Air racing, sport of racing airplanes, either over a predetermined course or cross-country up to transcontinental limits. Air racing dates back to 1909, when the first international meet was held at Reims, France.
Sporting aviation dates back to the early days of flying, when aviation pioneers used distance and speed contests as a means of developing and testing airplanes. Early manufacturers also encouraged such events as a forum to demonstrate their most advanced airplane designs. Most of the early aviation meets were held in France and were attended by many famous aviators. The strong competitive rivalry between contestants proved very good for the advancement of flying.
World War I interrupted these sporting events, but during the 1920s and ’30s air racing came to the fore as a result of some now famous events and trophies. For example, the Pulitzer Trophy (1920), the Thompson Trophy (1929), and the Bendix Trophy (1931) in the United States and the Kings Cup (1922) in England attracted some of the best pilots from around the world. The most famous event, though, was the series of races for the Schneider Trophy, a truly international speed contest for seaplanes, which was held at various locations around the world, starting with Monaco (1913). The racing series ended in 1931, following three consecutive victories by the English entrant (in 1927, 1929, and 1931), as under the trophy rules the first country to win three times within five years would permanently retain the trophy.