Moross Talks Air Politics

This article first appeared in the April 8, 1910 Indianapolis Star. The article discusses the views of Indianapolis Motor Speedway Director of Contests Ernie Moross' opinion about political division within the Aero Club of America (ACA) that had six prominent members of the organization calling for the resignation of its president, Cortland Field Bishop.
Moross likened the situation to the contentious relationship between the Automobile Club of America and the American Automobile Association (AAA) that resulted in a protracted battle for control of auto racing governance through much of 1907 and 1908. In both the aero and the automobile club situations the established governing bodies were based in New York and recognized by sister organizations overseas. In the case of automobiles the AAA formed in Chicago a few years after Automobile Club of America.
In the automobile governance situation the trigger point for dissension was an international congress in Ostend, Belgium in 1907 where new rules for race cars were established without America represented. The AAA perspective focused on the weight of cars while the new Ostend rules, more modern, focused on cylinder displacement. The bone of contention became the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup. At the heart of the issue was the desire of many American automobile manufacturers to race stock cars and not be forced into the expense of creating purpose-built race cars. Check out information elsewhere on First Super Speedway for more detail.
The real point of Moross' comparison between the two groups was that upstart organizations dominated by participants resented what they saw as elite and detached bureaucrats from New York determining their rules. The result was a battle for control. There was an ongoing friction between the high society establishment of the American northeast and the people they referred to as "westerners," especially in the major automobile manufacturing states of Michigan and Indiana. Today political pundits would probably refer to this tension as the blue versus red state tension.
Moross is quoted extensively. "The Automobile Club of America, on account of the fact that it is located in America's largest city, New York, was at once recognized by the foreign clubs as the national body here. It at once proceeded to govern all matters pertaining to racing and otherwise, and at this time controls the racing situation inasmuch as the entries of foreign cars to be driven by foreign drivers are concerned. So that for years all the races in which the foreigners have competed have been handled through the Automobile Club of America. At about that time several of the flourishing clubs in the middle west decided to run an organiation of their own, making it the national body to be governed by them, and to devise rules and means of conducting events without applying to the leading club of America for permission to do so. This was the beginning of the American Automobile Association."
Taking the lesson of this history Moross predicted a similar governing body emerging for the world of American aviation clubs. "...indications now are that very soon the several aero clubs in the United States will organize an association very similar to that of the American Automobile Association and govern themselves in the same manner."
An important historical point is that Moross notes that during this era many of the same people were involved with both the aero and automobile industries. Both burgeoning fields shared the same technologies especially with respect to engines and drive trains, which were much of the time beefed-up chains. "...most of the members of aero clubs are also members of the leading automobile clubs they naturally chafe under the restraint of being governed by a club which only retains its prestige from the fact that it is the club in the largest city in the United States."
At the same time Moross credits Bishop with many contributions to the advancement of aviation in America. "Mr. Bishop has done much for aeronautics in this country, in fact he has aided the Americans in every foreign country with his enthusiam and money. Were it not for his efforts there is a serious doubt that both the international events would be credited to America this year. He helped Curtiss, he helped Mix and they won the international balloon and international aviation events for the United States. He deserves all credit for these affairs..."
The attachment here includes a small sidebar to the main article that focuses on a response by Bishop to the call for his resignation. From his remarks it sounds as if frustrations over the limitations imposed by the Wright Brothers court injunction for patent protection and the possibility of those legal wranglings nixing America's right to host the 1910 international air show were a factor in fostering discontent. Bishop's perceived lack of leadership over this issue may have been the impetus for the complaint.

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