Looking For the Future in 1909

The article in attachment Aero112809 first appeared in the Indianapolis Star on November 28, 1909. Indianapolis Motor Speedway Founder and President Carl Fisher was a leading advocate to position his track as the American capital of aviation. The economic benefits to Indianapolis of being the center of a burgeoning industry were obvious and got civic leadership excited. As a result the local newspapers followed developments in aviation closely and articles like the attached were the result.
While Speedway management had recently consumed a bit of crow by having to cancel a much ballyhooed aviation show that was planned for October 14 they continued to pursue the opportunity to host the 1910 international air show featuring the James Gordon Bennett Cup for airplanes. This effort would fail also as Belmont Park in New York hosted that contest. The landmark inaugural edition of that event had been staged in Rheims, France just weeks earlier in August.
Fisher was a man of vision but he had much to overcome with respect to hosting aviation events. The 1909 Bennett Cup winner was Glenn Curtiss of Hammond, New York. While Fisher harbored a great desire to convince Curtiss, who had an airplane construction business to locate at the Speedway the deck was stacked against him. Not only was Curtiss from New York but so was his network of supporters. Also, much of the nation's wealth was concentrated in New York City. This article notes that several extremely wealthy New Yorkers were pooling together to attract the 1910 international air meet to their region.
Among the men mentioned in the article are George Gould, Thomas Fortune Ryan, Theodore Shonts and the Vanderbilt family. They were reportedly forming a syndicate to fund the manufacture of Wright brothers airplanes.
The occasion for the article was a speech made by Cortlandt Bishop, president of the Aero Club of America. While Curtiss' success in Rheims had insured that America would be the host country for the 1910 international aviation competition the timing and location were up in the air. Bishop's big news was that he expected the contests to take place in October.
His remarks provide insight to the general attitudes toward aviation in these nascent days. Bishop forecasted that "not for many years to come would a voyage of any kind of an airship become practical for traveling from one place to another." This ran counter to the vision of many who imagined a sky filled with aircraft.
If that wasn't enough Bishop added that, "the spherical balloon would always be most popular." Also, he predicted, "the aeroplane, though still in its infancy, is coming to be recognized as one of the vehicles of sport and will remain so for many years to come, but it will hardly ever become practicable for traveling, for the voyages will always be dangerous."
Keep in mind that it was during this time that the Speedway's huge brick-paving project was underway.

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