Barnstorming used to be the highlight of many people’s lives. Following World War I many aviators wanted to continue to experience the freedom that flying offered to them. As a way to make money they toured the countryside, either as individuals or as part of what were known as Flying Circuses. Barns were conveniently placed to store the planes safely from the elements and a farmer’s field was perfect for a temporary landing strip and gathering place for the public.
Some pilots (like Charles Lindbergh) got their start as aviators while barnstorming and for many average citizens this was not only the first time that they saw an airplane but also got to ride in one, for a fee of course. Barnstorming is considered by many to mark the birth of civil aviation. At its height pilots began to perform more and more dangerous stunts, each trying to outdo the other. An increase in accidents and deaths led the Federal government to step in and begin to regulate the new industry. Along with new regulations the military also banned civilians from purchasing new airplanes leaving pilots with no viable way to get an new plane or equipment. With that barnstorming gradually declined during the 1930s though a few pilots continued on until World War II when the outbreak of war put an end to the practice. Today a few vintage airplane enthusiasts have resumed the practice, so be on the lookout if they come to a barn or airfield near you!