Aviation Fact Friday:
During the 1930s, the National Air Races were the leading air races in America. Rather than catering to the aviation industry, the National Air Races catered to the general public. This meant that the National Air Races were organized as a spectator sport.
The National Air Races consisted of multiple competitions. The Thompson Trophy Race was a closed-course event, which meant that the aircraft competed directly against each other. This direct competition was introduced with the goal of drawing a larger audience due to the increased level of action. Additionally, the Bendix Trophy Race was introduced as a long distance race, but it failed to achieve comparable levels of popularity to action packed closed-course events.
All in all, while the National Air Races offered pilots the opportunity to attain fame, the National Air Races also threatened pilots with the possibility of suffering fatal accidents. In fact, even expert pilots perished during air races, including multiple winners of the Thompson Trophy.
Event pictured: the National Air Races of 1934
Art by: Nixon Galloway