Credits - © 2002 National Air and Space Museum,
Smithsonian Institution (SI Neg. USAF-A15454)
WORLD'S GREAT SPEED CLASSIC
ACOSTA WINS OMAHA CONTEST
There was a throng of spectators and a good field of contestants at the race in Omaha. The course was a 20-mile triangle and the distance 150 miles. This time, Bert Acosta, a civilian, of the Aero Club of New York, won with a speed of 176 miles per hour, about four miles an hour below sthe winning rate of the year before, Second place went to another civilian, C. E. Coombs of New York, flying for S. E. J. Cox, wealthy Texas oil man. Lieut. John A. MacReady, co-holder of the record for the recent transcontinental flight, came in third.
November 27, It had been planned that the Next Pulitzer Race would be transcontinental in November, 1920, probably with the arrangement that pilots might pick their own flying days within a specified period. The route was to have been over a proposed air mail route, from New York to San Francisco, via Chicago, Omaha, Salt Lake City and Reno.
However, it was decided later that such a contest had "little merit from every standpoint," and it was canceled in favor of a 150-mile speed test at Mitchel Field, Long Island, Thanksgiving day, 1921. The donors of the trophy readily agreed to the change and to a request that gold, silver and bronze plaques to be given by them annually for the pilots winning first, second and third places.
There were at least 40,000 persons at Mitchel Field for the event, in which 34 planes started, with a triangular course for a distance of 132 miles. Capt. C. C. Mosley, U. S. A. , the winner, made an average speed of three miles a minute with a Verville racing plane equipped with a Packard-Liberty motor. He flew as a representative of the Aero Club of Southern California. Capt. H. E. Hartney, U. S. A., took second place with a Thomas Morse plane and Wright-motor, and Bert Acosta, civilian, of New York, was third, with an Italian plane. There were no serious accidents.
The National Air Museum is custodian of a Curtiss headless pusher which was assembled in 1925 from original parts dating back to 1909. It was last flown in 1925, when, at the national air races of that year at Mitchel Field, Glenn Curtiss sat in it and then Bert Acosta piloted it in a thrilling contrast to the racing planes of that year.
In the spring, three planes gathered at the best field in America, the Roosevelt-Curtiss complex on Long Island. Byrd, in his repaired Fokker, made last minute adjustments in the early days of May. Charles Levine's powerful Wright-Bellanca WB-1, Columbia/NX-237, proved it could endure the time barrier of an ocean flight when Clarence Chamberlin and Bert Acosta kept it aloft for fifty-one hours over Roosevelt Field. But the ocean may have seemed a more formidable barrier than the clock, and Levine was still puttering with the plane and arguing with his pilots when Charles Lindbergh arrived on May 12.
E. P. Dutton, 1979
June 29-30 Cdr. Richard Byrd, Bertrand B. Acosta , Rex Neville and Bernt Balchen flew the Fokker monoplane America from New York to a crash landing in the sea off the French Coast.
Aeronautical and Astronautics Chronology, 1925-1929