Bennett Cup - Balloons

While motor racing historians are familiar with the James Gordon Bennett Cup auto races at the dawn of the 20th Century Bennett's offer of a Cup by the same name for balloonists that still exists today is just as interesting. Bennett was a man of many interests and it was common in those days for leaders of the automotive industry such as Indianapolis Motor Speedway Founder Carl Fisher to become actively involved with air travel, both the emerging planes as well as balloons and airships - dirigibles powered by small motors.
Bennett also took up this charge and with the demise of his auto race in 1905 to make way for the first French Grand Prix in 1906. Bennett then decided to stage his first James Gordon Bennett Cup for airships. He also sponsored a trophy for airplane competition at the Rheims airshow in August 1909.
Attached are two articles describing the events surrounding the first Bennett Cup race for balloonists in 1906. Two competitors rose to the forefront in this event, eventual winner and U.S. Cavalry Lieutenant Frank P. Lahm and Brazilian aviation visionary Alberto Santos-Dumont who was the pre-race favorite. Dumont went to his grave believeing he, not the Wright Brothers, was the first to take to the air in a heavier-than-air craft.
The "Bennett Cup Balloons" article provides a list of all the competitors. The other article provides a brief summary of the event and its chief competitors. Note that one of the award winners was Charles Rolls, one of the founders of Rolls-Royce.

Bennett Cup Balloons.pdf3.33 MB
Bennett Cup Balloons.pdf3.33 MB