The prehistory of air racing
The Wright brothers made their first
flights in 1903. It was natural that airplanes would
eventually be used for competitive activities. During the
first years of aviation many prizes were offered, but
most were for different pioneering flights, such as the
Archdeacon price for the first closed circle flight of
one kilometre or the Daily Mail prize for the first
crossing of the English Channel.
There was also soon a lucrative market for air displays.
Several pilots toured the towns of Europe and the USA and
people paid high admission prices to see them fly.
It was of course impossible to have races without
competitors, but already as early as in 1904 it was
attempted to organize the first air race! Below you will
find a list of premature failed efforts to organize air
The June-September 1904 St Louis
1907 St Louis Air Race
The December 1907 L'Auto
The July 1908 Concours
d'Aviation de Spa
The January-April 1909 Concours
d'Aviation de Monaco
... but in 1909 there were finally enough
planes around to organize competitions!