National Aviation Day: My Memorable Aviation Firsts

Today is National Aviation Day, celebrating the history and development of aviation in the United States (and worldwide for that matter). It’s also fittingly Orville Wright’s birthday, who would have been only 141 today. Franklin D. Rooselvelt established the holiday in 1939 via presidential proclamation.

Someone earlier today tweeted the question, “What was your first flight?†Mine was in April 1982 from Chicago O’Hare to Phoenix on an American Airlines Boeing 727-200. I remember barely being able to sleep the night before out of sheer excitement. The return to Chicago was equally exciting and it was on a DC-10 – an aircraft that was #1 in my book for a very long time, eventually being replaced by the 747.

Some of my other memorable aviation firsts:

  • I flew a 747 for the first time in June 1990 on America West Airlines from Phoenix to Las Vegas. I was the only passenger in first class.
  • I was onboard the inaugural United Airlines Boeing 777 flight from Denver to Chicago in 1995, as well as United’s inaugural 787 Dreamliner in 2012.
  • My first mileage run was in 1988 on a same-day Chicago to Detroit turn. I mostly did it just to fly, but I was also already hooked on racking up miles.
  • My first international flight was from Washington Dulles to Paris in 1991. I was originally supposed to be on the nonstop from Chicago that cancelled. When I very immaturely complained about it at Dulles (how can an 18-year old be a “DYKWIA?â€), I was given an upgrade to first class seat 2A, completely bypassing business class. I was a Premier at the time in Mileage Plus.

And finally, my most memorable moment in aviation was my first solo flight in a Cessna 172 in August 1989.

a man standing next to a small plane Yes… I really was that skinny, those are indeed high tops and I was sporting a mullet. [Sigh]

What are some of your memorable firsts in aviation?

Related posts:

Trip Report: United Airlines Inaugural 777 Flight from Denver to Chicago

Flight Review: United Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner Inaugural

Four Reasons I Love Window Seats When I Fly


  1. Great post!

    My first flight: LAX-IAD on an AA 707 in 1979. SO glad I got to fly that plane before the airlines took them out of service.

    First 1st Class flight: PHX-DSM on a Hughes Airwest DC-9 in 1980. They bumped us up due to being oversold in coach.

    First widebody flight: LAX-OGG on a DL L-1011 in 1989.

    First int’l flight: SLC-YYC in 1988 going to the Calgary Olympics.

    • @Jimmy: Ugh, that picture. 🙁
      @Matt: Thanks! I’m soooo jealous you flew on a 707. I was happy to get a DC-8 under my belt before they went away.

  2. First Mileage Run 09/19/09 ORD-DEN-PHX-DEN-ORD. Was a very memorable day for me, thanks to my best friend who got me hooked on them.

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