Fictional air pirates typically operate as pirates in the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet, dwarf planet or moon, and travel by aircraft, as opposed to the more traditional pirates on the high seas, who travel by ship. However, just as traditional seafaring pirates target sailing ships, air pirates serve a similar role in science fiction and fantasy media: they capture and plunder aircraft and other targets for cargo, loot and occasionally they steal an entire aircraft, sometimes killing the crewmembers in the process. However, their dress and speech may vary; it may correspond to the particular author's vision of the story's setting, rather than their seafaring counterparts. On the other hand, air pirates may be modeled after stereotypical sea pirates. Some air pirates use airborne aircraft carriers as mobile bases from which to conduct raids. Air pirates made early appearances in novels, silent films, comics and pulp magazines, and have since appeared in a variety of media, including alternate history,steampunk, and dieselpunk works.
The main theme in the popular OpenXCom mod, XPiratez
A story arc in the Mandrake the Magician comic strip involved a pirate airplane that would latch on to the outside of a passenger jet and then threaten to punch holes through the fuselage (with remote-controlled hammers) if the victims didn't follow orders and land at an airstrip where the pirates could loot their prey.
In real-life use, the phrase "air piracy" more often refers to the hijacking and illegal seizure of an aircraft. However, there has been at least one occasion of an act of nautical-type piracy being conducted from the air. This occurred in 1917, when the civilian Norwegian schooner Royal was boarded and captured by a boarding party from the German ZeppelinL23.
^Mullen, Micheal (October 20, 1999). "Crimson Skies Creator Speaks Out". GameSpot. Retrieved July 9, 2015. Lastly (and most importantly), are the air pirates in their zeppelin-based aircraft carriers that hunt the airborne prey and the rich cargoes they carry.
^Herold, Charles (March 1, 2001). "Game Theory; Fly in a Retro World Under Crimson Skies". The New York Times. Retrieved July 9, 2015. Set in 1937, Crimson Skies concerns itself with a dashing air pirate, Nathan Zachary […] Traveling the globe in an airship, the Pandora, Zachary and his crew make their living plundering cargo zeppelins. As Zachary, you begin each mission by leading a squadron of fighter pilots out of the zeppelin toward your target.