International Civil Aviation Day

International Civil Aviation Day - Thursday, December 7, 2023

Special Interest Activities

On December 7 we celebrate International Civil Aviation Day to acknowledge the flight industry’s influence on modern life. It’s incredible to think that in less than 24 hours you can transport your body to pretty much anywhere in the world. Flying has made the world a much smaller place and had  a huge impact on our lives. Today we celebrate the impact of flying and are thankful that it has opened so many doors for all of us.

In 1901 something was accomplished that hadn’t happened in the history of mankind, a man flew upon a glider and covered a respectable distance in a manmade device that was not held aloft by lighter-than-air gas. The skepticism that greeted this event was profound, with people all over the world saying the Wright Brothers were more liars than fliers, a claim that would be refuted by a demonstration of what would be the most important aeronautics event in the world. International Civil Aviation Day celebrates the science, art, and sport of aviation that grew out of this initial glide, and the men and women who push the frontiers of it today.

History of International Civil Aviation Day

Civil Aviation is incredibly important to the world we know and love today, and touches all of us in ways we can’t realize. When you order a package overnight from Amazon, odds are good that it’s being transported from their warehouse to your front door in the hold of a cargo plane. When you travel across the country or even around the world to join friends and relatives for vacation or holiday celebrations, you’re traveling on a craft that got its start in the minds of Orville & Wilbur Wright.

But air transport can be perilous, and the International Civil Aviation Organization focuses on the safety, efficiency, and regulations that surround the entire industry. ICAO organized International Civil Aviation Day in 1944 and began a campaign to have it become an officially recognized UN holiday, a campaign that would finally see it’s fruition in 1996. Civil Aviation includes everything from sports fliers to large commercial aircraft traversing the sky with the essentials of daily living.

How to celebrate International Civil Aviation Day

Celebrating International Civil Aviation Day can happen in a number of ways, from the simple joys of ordering a package the night before and opening it up the next day with the appreciation that it was carried in the belly of a great cargo plane, to booking a flight to an exotic location to celebrate the speed and efficiency with which we can cross the globe. Throughout the country, there are also museums dedicated to aviation, and there’s some great history to be learned by strolling those august halls. So get out there on International Civil Aviation Day and see what the plane has brought to your life!

History of International Civil Aviation Day

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialist organization within the United Nations, established December 7 as the day to celebrate the impact that civil aviation has had on the world. Tourism and business have both been changed forever due to flying, not to mention the cultural connections that have been enabled. 

The first International Civil Aviation Day was held in 1994 as part of ICAO’s 50th anniversary and in 1996 the United Nations General Assembly officially recognized 7 December as International Civil Aviation Day. They agreed to try and use the day to reinforce the importance of civil aviation to social and economic development, and to recognize the unique role the International Civil Aviation Organization plays in helping countries to cooperate and bring to life a truly global transit network.

As the UN has now adopted Agenda 2030, a pledge for the reduction of pollution that comes with the end goal of a new era in global sustainable development, the importance of aviation as an engine of global connectivity remains just as relevant. As such, in recognition of ICAO’s 75th anniversary, the council selected the theme “75 Years of Connecting the World” for the 2019 celebrations, which will run through to  2024. 

International Civil Aviation Day is a day to enjoy the extraordinary things humans are capable of and to look at the future, as we continue to innovate and bring cultures closer together.

International Civil Aviation Day timeline


First round the world flight

Eight U.S. Army Air Service pilots and mechanics flew the globe by air for the first time, taking 175 days to do so.

September 17, 1908

First airplane fatality

Passenger Thomas Etholen Selfridge died after a crash during a flight demonstration at Fort Myer, Virginia

December 17, 1903

First airplane flight

Orville Wright performed his first flight near Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina

September 19, 1783

First balloon flight

Joseph-Michael and Jacques-Ètienne Montgolfier demonstrated the first flight of their hot-air balloon.

International Civil Aviation Day FAQs

When is International Civil Aviation Day?

December 7.

What is the role of the ICAO?

The purpose of the ICAO is to adopt regulations and best practices for the aviation industry.


What does ICAO mean?

International Civil Aviation Organization.

5 Facts About Airplanes

  1. They are sturdy

    Some planes can fly for more than five hours after one of their engines goes out.

  2. Airplane air is drier than normal

    So remember to keep hydrated and moisturized!

  3. A Boeing 747 is more fuel-efficient than your car.

    At 1 gallon of fuel every second, A Boeing 747 offers 0.2 miles per gallon of fuel.

  4. Takeoff and landing are the most dangerous times.

    About 61 percent of all fatal accidents that occur on planes happen during these times specifically.

  5. They are all around us

    On average, about 8000 airplanes are flying over the world’s skies at any given minute.

How to Observe International Civil Aviation Day

  1. Thank a civil aviation worker

    One of the most direct—and profound —ways to show your appreciation for a civil aviation worker is to tell them. Pilots and flight attendants may come to mind first, but don’t forget about air traffic controllers, who keep the skies and runways safe for all of us, and baggage handlers, who somehow defy logic and ensure baggage ends up at its final destination. If you are friends with an aviation worker, give them a thanks and a pat on the back this December 7.

  2. Consider employment in the civil aviation industry

    If you’re in the market for a job, try doing a little research on the many position available in this industry. You’d be surprised by the wide demand for skills. From labor intensive outside work to marketing and advertising office gigs, you’ll likely find something that fits your needs. Plus, the perks of working for an airline can’t be understated (free airline miles? Yes please).

  3. Get involved

    If you’re passionate about helping nations further develop socially and economically, there are many ways you can get involved with the ICAO. The current theme for International Civil Aviation Dayis “Working Together to Ensure No Country is Left behind,” and the ICAO will be holding meetings, events and meetups to discuss how to push this agenda.

Why Civil Aviation Day is important

  1. It gives us jobs

    Civil aviation is more than just pilots and flight attendants. The aviation industry includes commercial carriers (think FedEx or United Airlines), private jets, air traffic control, airport management (those nice people who take your bags), manufacturing (Boeing), maintenance, and several more offshoots. All told, the industry supports more than 10 million jobs in the US alone every year.

  2. It’s super futuristic

    The aviation industry has given us some of the greatest inventions of the 20th century, and this innovation is ongoing. Airbus, for example, is currently planning its “Smarter Skies” initiative, which it hopes by 2050 will: Decrease flight time of every flight by 13 minutes; save nine million tons of excess fuel every year; and avoid 28 million tons of avoidable CO2 emission annually.

  3. It can build countries

    Figures from the UN show that in today’s global economy, for every $100 produced and every 100 jobs created by the civil aviation industry, an additional $350 and 610 jobs are generated in some other industry. So, it seems the road to prosperity is hardly a road at all, and more like a new runway.

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