Thompson Trophy

Last updated

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.

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.

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.

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
P-51D.jpg

(type example)
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?

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.

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.

Alvin Melvin "Tex" Johnston was an American jet-age test pilot for Bell Aircraft and the Boeing Company.

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.

High Speed Flight RAF former small flight of the Royal Air Force

The RAF High Speed Flight, sometimes known as 'The Flight' , was a small flight of the Royal Air Force (RAF) formed for the purpose of competing in the Schneider Trophy contest for racing seaplanes during the 1920s. The Flight was together only until the Trophy was won outright, after which it was disbanded.

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