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Where to make a flap over National Aviation Day

A Caproni Ca. 36, shown at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, was an Italian heavy bomber during World War I.

Next to playing baseball, complaining about the hassles of air travel seems to be a national pastime. But Aug. 19, is both National Aviation Day and Orville Wright’s birthday, so let’s take a break from griping and spend a few moments celebrating the magic of flight.

Here are five places to celebrate:

1. The National Park Service will waive entry fees and offer a full day of activities Aug. 19 at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, N.C. Events include a Junior Flight Ranger Program, readings, a kite-making workshop and family-oriented lectures about how Orville and Wilbur Wright solved the problem of human flight. There will also be ranger-led walks to where the Wright brothers made their historic flight.  

2. At the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is offering a free day of activities on Aug. 20. Visitors may build and fly egg-carton gliders and meet astronaut Gregory H. Johnson, who traveled to the International Space Station earlier this summer as the pilot of space shuttle Endeavour.

3. Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Ore., is not only home to the world's largest plane, the Spruce Goose, and more than 200 other aircraft and spacecraft from various eras, but earlier this summer the museum opened the first aviation-themed waterpark. Slides snake out from a 747 airplane on top of the building and wed aviation education with fun. On Aug. 20-21 the museum is hosting a hot air balloon rally.

4. Located on and in the 900-foot-long aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City is a national historical landmark with a collection that includes a Concorde and aircraft from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. NASA’s traveling Journey to Tomorrow exhibit, which is housed in a 53-foot-long walk-through trailer, will be on-site Aug. 19.

5. Then, of course, there’s the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. The museum houses the world’s largest collection of historic air and spacecraft and has a Wright brothers gallery displaying the original 1903 Wright Flyer, the brothers’ letter to the Smithsonian asking for advice and information about flight, a Wright brothers-built bicycle, the brothers’ stopwatch and other Wright-related artifacts.

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Find more by Harriet Baskas on StuckatTheAirport.com and follower her on Twitter.