1932 National Air Races
By Bill Meixner

The 1932 National Air Races were again held in Cleveland Ohio August 27 to September 5. Many new raceplanes were entered this year to dramatically raise the interest level and attract more visitors. The Bendix race from Burbank CA to Cleveland would feature four new aircraft with identical  engines and well qualified pilots. There would also be six other cross-country races on the on the program. Twenty one closed-course races including the Thompson Trophy Race for men and the Aerol Trophy Race for Women. Two speed dashes were again included on the program.

1932 Official ribbon

1932 Logo

The line-up for the Bendix would feature three Wedell-Williams's model 44's and a Granville Brother's Gee-Bee Super-Sportster model R-2.

#92 Jimmy Haislip

 #44 Jimmy Wedell  

#121 Roscoe Turner

#7 Lee Gehlback

Hazilip wins Bendix in 8:19 hours Jimmy being congratulated by Amelia Earhart

Bendix Trophy Race

  Place         Pilot   Race No        Aircraft    Time
      1 Jimmy  Haizlip        92     Wedell Williams       8.19
      2 Jimmy Wedell        44     Wedell Williams       8.47
      3 Roscoe Turner       121    Wedell Williams       9.02
      4   Lee Gehlbach            7    Gee-Bee R-2       9.41

A host of new aircraft were introduced this year in the closed-course events. Benny Howard was back with two almost identical, Menasco powered racers.

Howard "Ike"

Benny Howard & "Mike"

Bob Hall chief engineer and designer for the Granville brothers, who designed the Gee Bee model "Z", winner of the 1931 Thompson Trophy designed the "Bulldog" for the Thompson and the "Cicada" for the Bendix. Both planes were plagued with engine problems. Bob flew the "Bulldog to disappointing 6th in the Thompson. The "Cicada" did not start the Bendix. Sometime after the Thompson the engine and prop were removed and returned to the manufacturer's. The "Cicada" crashed and burned.



Other new racers to appear this year

Gordon Israel's "Redhead"

 Keith Rider  "San Francisco"


Parachute jumping demonstrations and pin-point landing contests were big crowd pleasers. While the idea was to land in a prescribed circle in front of the grandstands, it was not uncommon for some to land in the grandstands or in the parking lot. 

Shell 3-Kilometer Speed Dash

           Men's Trophy             Women's Trophy
          Jimmy Doolittle                Mae Haizlip

Jimmy Doolittle with Gee-Bee R-1

Mae Haizlip with W-W #92

Thompson Trophy Race

Place       Pilot   Race No        Aircraft   Av.Speed
   1   Jimmy Doolittle         11    Geebee "R-1"      252.6
   2   James Welell        44   Wedell Williams      242.4
   3   Roscoe Turner        121   Wedell Williams      233.0
    4   Jimmy Haizlip          92   Wedell Williams        231.3
    5     Lee Gehlbach          7    GeeBee "R-2"      222.0
    6    Bob Hall        6     Hall "Bulldog"      215.5
    7      William Ong        39     Howard "Ike"      191.0

The success of the Granville Brothers Model "Z", winning the 1931 Thompson encouraged them to build  two new racers for 1932. One for the Thompson (R-1) and one for the Bendix (R-2). While they were basically  the same design, the R-1 had a larger engine and a smaller gas tank than the R-2.  Both the R-1 and the R-2 were very difficult to fly. When Jimmy Doolittle's Laird was damaged due to a landing gear failure and Russell Boardman (original pilot for R-1) was injured in a crash, Doolittle became the pilot. The R-1 required great skill to fly, but Jimmy Doolittle was up to the task. The Gee-Bee took an early lead and went on to win.

Gee-Bee R-1

Aerol Trophy

Aerol Trophy Race

Place           Pilot Race No        Aircraft Av.Speed
   1   Gladys O'Donnell       38    Howard "Mike"     185.5
   2      Mae Haizlip       92     Wedell-Williams      183.1
   3   F. Klingensmith       14      Monocoupe      174.0
   4     Betty Lund        Waco      101.0

The ladies entered in the Aerol Trophy Race showed great courage and skill as they took off into and approaching thunderstorm. A severe storm hit the Cleveland Airport while they were flying the third lap. Despite the storm they continued flying until race officials brought them down. Winners were declared in the positions they held when the race was called off. Gladys O'Donnell had never flown, or even taxied, the Howard "Mike" before the race.


Gladys O'Donnell