Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Additional Online Media

Catalog Data

Bendix Corporation.  Search this
Bendix Aviation Corp  Search this
All-Women Trans-Continental Air Race  Search this
Bendix Air Races  Search this
First Annual Aircraft Show (Cleveland, 1946)  Search this
Gordon Bennett Balloon Race  Search this
Intercollegiate Air Meet  Search this
Medallic Art Company  Search this
National Aeronautics and Space Administration. John F. Kennedy Space Center  Search this
National Air Races  Search this
National Intercollegiate Flying Association  Search this
National Soaring Contest  Search this
Soaring Society of America  Search this
Cochran, Jacqueline  Search this
Doolittle, James Harold, 1896-1993  Search this
Mantz, Paul  Search this
Stewart, James  Search this
Thaden, Iris Louise McPhetridge  Search this
7.28 Cubic feet (5 records center boxes, 1 16 x 20 x 3 inch flatbox, 1 12 x 16 x 3 inch flatbox)
7.66 Linear feet
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Financial records
bulk 1931-1939
bulk 1946-1962
The Bendix Corporation (1924-1983), manufacturers of devices for the automotive and aviation industries, sponsored the Bendix Trophy Race—a transcontinental speed competition for aircraft—annually from 1931-1939, then sporadically from 1946-1962. This collection includes race-related materials from the Bendix Advertising and Publicity department, along with materials from other aviation events for which Bendix was a sponsor. Approximately a third of the collection relates to the corporation's activities from circa 1960 to 1983, including military and commercial avionics and communications systems, and support for the Unites States space program, particularly the construction of Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Launch Complex 39.
Scope and Contents:
This collection centers on the activities of the Bendix Advertising and Publicity department (later Advertising and Public Relations), for many years directed by William A. Mara (later Eldon E. Fox) and assisted by the New York public relations firm Carl Byoir and Associates, Inc. Materials include correspondence, telegrams, documents, brochures, press releases, photographs, and black and white and color negatives and transparencies. As the Bendix Trophy Races were closely associated with the National Air Races, the collection includes race programs, schedules, entry forms, and related air racing ephemera, as well as a number of photographs by Robert E. Burke and Associates, for many years the official photographer of the National Air Races in Cleveland, Ohio. Similar materials relate to the National Soaring Contest held in Elmira, New York (1935-1946), and the All Woman Transcontinental Air Race (1956-1962) for which Bendix was a sponsor, various National Aircraft Shows and National Aviation Shows, and Bendix's membership in the Aircraft Industries Association of America (AIAA). The collection also includes materials relating to the design and production of the Vincent Bendix Trophy and related replicas and engraved plaques by the Medallic Art Company (New York, NY) and plaster models and plaques by The Potter-Bentley Studios, Inc. (Cleveland, Ohio). Also included are photographs and two sets of 11 audio cassette tape recordings each of interviews made as part of the 1985 program "The Golden Years," and photographs taken at the related October 30, 1985, event at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The later third of the collection relates to Bendix's activities circa 1960-1985, with documents and photographs relating to the construction of Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Launch Complex 39, followed by a small amount of assorted advertising ephemera for various Bendix electronic products and services.
The materials are arranged in the original physical order as received from the donor, and have been grouped into four series. Folders within a series generally run in chronological order, although the last series contains an assortment of materials many of which would be more logically placed in earlier series. Folders of correspondence are generally arranged in reverse chronological order within the folder. Many of the photographs appearing in Series 2 (Bendix Trophy Races, By Year) can be found duplicated elsewhere in the collection. Boxes 6 and 7 both contain oversized materials.
Biographical / Historical:
The Bendix Corporation, founded in 1924 by inventor Victor Bendix, began as a manufacturer of devices for use in the automotive industry, initially of engine-related items such as starting motors and carburetors, but soon expanding to brakes and hydraulic systems. In 1929, renamed as Bendix Aviation, the corporation branched out into the design and manufacture of equipment for the closely related aeronautics industry, including aircraft hydraulics for brake and flap systems, aircraft engine carburetors, and various electric and electronic instruments. In 1931, Bendix decided to sponsor the first Bendix Trophy Race—a transcontinental speed competition open to all comers, male or female—"to encourage experimental developments by airplane designers and to improve the skills of aviators in cross-country flying techniques such as weather plotting, high altitude and instrument flight." The Bendix Trophy Races were held in conjunction with the National Air Races, occurring with great fanfare annually from 1931-1939, but were suspended from 1940-1945 during World War II. In 1946, the races resumed, but now had to contend with the invention of the jet engine—accordingly, the Bendix Trophy Race was split into two categories: the "R" Division for reciprocating engine airplanes, and the "J" Division for U.S. military jet airplanes. Interest in air racing had declined in the post-war period, and no race was run in 1950. In 1951 the races resumed, and from this point on were limited to U.S. military jets only. Subsequent Bendix Trophy Races occurred in 1953-1957, and then (after a three-year gap) in 1961, with the last race held in 1962. By this point in time, the Bendix Corporation—which had branched out to dominate the US market in aircraft radio and radar equipment during World War II—was producing missile and radar systems for the US military. In the 1960s Bendix was also building ground and airbourne telecommunications and telemetry systems for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The Bendix Field Engineering division worked on the construction of Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Launch Complex 39 at the Merritt Island Launch Area (MILA) adjacent to Cape Canaveral, Florida, including the Apollo Launch Control Center, Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), and operational support equipment. In the 1970s, Bendix and its numerous Divisions were involved in a series of mergers, sales, and other changes involving the Raytheon and Allied (later Allied-Signal Aerospace) corporations, followed by a hostile takeover attempt in 1982 by Martin Marietta. In 1983, Bendix was acquired by Allied-Signal Aerospace (later Honeywell International) which retained the avionics part of the business. The original Vincent Bendix Trophy was donated to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in 1985 [artifact number A19850368000]. On October 30, 1985, an event sponsored by Bendix/Allied-Signal was held at the museum in Washington, D.C., honoring aviators involved in the Bendix Trophy Races. Titled "The Golden Years," the program included interviews with several winners of the Bendix Trophy.
Allied-Signal Aerospace Corp, gift, 1988, NASM.1988.0115
No restrictions on access
Material is subject to Smithsonian Terms of Use. Should you wish to use NASM material in any medium, please submit an Application for Permission to Reproduce NASM Material, available at Permissions Requests
Aeronautics  Search this
Aeronautics -- Exhibitions  Search this
Periodicals  Search this
Mercury Project  Search this
Gemini Project  Search this
Apollo Project  Search this
Project Apollo (U.S.)  Search this
Aeronautics -- Competitions  Search this
Trophies  Search this
Saturn 5 Launch Vehicle  Search this
Radar air traffic control systems  Search this
Avionics  Search this
Gliding and soaring  Search this
McDonnell F-4 (F4H) Phantom II Family  Search this
Financial records
Bendix Air Races Collection, Acc. NASM.1988.0115, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Bendix Air Races Collection
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives