Challenge Coins For National Aviation Day And National Airborne Day

Celebrating flying, flyers and the brave paratroopers who jump out of aircraft

Humans have been fascinated by flight for centuries. The ancient Chinese flew kites to investigate the weather. Early inventors such as Leonardo da Vinci developed theories about flying. They created gliders and balloons, but nothing that allowed humans to control the flight.

Physics posed a challenge to early pioneers such as George Cayley and the Montgolfier brothers. From the Montgolfiers' early hot air balloons to the fixed-wing designs of Mr. Cayley, their work would inspire Orville and Wilbur Wright, who invented, built, and flew the world's first successful motor-operated airplane in 1903. Aviation has significantly evolved through the years, thanks to advances in technology and design.

To honor the past and the evolution of flight, National Airborne Day takes place on August 16th,  and National Aviation Day takes place on August 19th. National Airborne Day is a celebration of the airborne divisions of the U.S.  Armed Forces. National Aviation Day honors the pioneers of human flight. What better way to celebrate flight than with a custom challenge coin?

The History of Aviation

The history of aviation dates back much further than the Wright brothers' first flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. People have dreamed of flying and ways to achieve it for centuries. Technology allowed those dreams to become a reality. 

Samuel Langley designed a steam-powered model known as the aerodrome. Langley tested his design without success in 1894. The steam-driven design made an unmanned 90-second flight of slightly more than half a mile. He and his team also built a gasoline-powered uncrewed model that flew successfully twice in 1901. 

In 1903, with an improved engine, Langley attempted to take flight yet again. After two failed attempts, he made no further tests. Days later, the Wright brothers conducted their flights in North Carolina.

The Wright brothers began testing their ideas of flight in a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio. The brothers tried their designs with gliders first before incorporating an engine. Joined by Charles Edward Taylor, a machinist, they built an engine light enough and powerful enough to fly.

In December 1903, the group tested their machine, which only flew for 3.5 seconds. Their next attempt, on December 17th, 1903, flew for 120 feet, marking the first controlled flight of a powered aircraft. As technology changed, aviation became a valued asset for the military and travel, allowing humans to fly across oceans, worldwide, and into space.

National Airborne Day

President George W. Bush established National Airborne Day in August 2002. The day celebrates the military's airborne troops, their duties, and the military's airborne history. The first official Army parachute jump took place at Fort Benning, Georgia on August 16, 1940. 

The 82nd Airborne Division was the first Airborne Division, serving in major battles in World War II. The division fought in Sicily and Italy, as well as participating in the Allied invasion of Normandy on D-Day. The 101st Airborne Division was established in 1942. Like the 82nd, the 101st Division parachuted into Normandy on June 6, 1944, engaging in intense battles with German forces. That same year, the unit was dropped into the Netherlands, capturing the city of Eindhoven. The US Army's Center of Military History and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum recognized the division as a liberating unit in 1998.

These soldiers are some of the most well-trained forces in the United States Army. Airborne troops provide support in combat, peacekeeping, and humanitarian missions. National Airborne Day is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of these brave soldiers.

National Aviation Day

President Franklin D. Roosevelt established National Aviation Day in 1939. The date was chosen to honor the anniversary of Orville Wright's birthday. The day is often marked with activities that encourage an interest in aviation.

Celebrating Flight

There are many ways to observe National Aviation Day and National Airborne Day. Find out more details about the early inventors who dreamed of flying and the great minds behind the first flights. Read memoirs and other books about aviation pioneers. Find the history behind our military's airborne divisions. There are also many great aviation documentaries, both about the past and the modern era of flying.

You can also visit one of the many aviation museums across the country. Book a flight, go skydiving, build a model plane, or find out how you can learn to fly. There is no wrong way to memorialize National Aviation Day or National Airborne Day, but a thoughtful challenge coin is a great way to commemorate the day.

When designing a custom challenge coin, create a coin that represents aviation. Both National Aviation Day and National Airborne Day provide plenty of inspiration to create something memorable, unique, and fun. Include details that have meaning, such as wings, parachutes, your favorite aircraft, or scenes of planes in action. A custom challenge coin can flawlessly honor the past, present, and future. 

Include elements that will make your design stand out. Adding color is the perfect way to elevate the look of any coin. Contrasting colors will make logos, images, and text stand out. Include the date, images, logos, and symbols that have meaning. Custom challenge coins come in any shape or size, so get creative. Think about the purpose of your coin and include elements that have meaning and importance to the recipients. They also make a great addition to any merchandise collection. 

National Airborne Day and National Aviation Day are right around the corner, and we’re ready to honor everything about aviation. Head to your local airport and watch some take-offs, book a flight somewhere, or learn more about the fascinating history of aviation and the airborne divisions of the armed forces. Celebrate the day with a custom challenge coin. Check out our gallery for inspiration for your design.

Jesse Daugherty

Jesse Daugherty


Hello, I'm Jesse Daugherty, a music enthusiast, sports aficionado, and an avid supporter of the arts. I'm a writer and content creator. For the past 5 years, I've shared my knowledge of custom challenge coins and other promotional products, exploring their designs, meaning, and purpose.