In 2002 a proclamation put in motion by President Bush would later be adopted by the Senate to make Aug. 16 National Airborne day. The date coincides with the U.S. Army’s first paratrooper test jump in 1940 at Fort Benning, Ga. The successful jump confirmed the practice of inserting forces behind battle lines by parachute could become a reality.

Although parachutes were used by troops in World War I, they became a significant factor in combat during World War II. While paratroopers are currently in use, their value peaked during World War II. The first U.S airborne operation would begin a little bit over two years later when the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion was launched in North Africa in Nov. of 1942.

Currently, two airborne divisions operate In the U.S. Army. The 82nd Airborne Division out of Ft. Bragg, N.C., which began as an infantry division.

The second and still active airborne division had a short-lived beginning. During World War I, the 101st Airborne Division organized for a short while on Nov. 2, 1918. However, the war ended shortly after. During World War II, the Screaming Eagles were in action again on Aug. 16, 1942, at Camp Claiborne, La. They currently make their home at Ft. Campbell, Ky.

Both units have served around the world in combat, peacekeeping, and humanitarian missions. U.S. Army paratroopers represent one of the most expertly trained forces in the U.S. Army.

Today, there are thousands of airborne forces that are jump-rated and can be deployed. These include Special Forces units such as the U.S Rangers, Navy Seals, and Green Berets. There are also many jump-qualified support and training units that are in full operation.

If you are looking to do a little sailing through the skies yourself, check out many of the local paragliding operations in the valley. For parachuting/skydiving, there are a few operations in the Boise area.

National Aviation Day

This holiday was first observed on Aug. 19, 1939, when proclaimed by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It is an annual observance when our nation honors the development of aviation. It also happens to be the anniversary of Orville Wright’s birthday. Orville was the youngest of the Wright brothers, renowned American aviation pioneers.

While it does not have the status of a public holiday, the flag of the United States is required to be displayed on all government buildings and individuals are encouraged to display the national flag on Aug. 19.