“The stars seemed near enough to touch and never before have I seen so many. I always believed the lure of flying is the lure of beauty, but I was sure of it that night,” said Amelia Earhart, the first woman and second person to fly solo across the Atlantic.

Today, on National Aviation Day, we celebrate the history of humans’ attempts to touch the stars, as Earhart did. Named a national holiday as a result of a presidential proclamation first made by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939, National Aviation Day is celebrated on August 19 in honor of Orville Wright’s birthday. Now, over 100 years after the Wright Brothers flew the first flying machine in 1903, aviation is a part of our everyday lives, allowing us to travel across the globe in a matter of hours and explore the wonders and mysteries of space.

Today we celebrate the history of aviation with a look back into our archive at a 1936 letter Earhart wrote to Marie Bullock, founder of the Academy of American Poets. Bullock had asked Earhart to share her favorite poem, but Earhart replied that she could not comply with Bullock’s request, saying, “I should feel a traitor to my personal definition of beauty if I picked a few lines to cherish above all the rest.”

Have your own celebration of National Aviation Day by checking out Earhart’s letter below and browsing our selection of poems about space and flight.

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browse poems about flight

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Amelia Earhart 1936 letter