ABOUT BARNSTORMING

ˈbärnˌstôrmˈ / verb

"to travel around by plane giving exhibitions of flying and performing aeronautical stunts, often with wing walkers atop the aircraft performing equally dangerous acts."

The history of barnstorming begins after the first world war. An excess of light military aircraft in the US led the government to liquidate much of their supply of retired aircraft and as a result, ex-pilots from the military began scooping up these biplanes for next to nothing, leading to the first real BOOM in civilian aviation.
These pilots took those planes and began travelling the countryside - individually and in groups that would later be known as flying circuses - offering passenger rides and performing dangerous aerobatic manoeuvres in an awe-inspiring spectacle that made headlines across the country.
As the sport gained in popularity, the stunts became increasingly more elaborate and more dangerous. At the height of its popularity, there were numerous circuses traveling full-time across the country, involving both pilots and daredevils who would perform dangerous acts atop the wings of the aircraft mid-flight. This latter group of people would be recorded forever in the history books as wingwalkers, a bold collection of men, women and children alike.
Unique to the industry of barnstorming is the fact that the sport was not exclusive to white men in the country, an unfortunately common feature for most occupations at this time in the United States. In fact, many of the more infamous pilots and daredevils from the period were women - Bessie Coleman and Katherine Stinson, to name just two. See the video below to watch a 10-year old girl dance The Charleston on the wings of a Curtiss JN-4.
 
Enjoy the videos. Enjoy the beer. If you want to see the baddest modern-day barnstormer still roaming the skies today, skim to the bottom for a profile on the exceptional Brent Handy, an active RCAF pilot and aviator for the Canadian Snowbirds.

BRENT HANDY

BRENT

HANDY

Brent is an unrestricted, surface-rated aerobatic pilot. His air show journey began in 2012 when he flew in the opposing solo position for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds.

Currently flying the Pitts Special at air shows across Canada and the United States, Brent also maintains a full time career on active duty with the Royal Canadian Air Force as a training and standards pilot, responsible for the Snowbirds. Brent has served as a military flying instructor and also as a CF-18 Hornet fighter pilot.

BRENT

HANDY

Brent is an unrestricted, surface-rated aerobatic pilot. His air show journey began in 2012 when he flew in the opposing solo position for the Canadian Forces Snowbirds.

Currently flying the Pitts Special at air shows across Canada and the United States, Brent also maintains a full time career on active duty with the Royal Canadian Air Force as a training and standards pilot, responsible for the Snowbirds. Brent has served as a military flying instructor and also as a CF-18 Hornet fighter pilot.

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