Man has only conquered the air in the past three centuries, and particularly the last hundred years, but it has already become a well established milieu for adventure tourism.
Exhibit 1 illustrates the main elements of the modern air sports field.
Exhibit 1: The main air sports
Most of these forms of air sport have only really developed in the past two or three decades, with growing numbers of people becoming active participants.
However, we also need to recognise that air sports have been spectator sports virtually since the Wright Brothers first took to the air in 1903. For example:
Air racing, which began with a competition held in Reims, France in 1909. Between 1918 and 1939 air racing became an established spectator sport, particularly in the USA, with competitions with large prize money and prestige such as the Schnieder Trophy and the Bennett and Mitchell Trophy in the USA. Air racing stimulated developments in aircraft design, helping in the evolution of the Spitfire fighter for instance. Women also played a leading role in air racing in the 1920s and 1930s with their own competitions. While there are still air races they do not attract the public attention they did in the early years of aviation.
Pioneering and endurance flights, where new records and routes were established. Crowds always gathered to see the beginning and end of these flights, from Bleriots’ crossing of the English Channel in 1909 to the pioneering flights of Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart, for example. Such flights have become rarer in recent years as most of the main challenges have now been achieved.
In both air racing and the field of endurance flights, their popularity between WWI and WWII may have had something to do with the psychological heritage of WWI and the need for escapist diversions during the grim years of the world recession in the 1930s.
It could also be argued that the motive