© 2011 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

06/30/11 7:31 PM ET

100 years of growth

The Padres and San Diego celebrate the centennial of Naval aviation

The deck of an aircraft carrier, lined with fighter aircraft, is a common sight these days. Located in one of the largest military communities in the country, San Diegan's are certainly familiar with this image.

It was here, in January of 1911, that Glenn H. Curtiss opened his flight school at North Island, opening the nation's eyes to the potential of flight. Soon after, on May 8, 2011, the Navy ordered its first aircraft, bringing about the beginning of Naval Aviation.

This year, we celebrate the centennial of Naval aviation, something that holds a special place in the hearts of San Diegans.

Home to a lengthy list of aircraft carriers and the sight of the 1986 hit film 'Top Gun,' San Diego is synonymous with Naval aviation. Over the last 100 years, the development of Navy's aerial capabilities has gone hand-in-hand with the development of the city.

Still an emerging town at the turn of the century, San Diego's population grew in congruence with the job market that was created largely due to aircraft manufacturing. In 1935, Rueben H. Fleet, relocated Consolidated Aircraft to San Diego, opening a plant that employed over 40 thousand workers through World War II. These developments ushered the city into the modern era and brought San Diego to where it is today, currently home to several aircraft manufacturers.

On May 22, the Padres will commemorate the centennial of Naval aviation while honoring the entire military branch at U.S. Navy Appreciation Day. The first of six special Sunday's dedicated to recognizing the efforts of a specific branch of the armed services, the Padres will also celebrate the U.S. Army (June 12), the U.S. Marine Corps (June 26), the California National Guard (July 31), the U.S. Coast Guard (August 21) and U.S. Air Force (September 18).

Navy personnel are not a rare site at PETCO Park, as they are regularly recognized prior to first pitch. It was just over a month ago that the Navy's parachute team, the "Leap Frogs," made their grand entrance as part of Military Opening Day. And who can forget FanFest at PETCO Park, where fans were able to watch the Navy commemorate the centennial with a flyover that featured nearly 200 aircraft over the bay.

Sunday, May 22 will be no exception. As part of the festivities surrounding U.S. Navy Appreciation Day, the Padres have made plans to honor Navy personnel as part of a pregame ceremony. The focus will be on the centennial celebration and the Navy's deep rooted ties to the San Diego community.

It's a day no San Diegan will want to miss.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.