Thompson Trophy

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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.

National Air Races

The National Air Races are a series of pylon and cross-country races that took 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.


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.

TRW Inc. was an American corporation involved in a variety of businesses, mainly aerospace, automotive, and credit reporting. It was a pioneer in multiple fields including electronic components, integrated circuits, computers, software and systems engineering. TRW built many spacecraft, including Pioneer 1, Pioneer 10, and several space-based observatories. It was #57 on the 1986 Fortune 500 list, and had 122,258 employees. In 1958 the company was called Thompson Ramo Wooldridge, after three prominent leaders. This was later shortened to TRW.

Walter A. Sinz was an American sculptor born in Cleveland, Ohio. Among his best-known work was the Thompson Trophy. He was educated at the Cleveland School of Art, where he also taught from 1911 to 1952. In addition to his bronze and medal work, he designed figures for Cowan Pottery.

National Air and Space Museum Aviation museum in Washington, D.C.

The National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, also called the Air and Space Museum, is a museum in Washington, D.C.. It was established in 1946 as the National Air Museum and opened its main building on the National Mall near L'Enfant Plaza in 1976. In 2016, the museum saw approximately 7.5 million visitors, making it the third most visited museum in the world, and the most visited museum in the United States. The museum contains the Apollo 11 command module, the Friendship 7 capsule which was flown by John Glenn, Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, the Bell X-1 which broke the sound barrier, and the Wright brothers' plane near the entrance.

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.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Turbojet jet engine

The turbojet is an airbreathing jet engine, typically used in aircraft. It consists of a gas turbine with a propelling nozzle. The gas turbine has an air inlet, a compressor, a combustion chamber, and a turbine. The compressed air from the compressor is heated by the fuel in the combustion chamber and then allowed to expand through the turbine. The turbine exhaust is then expanded in the propelling nozzle where it is accelerated to high speed to provide thrust. Two engineers, Frank Whittle in the United Kingdom and Hans von Ohain in Germany, developed the concept independently into practical engines during the late 1930s.

United States Air Force Air and space warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Air Force (USAF) is the aerial and space warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the five branches of the United States Armed Forces, and one of the seven American uniformed services. Initially formed as a part of the United States Army on 1 August 1907, the USAF was established as a separate branch of the U.S. Armed Forces on 18 September 1947 with the passing of the National Security Act of 1947. It is the youngest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the fourth in order of precedence. The USAF is the largest and most technologically advanced air force in the world. The Air Force articulates its core missions as air and space superiority, global integrated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, rapid global mobility, global strike, and command and control.


1929 Cleveland Doug Davis Travel Air Type R Mystery Ship
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1930 Chicago Charles W. Holman Laird LC-DW300 Solution
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1931 Cleveland Lowell Bayles Gee Bee Model Z

1932 Cleveland Jimmy Doolittle Gee Bee R-1
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1933 Los Angeles James R. Wedell Wedell-Williams 44

1934 Cleveland Roscoe Turner Wedell-Williams 44

1935 ClevelandHarold Neumann Howard DGA-6 "Mr. Mulligan" "
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220.194354$ 6,750.00
1936 Los Angeles Michel Detroyat Caudron C.460
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264.261425$ 9,500.00
1937 ClevelandR. A. "Rudy" Kling Folkerts SK-3
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1938 ClevelandRoscoe Turner Laird-Turner Meteor LTR-14
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1939 ClevelandRoscoe TurnerLaird-Turner Meteor LTR-14
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1940 No races during this period due to World War II
1946 Cleveland Alvin "Tex" Johnston Bell P-39Q
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(type example)
1947 Cleveland Cook Cleland Goodyear F2G Corsair
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1948 ClevelandAnson Johnson North American P-51D

(type example)
1949 ClevelandCook Cleland Goodyear F2G Corsair
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1951 DetroitColonel Ascani North American F-86E Sabre
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(type example)
1953 DaytonBrig. General Holtoner North American F-86D Sabre
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(type example)
1954 DaytonCaptain Sonnenberg North American F-86H Sabre
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(type example)
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)
1956 NAS China Lake Commander Windsor Vought F8U-1 Crusader
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1957 Edwards Air Force Base Major Drew McDonnell F-101A Voodoo
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(type example)
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)
1959 Edwards Air Force Base Major Rogers Convair F-106A Delta Dart
F-106A Chase Dart.JPEG

(type example)
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)

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