes during your next matinee movie, such as The Spirit of Saint Louis or the animated film Planes. Serve in-flight snacks and beverages, such as peanuts, cookies, chips, soda, and water.
PACK A SUITCASE CHALLENGE – Divide participants into two or three teams, depending on group size. Start by asking the group to share what kinds of items you would need for a week-long trip, and what is the best way to pack them for a plane ride. Challenge the teams to then pack a suitcase as if they’re actually going on a one-week trip. Provide each team with a similar-sized carry-on suitcase and similar items that one would need for a long trip. Suggested items include shoes, socks, t-shirts, pants, a jacket, and toiletries – enough so that the clothes will need to be folded neatly in order to fit in the suitcase. Purchase such items at a thrift store and donate afterwards, or ask your team to lend items for the activity. If you can’t come up with enough items for a few teams, then each team can compete against the clock.
VISIT AN AVIATION MUSEUM – If you have an aviation museum nearby, this is the month to plan a visit. If not, then look for a museum that might have a section about airplanes or travel. Other field trips that relate to planes could include dining at a restaurant near an airport so that members can see planes take off and land, or just take a scenic drive to the airport and back. Wherever you’re headed, give participants “tickets” that you make in advance and check their “ID” as they board the bus.
AVIATION HISTORY – This month wouldn’t be complete without exploring the history of aviation. Search for a documentary about aviation at your local library, or find a podcast that you can share with your members. Afterwards, lead a discussion about the documentary and spend time reminiscing with the group.
NOW BOARDING TRIVIA
- What is the busiest airport in the United States: Chicago, L`os Angeles, or Atlanta? Atlanta
- From Franklin D. Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, each president has had an airport named after him, except for one. Which president does not? Richard Nixon
- What is the biggest U.S. airline – Delta, American, or Southwest? Delta
- On a jet plane, what is the cabin between economy and first class called? Business class
- On December 24, 1963, the name of Idlewild Airport in New York City was named as a memorial to which president? John F. Kennedy
- Which pilot was the first to fly solo over the Atlantic Ocean? Charles Lindbergh
- Which aircraft has wings, but no motor: the blimp, the glider, or the helicopter? Glider
- What is the official air traffic control name for the aircraft carrying the President of the United States? Air Force One
- Where did Orville Wright pilot the first successful flight of an aircraft? Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
- Which famous female pilot disappeared during her ambitious flight around the world in 1937? Amelia Earhart
NOW BOARDING THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“You haven’t seen a tree until you’ve seen its shadow from the sky.” ~ Amelia Earhart
“Now Boarding” was written by Erin McCart. Copyright 2019 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
Reprint Policy: To reprint or republish all or portions of this entry, you must acquire written permission and agree to link back to the original source. Please contact us at [email protected] to obtain permission.