This year marks the 100th anniversary of the world famous Paris Air Show. The event has come a long way since it was first staged at the Grand Palais in the center of the French capital in 1909, and has long since established itself as a truly global gathering of the aerospace and defense industries. French journalist Gil Roy explains how the event got off the ground while aviation itself was still very much in its infancy.
Like many an infant, aviation entered the world tentatively when the Wright Brothers coaxed a manned, heavier-than-air powered flying machine off the ground. Flight in America after the Wrights’ achievement was marked more by squabbling over patents than by rapid advances in the science, and the Europeans, particularly the French, seized on the new sport keenly.
When World War I ended in 1918 it had cost some nine million lives, and about 15,000 of those lost were airmen. While that might not seem to be a significant percentage, the numbers testified to aviation’s loss of innocence. It had played its part in a brutal conflict, and was no longer simply the recreational adventure it had been before the outbreak of hostilities in 1914.