Alan HubbardSo far the Olympics haven't reached for the skies - but don't bet against aeroplanes providing more than a ceremonial fly-past in the Games of the future.

I make this unusual prediction after a weekend in which I could have seen my team West Ham make their usual grim start to the season against Spurs, or watched engrossed on the box as England again dismantled  India in the Test and GB's athletes powered to unprecedented glory in the European Championships in Zurich.

Instead I decided to do something completely different. I went to the races at Ascot: not to witness flying hooves, but flying aircraft.

The royal racecourse was the surprising setting for the UK leg of the Red Bull air race, the World Championship of the skies, and mighty impressive it was too.

So much so that I came away wondering if the Olympics was missing a trick here. I even wondered if, say around 2036, we might see such a spectacle featuring in the Games.

Iconic Ascot was the perfect location for a weekend of spectacular entertainment in the skies ©Red BullIconic Ascot was the perfect location for a weekend of spectacular entertainment in the skies ©Red Bull

Before you scoff and splutter, just consider the changes that have come about in the Olympic programme over the past half-century or so.

Who could have envisaged, back in 1956, that the 2016 Olympics would feature golf, rugby and beach volleyball?

Times and tastes are changing. So, we are led to believe, are the Olympics.

Introducing motorised sport is currently a no-no, which is why water skiing is not permitted yet windsurfing, far less worthy in my view, now is.

But who is to say that one day there won't be a Formula 1 Grand Prix? Would you bet against it?

Motor racing is not something which holds compelling fascination for me but it has global interest, great TV viewing figures and sound financial underpinning, commodities which eventually might whet Olympic appetites as golf obviously has.

The word is that new President Thomas Bach says he wants the International Olympic Committee to consider more exciting and spectacular events, while not increasing the number of competitors.

This Bach seems in the mood to compose a symphony of change and who knows the music he and his successors may have the Games dancing to as the 21st century progresses?

Could it be that some of the more traditional sports will be jettisoned to accommodate more viewer-friendly and commercially attractive pursuits?

With pursuits such as chess, cheerleading and pole dancing unashamedly pushing for an Olympic berth one would hope that, if there is to be a Games-changing situation, something like air-racing would be given the more serious consideration.

Air racing is a huge draw for spectators, as the action at Ascot proved ©Red BullAir racing is a huge draw for spectators, as the action at Ascot proved ©Red Bull

This occupied thoughts as I watched the specialised light aircraft swooping and looping over Ascot, where the famous racecourse became a runway for the weekend.

Using iconic Ascot was a masterstroke - rather like the London Olympics employing Lord's for archery and Horse Guards Parade for beach volleyball.

A dozen top international racing pilots, led by Britain's Paul Bonhomme, seeking his third successive World Championship, provided spectacular entertainment.

Air racing combines the fastest, most lightweight and agile racing planes in which seasoned pilots navigate a low-level aerial track through which they whizz at speeds up to 230mph.

It is the world's fastest motor-powered sport and Bonhomme, whose day job is piloting 747s for British Airways, is surely the fastest man on earth - or rather, above it. The Usain Bolt of the skies.

Aptly enough for a horse racing venue, he pipped fellow Briton Nigel Lamb by a nose-cone in 1 min 11.579sec to be first past the post, so to speak, in Sunday's final Master Class race before a sell-out crowd of 29,000.

It was a record 15th career victory for Bonhomme in his 55th race and also second win of the season worth 12 championship points that helped him cut the current World Championship lead of Austrian Hannes Arch from 13 to just two points. There are three races left in the eight-leg season, first in Dallas on September 6 and 7, Las Vegas on October 11 and 12 and then the grand finale in China on November 1 and 2.

Paul Bonhomme (centre) is at the top of the sport of air racing, with a record 15 career wins to his name ©Red BullPaul Bonhomme (centre) is at the top of the sport of air racing, with a record 15 career wins to his name ©Red Bull

"It's a great win," said Bonhomme, who had a dismal performance in qualifying on Saturday and was nearly eliminated in the first round on Sunday when he was beaten by Germany's Matthias Dolderer, who finished fourth overall. "The British crowd love aviation and I couldn't have wished for a better result."

Here is a relatively unsung British sporting hero. He began as a 16-year-old cleaning hangars and washing and refueling planes before getting his pilot's licence at 18. He worked as a flying instructor and air taxi pilot before flying charter flights. He turned to aerobatics and has been in flying shows since 1986.

The most successful pilot in the history of the Red Bull race, he has been on the podium 39 times since the event was created in 2003.

He would certainly like to see air racing as an Olympic sport one day, though as he will be 50 next month he appreciates he won't be the British pilot who goes for an inaugural gold. Nor would it be close rival Lamb, who is 58. Air racing is obviously a sport where age is no disadvantage.

"But there are some good young pilots coming through, Bonhomme assured insidethegames. "And yes, I'd love to see it in the Olympics. Why not? Some of the more commercial aspects might have to be removed but otherwise it has all the ingredients - excitement, speed, crowd appeal, and it makes great television. People can latch onto the romance of flying mixed in with the thrills of a really good competition. And there could certainly be medals in it for Britain."

But just how hazardous a sport is it? Has he ever crashed?

"In terms of injuries, your spine is constantly being compressed, so all aerobatic pilots suffer from lower back injuries and pain. We're flying at 12G - so 12 times your body weight! You have to look after your back, but I have to stay fit generally for all my flying.

"As for crashing, well...I crashed during an airshow in 1994. I made a mistake and the engine stopped while I was upside down at 70 feet. I thought, 'I'd better get this the right way up', but in turning I stalled and I crashed into a field. Apart from banging my teeth on the controls I was fine!"

Bonhomme is among several pilots who have hit the inflatable pylon but so far the only serious crash in the Red Bull race's seven year history came in April 2010 in Perth, Australi, when Brazilian Adilson Kindlemann lost control of his aircraft after rounding a pylon during practice. The plane plunged into the Swan River, flipped and floated upside down. Kindlemann, a former airline pilot and Brazil's national aerobatics champion, was quickly rescued and suffered only minor injuries.

So thrills and spills. Should the Olympics beware of low flying aircraft?

Whether air racing ever achieves Olympian heights may be questionable but you never know.

Maybe Las Vegas - currently known more for fights than flights - will be the host venue for the those 2036 Olympics when, should air racing have winged its way on to the programme, Citius, Altius, Fortus will have a rather symbolic ring about it.

Alan Hubbard is an award-winning sports columnist for The Independent on Sunday and a former sports editor of The Observer. He has covered a total of 16 Summer and Winter Games, 10 Commonwealth Games, several football World Cups and world title fights from Atlanta to Zaire.