Airshows of the Past
Since man has mastered the art of flying, pilots were able to display their skills at specially organised "airshows" or "meetings". In Belgium such an event was already organised for the first time in May 1908 when Henry Farman demonstrated his aeroplane in front of a patient but astonished public at Gent.
Already before the First World War several venues were organised which then were centered on competitions to extend the boundaries and possibilities of both men and machine. Over the years visitors could admire the incredible aerobatic demonstrations of pilots which often reached stardom not unlike today's rock stars. Jan Olieslagers, Pierre de Caters, Nicolas Kinet, Jules Tyck, Charles Van den den Born and first Belgian female aviatrix Helène Dutrieu were among the most famous participating Belgian pre-war pilots. After World War I airshows became major crowd pleasers which more and more took on the form of shows we know today. Industry and defence seeing the advantages of demonstrating their latest hardware were very present at Interbellum venues. After World War II airshow grew larger and larger as did the attendance.
In these pages we would like to give a sample of the many airshows organised in Belgium over the last 100 years.
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