Since the first aircraft were built pilots wanted to make them go faster, higher and further. As new aircraft were developed a new sport evolved – air racing.
The very first air race took place in Reims, France during the Grand Week of the Champaign in 1909. Glenn Curtiss beat the second place finisher by five seconds winning the James Bennett Trophy and was named “Champion Air Racer of the World”
Over the years the event was held at different locations. In 1934 an England to Australia air race was started with Scott and Campbell Black winning the race in a DeHavilland Comet aircraft.
From 1913 to 1931 the Schneider Trophy seaplane race took place and was significant in advancing aircraft design, aerodynamics and engine technology. The results of these advancements would show themselves in the aircraft of World War II.
From 1921 to 1949 the United States held the National Air Meets (later known as the National Air Races), and from 1929 on included the Women’s Air Derby. For thirty years, from 1947 until 1977, the “Powder Puff Derby” (the All Woman Transcontinental Air Race) was run. Today it is known as simply the “Air Race Classic.”
Bill Stead, a Nevada rancher, pilot and hydroplane racer organized the first Reno Air Races at a small dirt strip. Soon the races were moved to the Reno Stead Airport and have been held there every September since 1966. The race includes six classes of aircraft: Unlimiteds, Formula One aircraft, Sport BiPlanes, AT-6s, Sport Aircraft and Jets.
Currently Red Bull sponsors a series of air races called the “Red Bull Air Race World Series” in which pilots fly through a series of pylons between which they must perform certain aerobatic maneuvers. The events are normally held over water near large cities, and the event attracts large crowds bringing a lot of media interest for the first time in decades.
Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!