Bendix Trophy

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The original Bendix Trophy on display at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

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.

The trophy was brought back in 1998 by AlliedSignal, the then-owner of the Bendix brand name (which later merged with Honeywell), to "recognize contributions to aerospace safety by individuals or institutions through innovation in advanced safety equipment and equipment utilization."

The current awards of the Honeywell Bendix Trophy for Aviation Safety includes a scale reproduction of the original Bendix Trophy design and a citation.

The race[edit]

The purpose was to interest engineers in building faster, more reliable, and durable aircraft. Bendix competitors flew from Burbank, California, to Cleveland, Ohio, except for two years when the contest began in New York and ended in Los Angeles.

Famous competitors for the trophy included Jimmy Doolittle, who won the first race, and several women. Amelia Earhart was the first woman to enter the Bendix, taking fifth place in 1935. In 1936, Louise Thaden and her copilot Blanche Noyes won the race. Laura Ingalls finished second. In 1938, Jacqueline Cochran, arguably the greatest female aviator of all time, took home the trophy. Paul Mantz was the only pilot to ever win the Bendix three consecutive years, from 1946 through 1948.

The race was not run during World War II. Postwar winners were frequently military veterans from the United States Army Air Forces: the 1956 winner, Capt. Manuel Fernandez Jr., was the third-ranking Korean War USAF ace. By the 1960s, American interest in air racing declined. This was probably due to an increased focus on the space race during this time. Lt. Richard F. Gordon Jr., the winner in 1961, went on to become an astronaut with NASA.

Mister Mulligan[edit]

Mister Mulligan (Howard DGA-6), commissioned and flown by Ben Howard in the 1935 race, 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 went on to become 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. Howard and Israel, who co-piloted, won the trophy. Their victory changed how long-distance airplanes were designed.

The second-place plane in the 1935 race was actually a faster airplane but had to make refueling stops, which cost enough time to prevent Roscoe Turner from winning the race. The time difference was only 23.5 seconds between first and second place. The winning difference in speed, over the total distance was less than 0.2 mph (0.32 km/h). Mister Mulligan achieved 238.70 mph (384.15 km/h), compared to Roscoe Turner's 238.52 mph (383.86 km/h).

Mister Mulligan not only won the Bendix Trophy but also the Thompson Trophy, when flown by Harold Neumann in 1935. Instead of a cross-country distance race, the Thompson was a closed-circuit race around pylons, a type of race for which it was not particularly well suited. Entered again in the Bendix in 1936, the Mister Mulligan was completely destroyed when the craft lost one of the propeller blades, resulting in a forced landing, 40 miles (64 km) north of Crownpoint, New Mexico; this crash landing almost killed Howard and his co-pilot wife, Maxine.


Propeller Class
Year Start location End location Pilot Plane Speed
1931 Burbank Cleveland Maj. James H. Doolittle Super Solution 223.06 09:10:21.0 $7,500
1932 Burbank Cleveland Capt. Jasper H. Haizlip WW-44 245.00 08:19:45.0 $8,750
1933 New York Los Angeles Roscoe Turner WW-44 214.78 11:30:00.0 $4,050
1934 Burbank Cleveland Doug Davis WW-44 216.24 09:26:41.0 $4,500
1935 Burbank Cleveland Ben Howard DGA-6 238.70 08:33:16.3 $4,500
1936 New York Los Angeles Louise Thaden
Blanche Noyes
C-17R 165.35 14:55:01.0 $4,500
1937 Los Angeles Cleveland Frank W. Fuller Jr. SEV-2S 258.20 07:54:26.3 $9,000
1938 Los Angeles Cleveland Jacqueline Cochran SEV-2S 249.11 08:10:31.4 $9,000
1939 Los Angeles Cleveland Frank W. Fuller Jr. SEV-2S 282.10 07:14:19.0 $9,000
1940 No races during this period due to World War II
1946 Los Angeles Cleveland Paul Mantz P-51 435.50 04:43:14.0 $10,000
1947 Los Angeles Cleveland Paul Mantz P-51 460.42 04:26:57.4 $10,000
1948 Los Angeles Cleveland Paul Mantz P-51 447.98 04:33:48.7 $10,000
1949 Rosamond Dry Lake Cleveland Joe DeBona (Flying for Jimmy Stewart) F-51 470.14 04:16:17.5 $10,000
Jet Class
Year Start location End location Pilot Plane Speed
1946 Van Nuys Cleveland Leon W. Gray F/P-80A 494.78 04:08:00.0  
1947 Cleveland Leon W. Gray F/P-80A 507.26 04:02:00.0
1948 Cleveland Ens. F. E. Brown FJ-1 489.53 04:11:00.0
1949 Cleveland Vernon A. Ford F-84E 529.61 03:45:51.0
1950 No race this year due to Korean War
1951 Muroc Field Detroit Col. Keith K. Compton F-86A 553.76 03:27:00.0
1952 No race this year due to Korean War
1953 Muroc Field Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Maj. William T. Whisner Jr. F-86F 603.55 03:05:25.0
1954 Edwards Air Force Base Dayton Capt. Edward W. Kenny F-84F 616.21 03:01:56.0
1955 Victorville Philadelphia Col. Carlos Talbott F-100C 610.726
1956 George Air Force Base Tinker Air Force Base Capt. Manuel Fernandez Jr. F-100C 666.66
1957 Chicago Andrews Air Force Base Capt. Kenneth Chandler F-102A 679.00 02:54:45.0
1958 No award these years
1961 Los Angeles New York Lt. Richard F. Gordon Jr.
Lt. Bobbie R. Young
F4H-1 869.74 02:47:00.0
1962 Los Angeles New York Capt. Robert G. Sowers
Capt. Robert MacDonald
Capt. John T. Walton
B-58A 1,214.17 02:00:56.8

Honeywell Bendix trophy for Aviation Safety recipients[edit]

Year Recipient Company
1998 Capt. David A. Fleming
Capt. Edward D. Mendenhall
Capt. Edmond L. Soliday
British Airways
Gulfstream Aircraft
United Airlines
1999 Leonard M. Greene Safe Flight Instrument Corp.
2000 James F. Bothwell STAT Medevac
2001 No award this year
2002   Gulfstream Aerospace Corp.
2003 Peter F. Sheppard UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch
2004   Dassault Aviation
2005 Earl F. Weener, Ph.D.  
2006 No award this year
2007   Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation
2008   The Mode S Radar Tools Project, U.K. National Air Traffic Services
2011   National Air Transport System (NATS) and Airbox Aerospace [1]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]