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Adeventure In The Air – The World Of Air Sports

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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 for such air sport spectators was more to do with the ghoulish anticipation of crashes than any higher motive. Crashes and fatalities were an everyday occurrence in the pioneering days of flying.

While air racing and endurance flights have lost their popularity as spectator sports in recent years, three early types of flying have maintained their public appeal, namely:

Stunt flying including wing-walking
Aerobatic flying, both competitive and displays by teams such as the Red Arrows Sightseeing from aircraft, helicopters, and balloons.

However, in recent years the growth has been in air sports as participation rather than spectator sports. Flying has become more democratic while more affordable air sports have been developed, such as hang-gliding.

Today the air sport sector is a diverse, commercialised, global industry. This is seen in the different organisations which advertise on the Internet, for example, as can be seen from Exhibit 2.

Exhibit 2: Selected air sport-related internet sites, 2001

Air Sports International
The monthly magazine for air sports enthusiasts. Presenting a round up of all world air sports events duly recognised by Fédération Aéronautique Internationale [FAI]…

Canton Airsports – Learn to Skydive in Northeast Ohio
Ohio skydiving instructional school specialising in first jumps and skydiving instruction, Skydive-Ohio, Skydive-Pennsylvania and Skydive-West Virginia, Skydive Tandem, Skydive AFF, Skydive Static-line.

Action Air Sports UK: Skydiving Parachuting Gliding and More Action Air Sports provide a complete booking and information service for aviation related sports such as Skydiving, Hot Air Ballooning, Microlight flying, Hang-gliding.

World Air Sports Federation, The Presents news and a calendar of events related to air sports such as parachuting, flying, and hang-gliding.

Iles de l’OCEAN INDIEN: air sports, golf
AIR SPORTS – GOLD MADAGASCAR ILE MAURICE LA REUNION LES SEYCHELLES Air sports Golf Air sports La Reunion. The spectacular relief of the island encourages the practice of air sports. Discovering volcanoes from a plane is a must…

ParaMax Air Sports
ParaMax Air Sports! OUR NEW WEBSITE! Check out our new BULLET, and our new website! BUCKSHOT!!! Best price for a 2-seat new, never flown paraplane. The design is a combination of a Buckeye & a Six-Chuter. Price includes UPS shipping in the Con.

Skydive Virginia at Adrenaline Air Sports – Skydiving in Virginia and North Carolina Skydive at Adrenaline Air Sports, Smith Mountain Lake, Moneta, Virginia’s most scenic skydiving centre.

Cochise Air Sports [Ultralights]
The AZ source for all your Ultralight needs. Click on pictures to find out more about each product. Cochise Air Sports is a full service ultralight aircraft flight centre located in Southeast Arizona, USA. The centre provides flight training, sales…

Sky diving, Hang gliding, paragliding and other extreme air sports Sky diving, hang gliding, paragliding and other extreme air sports, is a web site for skydivers, paragliders, hang gliders, parachuting and other sky sports instructors to find jobs through Outdoorstaff, a staff agency for outdoor sport instructors.

Home Page
Welcome To SEMO Air Sports. SEMO Air Sports is located in SE Missouri. We are dealers for Challenger ultralights, BRS recovery chutes and Comtronics helmets and intercoms. Click on the title above or the picture below to learn more.

L’aviation generale et les sports aeriens en France – Everything you need to know about aviation in France.
Europe Air Sports – About EAS
Europe Air Sports Index >> home >> about EAS >> membership >> operations >> representation >> policy statements >> meeting calendar >> newsletters >> links >> internal section >> creditsLATEST NEWS ABOUT EUROPE AIR SPORTS >> general info >> environment >>…

AirNav: Adrenaline Air Sports / Skydive Blue Ridge at Smith Mountain Lake Airport Adrenaline Air Sports/Skydive Blue Ridge at Smith Mountain Lake Airport Services.

HickokSports.com – History – Air Racing
This document contains a history of air racing from its beginning in 1909 to the present. It is a page in the History section of HickokSports.com, the largest collection of sports information on the Internet.

Austin Air Sports Photo Gallery
View photos and videos of hang gliding students and instructors with Austin Air Sports. You can experience the newest form of hang gliding instruction – tandem aero tow behind the Dragonfly Tug. Enjoy the thrill of flying in a hang glider at high altitudes…

Air Sports Baja – Ultralight, Paraglide, Vacations, Flying Lessons
Accommodations: Camping $10 / night at the resort 2 Bedroom deluxe beach front house $200 / night Baja Beach Bed and Breakfast $39 – $99. Flight Instructions. Accommodations. Vacation. Interactive CD. Pictures. Contact Air Sports Baja.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
October fiesta features a guest guide that includes an events schedule, FAQs and ticket sales, plus photos and info about the pilot and crew.

A whole industry appears to have grown up to support the growth in air sports, including the elements shown in Exhibit 3.

Exhibit 3: The supply side of the air sport sector

This industry supports both enthusiasts and obsessive participants. However, air sports have also become popular adventures for ordinary adventure seekers, notably through:

Corporate hospitality and incentive travel packages
Gifts for individuals or groups, as can be seen from the case study on Red Letter Days.

Ballooning has become very popular with both of these markets. An example of such a package is given in Exhibit 4:

Exhibit 4: Hot air balloon excursions offered in the UK by Action Air Sports, 2001

Hot Air Balloon excursions are available in the following four grades: Bronze; Silver; Gold; Platinum. Each of the grades provides you with the opportunity to experience and take part in the following ballooning activities:

Full pilot briefing
Inflation of the balloon envelope
Approximately one hour flying time
Landrover retrieval.

You also receive as part of the experience:

Traditional Champagne toast
Commemorative flight certificate.

In addition to the above the different grades of Balloon flights provide the following features:

Bronze Balloon Flights – £175 per person
Wide selection of launch sites throughout the UK
Valid for 12 months
Full indemnity insurance.

Silver Balloon Flights – £225 per person
All features of Bronze Balloon Flights
Fully exchangeable for upgraded Helicopter experience should weather prevent your flight throughout the season Baggage / Personal effect insurance
Personal accident insurance.

Gold Balloon Flights – £235 per person
All features of silver Balloon flights
Additional 3 alternative launch sites to experience a flight over London.

Platinum Days – £350 per person
Full day in the countryside
Clay pigeon shooting
Pistol shooting
4×4 off road driving
Food and wine
Hot Air Balloon adventure
Full indemnity insurance
Valid for 12 months.

Safety and risk is a key issue in air sports. Several sports have particular requirements for participants related to safety, including for example, minimum height requirement, the absence of back and vision problems.

Clubs and organisations always stress the element of risk for new participants. For instance, Action Air Sports warns would-be skydivers that:

Whilst every effort is made at BPA affiliated skydiving clubs and centres to minimise the risk potential, all participants should recognise that by its very nature the activity of skydiving, like all air sport activities, incurs an element of risk and could result in injury or even death…

Today, as ever, there are three ways in which people can be involved in air sports, namely:

By piloting aircraft and other aerial craft
By being a passenger in such aerial craft
By being a spectator on the ground.

All the time we are seeing new forms of air sports emerging but perhaps now we are reaching the final frontier. As the Red Letter Days case study shows, aerial adventures for ordinary tourists can now include trips on Russian jet fighters and participation in astronaut training activities. The first ever space tourists have now been seen and their number will undoubtedly grow.

However, the nature of air sports will evolve and develop, bringing together different forms of adventure, namely:

Physical adventure – adrenaline rushes and coping with ‘g’ forces Intellectual adventure – mastering the complex theories of flight Emotional adventure – excitement and escapism

But, sadly for the world of adventure, it seems as if the air enthusiasts of today are unable to put their love of flight into words as eloquent as the French pioneer, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in books such as Terre des Hommes and Vol de Nuit.

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