Thompson Trophy

Last updated
One of the Thompson Trophies, at the Cleveland History Center CHC Cleveland - Thompson Trophy 01.jpg
One of the Thompson Trophies, at the Cleveland History Center

The Thompson Trophy race was one of the National Air Races of the heyday of early airplane racing in the 1930s. Established in 1929, the last race was held in 1961. The race was 10 miles (16 km) long with 50-foot-high (15 m) pylons marking the turns, and emphasized low altitude flying and maneuverability at high speeds. As the race was flown around a closed course, crowds in the grandstands could easily see much of the spectacle.

Contents

There were two series of Thompson races. The first series followed the award of a "Thompson Cup" in the 1929 National Air Races to the winner of the "International Land Plane Free-For-All" (that is, the unlimited class race). Thompson Products (a predecessor to TRW) decided to sponsor a trophy to be awarded for the next ten years for unlimited class racing (though a stipulation was eventually added excluding women pilots). The trophy was designed by Walter Sinz [1] and is now at Air and Space Museum. Sinz also made a pair of 10-foot-tall (3.0 m) models of the trophy for promotional purposes. Races were held for the next ten years, ending in 1939. Further races in this series were precluded by the onset of war.

After World War II the original trophy was (according to stipulation) retired. Also, advances in airplane technology, especially the advent of the turbojet, complicated matters. It was decided to establish a new series, with "R" (piston engine) and "J" (jet-powered) divisions. The "R" class was for civilian competition; the "J" division was for military pilots and was administered by the United States Air Force. Roscoe Turner, the last winner of the pre-war trophy, refused to relinquish it, but the original molds were located, and two additional casts were made, differing only in the legend engraved at the base and by placards identifying the division. Division "R" races were held from 1946 to 1949; Division "J" races (also known as "Military Speed Dashes") were held from 1951 to 1961, except 1952 and 1960.

Winners

YearLocationPilotPlaneSpeed
mph
Speed
km/h
Prize
1929 Cleveland Doug Davis Travel Air Type R Mystery Ship
Texaco No.13.jpg
194.5313
1930 Chicago Charles W. Holman Laird LC-DW300 Solution
Laird Solution.jpg
201.91325
1931 Cleveland Lowell Bayles Gee Bee Model Z
Geebee.jpg

(replica)
236.239380$7,500.00
1932 Cleveland Jimmy Doolittle Gee Bee R-1
Gee Bee R-1.jpg

(replica)
252.686407$4,500.00
1933 Los Angeles James R. Wedell Wedell-Williams 44
WWModel44MissPatterson.JPG

(replica)
237.952383$3,375.00
1934 Cleveland Roscoe Turner Wedell-Williams 44
WWModel44RoscoeTurner.JPG

(replica)
248.129399$4,500.00
1935 ClevelandHarold Neumann Howard DGA-6 "Mr. Mulligan" "
Howard DGA-6 Replica.jpg

(replica)
220.194354$ 6,750.00
1936 Los Angeles Michel Detroyat Caudron C.460
Caudron 460 Le Bourget 2009.jpg

(replica)
264.261425$ 9,500.00
1937 ClevelandR. A. "Rudy" Kling Folkerts SK-3
Folkerts SK-3.jpg
256.910413$9,000.00
1938 ClevelandRoscoe Turner Laird-Turner Meteor LTR-14
Turner RT-14 Meteor.jpg
283.419456$22,000.00
1939 ClevelandRoscoe TurnerLaird-Turner Meteor LTR-14
Turner RT-14 Meteor.jpg
282.536455$16,000.00
1940 No races during this period due to World War II
1941
1942
1943
1944
1945
1946 Cleveland Alvin "Tex" Johnston Bell P-39Q
P-39N Airacobra of the 357th Fighter Group at Hamilton Field in July 1943.jpg

(type example)
373600?
1947 Cleveland Cook Cleland Goodyear F2G Corsair
F2G-1 Bu88458.jpg
396637?
1948 ClevelandAnson Johnson North American P-51D
Anson Williams' P-51 N12Y.jpg
396637?
1949 ClevelandCook Cleland Goodyear F2G Corsair
F2G-1 Bu88458.jpg
397639?
1951 DetroitColonel Ascani North American F-86E Sabre
F-86 in korea.jpg

(type example)
6351,022?
1953 DaytonBrig. General Holtoner North American F-86D Sabre
North American F-86D Sabre USAF.jpg

(type example)
6901,110?
1954 DaytonCaptain Sonnenberg North American F-86H Sabre
North American F-86H SabreCAM.jpg

(type example)
6921,114?
1955 Edwards Air Force Base Colonel Hanes North American F-100C Super Sabre
North American F-100C (SN 54-2099) in flight 060905-F-1234S-063.jpg

(type example)
8221,323?
1956 NAS China Lake Commander Windsor Vought F8U-1 Crusader
F8U-1 Thompson Trophy NAN10-56.jpg
1,0151,633?
1957 Edwards Air Force Base Major Drew McDonnell F-101A Voodoo
F-101A Voodoo.jpg

(type example)
1,2071,942?
1958 Edwards Air Force Base Captain Irwin Lockheed F-104A Starfighter
Lockheed XF-104 (SN 53-7786) in flight 060928-F-1234S-003.jpg

(type example)
1,4042,260?
1959 Edwards Air Force Base Major Rogers Convair F-106A Delta Dart
F-106A Chase Dart.JPEG

(type example)
1,5252,454?
1961 Edwards Air Force Base Major Harold E. Confer Convair B-58A Hustler
Convair XB-58 Hustler in flight 061101-F-1234P-007.jpg

(type example)
1,3022,095?

See also

Related Research Articles

Schneider Trophy air racing event held annually for seaplanes

The Coupe d'Aviation Maritime Jacques Schneider, commonly called the Schneider Trophy or Schneider Prize, was a trophy awarded annually to the winner of a race for seaplanes and flying boats. The Schneider Trophy is now held at the Science Museum, South Kensington, London.

Louise Thaden American aviator

Iris Louise McPhetridge Thaden was an American aviation pioneer, holder of numerous aviation records, and the first woman to win the Bendix trophy, alongside Blanche Noyes. She was inducted into the Arkansas Aviation Historical Society's Hall of Fame in 1980.

Robert L. Gibson American astronaut

Robert Lee "Hoot" Gibson, , is a former American naval officer and aviator, test pilot, aeronautical engineer, and a retired NASA astronaut, as well as a professional pilot who currently races regularly at the annual Reno Air Races.

Air racing sport involving aircraft in racing competitions

Air racing is a highly specialised type of motorsport that involves airplanes or other types of aircraft that compete over a fixed course, with the winner either returning the shortest time, the one to complete it with the most points, or to come closest to a previously estimated time.

National Air Races

The National Air Races are a series of pylon and cross-country races that have taken place in the United States since 1920. The science of aviation, and the speed and reliability of aircraft and engines grew rapidly during this period; the National Air Races were both a proving ground and showcase for this.

Wedell-Williams Model 44

The Wedell-Williams Model 44 is a racing aircraft, four examples of which were built in the United States in the early 1930s by the Wedell-Williams Air Service Corporation. It began as a rebuilding of the partnership's successful We-Will 1929 racer, but soon turned into a completely new racing monoplane aircraft, powered by a large radial engine. Model 44s became the dominant racers of the 1930s, setting innumerable records including setting a new world speed record in 1933.

Bendix Trophy award

The Bendix Trophy is a U.S. aeronautical racing trophy. The transcontinental, point-to-point race, sponsored by industrialist Vincent Bendix founder of Bendix Corporation, began in 1931 as part of the National Air Races. Initial prize money for the winners was $15,000. The last Bendix Trophy Race was flown in 1962.

Howard DGA-6

The Howard DGA-6 was a pioneer racing plane, nicknamed Mister Mulligan. It was the only airplane ever designed for the specific purpose of winning the Bendix Trophy. The plane was designed and developed by Ben Howard and Gordon Israel, who later became an engineer for the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation. Mister Mulligan was designed to fly the entire length of the race nonstop and at high altitude. Neither had ever been done before. Mister Mulligan won the trophy, and thus changed the way in which long distance airplanes were designed.

Steve Wittman American aviator

Sylvester Joseph "Steve" Wittman was an air-racer and aircraft designer and builder.

Mario de Bernardi Italian pilot

Mario de Bernardi (1893–1959) was an Italian World War I fighter pilot, seaplane air racer of the 1920s, and test pilot of early Italian experimental jets.

H1 Unlimited

H1 Unlimited is an American Unlimited Hydroplane racing league that is sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association (APBA). Until 2009, the series was known as ABRA Unlimited Hydroplane, in turn renamed from APBA Unlimited Hydroplane in 2004. The H1 Unlimited season typically runs from July through September, consisting of five races.

Madison Regatta

The Indiana Governor's Cup is an H1 Unlimited hydroplane boat race held annually on Independence Day weekend on the Ohio River in Madison, Indiana. Madison has hosted the Madison Regatta annually since 1951, although the race was also contested in the 1930s. The race inspired a Hollywood motion picture released in 2005, titled Madison which starred actor Jim Caviezel.The Regatta was part of the APBA Gold Cup in 1979 and 1980.

Travel Air Type R Mystery Ship

The Type R "Mystery Ships" were a series of wire-braced, low-wing racing airplanes built by the Travel Air company in the late 1920s and early 1930s. They were so called, because the first three aircraft of the series were built entirely in secrecy.

Alfred V. Verville aviation pioneer and aircraft designer

Alfred Victor Verville was an aviation pioneer and aircraft designer who contributed to civilian and military aviation. During his forty-seven years in the aviation industry, he was responsible for the design and development of nearly twenty commercial and military airplanes. Verville is known for designing flying boats, military racing airplanes, and a series of commercial cabin airplanes. His planes were awarded with the Pulitzer Speed Classic Trophy in 1920 and 1924.

Verville-Sperry R-3 Racer

The Verville-Sperry R-3 Racer was a cantilever wing monoplane with a streamlined fuselage and the second aircraft with fully retractable landing gear, the first being the Dayton-Wright Racer. In 1961, the R-3 racer was identified as one of the "Twelve Most Significant Aircraft of all Time" by Popular Mechanics magazine. In 1924, an R-3 won the Pulitzer Trophy in Dayton, OH.

Gee Bee Model Z racing aircraft, United States, 1931

The Granville Gee Bee Model Z was an American racing aircraft of the 1930s, the first of the Super Sportster aircraft built by Granville Brothers Aircraft of Springfield, Massachusetts, with the sole intent of winning the Thompson Trophy, which it did in 1931. However, it soon suffered a fatal crash during a world speed record attempt, starting the reputation of the Gee Bee aircraft as killers.

Brown B-2 Racer

The Brown B-2 Racer was an American-built small monoplane racing aircraft built in 1934.

The Cessna CR-2 was a mid-winged racing aircraft in the CR series of Cessna racers.

<i>The Galloping Ghost</i> (aircraft) Race aircraft

The Galloping Ghost was a P-51D Mustang air racer flown by Jimmy Leeward. It was a former military aircraft that had undergone major modifications, including shortening of the wings and horizontal tail, in addition to other modifications to reduce the aircraft's drag. S/n 44-15651 was manufactured in 1944, and had been owned by Aero Trans Corp. DBA in Ocala, Florida. It was destroyed on September 16, 2011, when it crashed into spectators at the Reno Air Races, at the Reno Stead Airport north of Reno, Nevada.

Douglas Henry Davis was an early American aviator, barnstormer, air racer, flight instructor and commercial pilot.

References

  1. Campen, Richard N., Outdoor Sculpture of Ohio, Chagrin Falls, Ohio: West Summit Press, 1980 p. 63