The forerunner of the National Air Races at Cleveland was the Pulitzer Trophy Race. The first one was held on Thanksgiving Day 1920, at Mitchell Field, Long Island. At the time of the first race, America's planes were getting a top speed of 180 mph while the French, who had become heavily involved with military aviation after World War I, built planes reaching speeds close to 200 mph. However, the Pulitzer series of races brought the winning average speed up from 156 mph in 1920 to 248 mph in 1925.
These Pulitzer races produced several other beneficial technological developments, but also perpetuated the mistaken belief that the biplane configuration had more potential for high speed than the monoplane. This belief may have put America as much as 5 years behind Europe in the development of the monoplane.
The Pulitzer races were always exciting events which also included stunts and parachute jumps. When they were discontinued, the American aviation community wanted to keep a series of national air races going. The National Aeronautic Association was formed and organized big national air shows in Philadelphia and Seattle. While this new series of air races was launched, a group of businessmen in Cleveland decided they wanted this event as a permanent annual showcase for their new Hopkins airport, still under construction. A continuing series of air races would also promote the city of Cleveland to the status of hub of the aviation industry in the United States. Fred Crawford, Vice President of Thompson Products, and Louis Greve, head of Cleveland Pneumatic Tool, were committed to the aviation industry. They and their management teams were racing enthusiasts. Crawford and Greve convinced local businesses to put up prizes and sponsor races and were able to get enough backing to secure the air races for Cleveland beginning Labor Day weekend, 1929. Over 100,000 people attended the opening of the 10-day program.
The Military and the racers. The first Air Service racer, a Verville-Packard 600, originally designated the VCP-1 when built in 1919. It was redesignated the VCP-R in 1920 and the R-1 in 1922. It won the 1920 Pulitzer at Mitchel Field, Long Island, in November with Lt. C. C. Moseley at its controls. In the same plane, Moseley took 6th place in the 1922 Pulitzer at Selfridge field, Michigan. It was also flown by Major "Shorty" Schroeder in the Gordon Bennett race in Paris in 1920 but an overheated engine forced the pilot to land before the race was completed. Because of the constant striving for higher speeds for its pursuit planes, the Air Service partcipated in many races, both military and civilian, during the 1920s. One of the first of significance was on November 25, 1920 when Lt. C. C. Moseley won the first Pulitzer Trophy race in a Verville-Packard 600 at 156.5 mph. On October 14, 1922, the Pulitzer was won by Lt. R. L. Maughan in a Curtiss R-6 at 205.8 mph. Four days later, General Billy Mitchell flew the same type of plane to a world speed record of 224.4 mph. On March 29, 1923, Maughan boosted the record to 236.5 mph. Lt Cyrus Bettis flew a specially-built Curtiss R3C-1 racer in the Pulitzer held on October 12, 1925 and won with a new record of 248.9 mph. Two weeks later, Jimmy Doolittle flew the same plane equipped with pontoons and redesignated the R3C-2 to victory in the Scheider Trophy race at 232.5 mph. He later flew the same plane to a new world seaplane record of 245.7 mph. For winning the Pulitzer and Schneider races, Bettis and Doolittle were awarded the Mackay Trophy for 1925. The Air Service entered many races which it did not win. However, practically every new idea which was developed and applied to its speed planes, and then tested and proved under the most exacting conditions, was later applied to its new pursuit planes. The VCP-R on Aug. 2, 1920 after colliding on landing with an automobile which had been timing its speed tests at Wilbur Wright Field (now Patterson Field area of WPAFB). Schroeder broke his goggles in this accident but was not seriously injured.
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Great coat of substance Review by Ivan
This is a big, serious coat. Heavy. Thick hide. Breaking in well. Makes a statement. I don't want to take the coat off! Good work, Shaul and team. Only comment is that I wonder if the buttons themselves and how they are sewn on is sturdy enough for hide this thick and tough. But no problems thus far . . . (Posted on 3/11/2013)
- Great coat of substance Review by Ivan
- This is a big, serious coat. Heavy. Thick hide. Breaking in well. Makes a statement. I don't want to take the coat off! Good work, Shaul and team. Only comment is that I wonder if the buttons themselves and how they are sewn on is sturdy enough for hide this thick and tough. But no problems thus far . . . (Posted on 3/11/2013)