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Let's Have an Air Party
Published April 4, 2015 by Florida Memory
Of all the kinds of parties you can have – toga parties, foam parties, hurricane parties – an air party might seem the silliest. But that's exactly the sort of celebration many of Florida's major communities were throwing in the 1930s, when commercial aviation and air tourism were still in their infancy.
Officials in both the private and public sectors had recognized by this time that aviation offered Florida a marvelous opportunity. Distance, as one observer put it, just didn't mean as much anymore when a trip that had once taken days could now be accomplished in a few hours. To encourage Florida's growth as a destination for air tourism, state and local governments teamed up with private businesses to host air races, air parties, and other events. These efforts had two objectives: to sell Florida as a tourist destination by air to the rest of the country, and to convince Floridians of the worthiness of investing in better aviation infrastructure.
Air cruises, usually sponsored by chambers of commerce, aeronautical clubs, and other civic groups, were some of the most unique events. These were typically open to any "sportsman pilots" or private aviators who wanted to attend. The pilots would fly their planes from airport to airport along a chain of host cities, enjoying receptions, races, and other activities along the way. Here's an example itinerary from the Second Annual Florida State Air Cruise:
Itinerary for the Second Annual Florida State Air Cruise (1935) from the William C. Lazarus Papers (Collection M82-133), Box 1, Folder 1 at the State Archives of Florida
The towns along the route would often extend privileges to the visiting pilots at their local country clubs, hotels, and restaurants. In some cities – Orlando we know for sure – the pilots received fuel and oil at wholesale prices as an incentive. The local chambers of commerce often arranged ground transportation as well, and local groups provided opportunities for hunting, fishing, swimming, boating, and other favorite Florida pastimes.
These groups were typically quite intimate, but their activities were highly visible and helped introduce a large number of people to the possibilities of aviation. A little more time, plus some help from World War II, saw Florida criss-crossed with busy commercial air routes and a whole new sector to its thriving tourist industry.
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Chicago Manual of Style(17th Edition)
Florida Memory. "Let's Have an Air Party." Floridiana, 2015. https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/294528.
Florida Memory. "Let's Have an Air Party." Floridiana, 2015, https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/294528. Accessed September 26, 2023.
Florida Memory. (2015, April 4). Let's Have an Air Party. Floridiana. Retrieved from https://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/294528