National Aviation Day: Former Astronaut To Speak

Don Thomas, an astronaut who flew four space shuttle missions, the first of which was on Columbia in July 1994, was to speak at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina on Sunday at an event marking National Aviation Day.

Thomas is a decorated NASA astronaut with four space flights under his belt. He flew three missions on the Columbia, and one on Discovery. His NASA bio notes he has logged more than 1,040 hours in space. He served as the International Space Station Program Scientist overseeing NASA experiments performed on the ISS and retired from NASA in 2007.

The Associated Press reported that Thomas was to speak about how he became an astronaut and what it’s like to live and work in space. National Aviation Day marks the 141st birthday of Orville Wright, the first person to fly. National Aviation Day was established in 1939 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt by presidential pronouncement. Wright was alive at the time of the day’s establishment and would live nine more years. The remembrance always takes place on Aug. 19. Orville Wright and his brother Wilbur were pioneers in aviation with Orville’s first flight taking place December 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.

The First Flight Society’s website reported that Thomas’ talk was to be titled “Living and Working in Space” and that after the presentation, he would participate in an experiment “Exploring Liquids in Space” where children and adults can experience first hand how liquids act in space.

Thomas’ noon presentation was hosted by the First Flight Society and the National Park Service.