1930 National Air Races
By Bill Meixner

The 1930 National Air Races were moved to Chicago, IL. The site would be the the Curtiss-Reynolds Airport, race dates August 23rd to September 1st. The first Thompson Trophy Race would take place in Chicago.

1930 Poster

Aerial view of the Air Race site at Curtiss Field

Granville Bros. side by-side two seat biplane on display at the Expo

1930 Race official describing the current event to the crowd.

After the embarrassing defeat of the Nation's finest pursuit ships in the 1929 races at Cleveland, the military was out for revenge. This time the Navy would attempt to put the civilian aircraft manufacturers in their place. This year was sure to be different!

The Navy had a plan; take the Curtiss Hawk Seaplane F6C-3 that won the 11th and final Curtiss Marine Trophy Race at Anacosta Navel Air Station on May 31st. and have Curtiss modify it to Navy Specifications.

The lower wing was removed and part of the upper wing was covered with coolant radiators. Seaplane floats were replaced with a set of streamlined landing gears with special wheel pants. The stock Curtiss D-12 engine was replaced with a 700hp supercharged Curtiss Conqueror with a new cowling.


The modified Hawk had a top speed potential of 250mph at it's best altitude and a projected average speed of 220mph in the race.  

Jimmy Haizlap with the Shell Travel Air entry

The Travel Air R that won the Thompson Cup was now owned by Curtiss-Wright and was on tour for the Company. Several more Travel Air Rís were produced; one was purchased by the Shell Oil Co., the other by Texaco.

Lee Schoenhair, chief pilot of the B.F. Goodrich Company and second place winner of the 1929 cross-country race called "Matty" Laird president of the E.M. Laird Aircraft Company of Chicago and asked him to build a racer for the 1st Thompson Trophy Race. There was a little over three weeks time to complete the plane, but Laird agreed it could be done.                                                          


"Matty" Laird, "Speed" Holman and Lee Schoenhair standing (L-R) in front of the just completed racer. A last minute decision put "Speed" Holman in the pilot' seat due to his Laird racing experience.

1930 Logo

Capt. Mcready crashed during one of the smaller cubic inch races. Miraculously, he escaped with only a broken nose.

U.S. Marine Corps fighters on display


Starting line-up for the Thompson Trophy Race

Wiley Post"s Lockheed Vega would later become the Winnie Mae

The men's non-stop cross country derby  ( Los  Angeles to Chicago) attracted no less  than four Lockheed Vega's and one air express.
                                                     1st place Wiley Post
                                                     2nd place Art Goebel
                                                     3rd place  Lee Schoenhair
                                                     4th place  William Brock
                                                     5th place  Roscoe Turner  (Air Express)

                                    The Women's Class A Pacific Derby from Long Beach CA to Chicago IL
                                                    1st place   Gladys O'Donnell in a Waco
                                                    2nd place  Mildred Morgan in a Travel Air
                                                    3rd place   Jean LaRene  in a American Eagle

                                   The Women's class B Dixie Race from Washington DC to Chicago IL
                                                    1st place  Phoebe Omlie in a Monocoupe
                                                    2nd place Marty Bowman in a Fleet
                                                    3rd place  Laura Ingalls in a DH Moth 

With 44 scheduled events, the first  Thompson  Trophy  Race would be the big attraction of the meet.  As expected  the revamped  Curtiss  Hawk  flown by Capt. Arthur   Page  of the  United  States  Marine  Corps.  took  an   early  lead  and after several  laps, passed  or  lapped the entire field.  The race   now  concentrated on second place with Speed Holman and Jim Haizlip  virtually side by side. As Page approached   home  pylon for lap seven, he suddenly pulled up and out of the race and than slid off on the left wing and nosed down and into the ground and crashed. Captain  Page  died  of  his injures  later that day. "Speed" Holman won  by a very narrow  margin  over  Jim Haizlip. The Laird  would be  the only   biplane  to win the Thompson Trophy Race.                                                                                                                            


The Thompson Trophy Race entries

   Place         Pilot        Aircraft No.        License No.     Speed
     1 st   Speed Holman           77       NR10538     201.91
     2nd   Jim Haizlip          26      NR482N      199.8
     3rd     Ben Howard           37       NR2Y      162.8
     4th    Paul Adams           81         449W      142.64
   DNF    Frank Hawks          13       NR1313   Out 3rd lap
   DNF    Errett Williams           92       NR536V   Out 8th lap
   DNF    Capt. Page           27       A-7147    Crashed

The Laird "Solution" changed hands a number of times and was modified to attain greater speed. It never again became a challenger and was finally acquired by the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks (Bradley Field) Connecticut and was restored to it's original form where It is currently on display.
In 1930 the Cleveland Municipal Airport would be host to the Gordon Bennett International Balloon Race and Aerial Carnival, August 31st and September 1st. The Army sent a Pursuit, Bomber and an Observation Squadron. The Navy and Marine squadrons would also participate. Well-known fliers, Frank Hawks and "Jimmie" Doolittle were scheduled to pay a visit. 

The City of Cleveland balloon about to be launched