National Aviation Day in Thailand Date in the current year: January 13, 2024

National Aviation Day in Thailand National Aviation Day (Wan Kanbin Haeng Chat) is celebrated in Thailand on January 13 every year. It was established to commemorate the first demonstration flight in Thailand that was open to the general public.

The history of aviation in Thailand dates back to the reign of King Vajiravudh (Rama VI), who ruled Siam from 1910 to 1925. In 1911, the Royal Bangkok Sports Club served as the site of an aviation meet, where Belgian aviator Charles van den Born made the first ever exhibition flight in Siam in a biplane designed by Henri Farman. It was an exclusive event attended by the Siamese royal family, including the king, and high-ranking army officers.

The next year, three Thai officers were sent to France for pilot training. In the meantime, the Ministry of Defense purchased several biplanes and monoplanes for the Royal Siamese Air Force, which was officially established in 1913. For the first two years of the air force’s existence, part of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club’s grounds where the first flight had taken place served as the first airfield in Siam (Sa Pratum Airfield).

The first exhibition flight in Siam that was open to the general public took place on January 13, 1914, with the king once again in attendance. The anniversary of this flight is regarded as the birthday of Thai aviation and celebrated as National Aviation Day.

Around the same time, the ministry of defense found the Sa Pratum Airfield unsuitable for its purpose because it was too narrow and prone to inundation, and ordered the construction of a new airport north of Bangkok. Don Mueang Airport was officially opened as a Royal Siamese Air Force Base in March 1914. Today, it functions as an international airport and serves the Bangkok Metropolitan Region.

In the late 1920s, the aeronautical workshop of the Royal Siamese Air Force designed and built the country’s first own aircraft, a two-seat light bomber aircraft named the Paribatra (also spelled Baribatra, Boripatra or Boriphat) after the then Minister of Defense and King Prajadhipok’s younger half-brother. It made its first flight on June 23, 1927. The first Thai fighter aircraft, the single-seat biplane Prajadhipok, was built in 1929. However, it remained experimental and was never mass-produced.

Today, Thailand has several scheduled airlines: Bangkok Airways, Nok Air, Thai AirAsia, Thai AirAsia X, Thai Airways International (the country’s flag carrier), Thai Lion Air, Thai Summer Airways, and Thai VietJet Air, as well as a number of charter and cargo airlines. The country has 39 commercial airports, 10 of which serve international flights. Don Mueang International Airport is the oldest operating airport in Asia and one of the oldest international airports in the world.

National Aviation Day was established in May 1994 and celebrated for the first time on January 13, 1995. It is an official observance regulated by the Thai government but not a public holiday. National Aviation Day should not be confused with Royal Thai Air Force Day, observed annually on April 9.

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