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Curtiss-Navy racer sets World Speed Record, 1921

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Bert Acosta with his Curtiss-Navy racer, 1921.

On 03 November 1921, pilot Bert Acosta flying the Curtiss-Navy racer powered by a 400-h.p. Curtiss engine, won the Pulitzer Race at Omaha, Nebraska, with a world record speed of 176.7 mph.

The forerunner of the National Air Races at Cleveland was the Pulitzer Trophy Race established by newspaper publisher Ralph Pulitzer. He wanted to encourage American designers in the building of faster and stronger aircraft. The first race was held at Mitchell Field, Garden City, Long Island, New York, for four laps of a 29-mile course. The second race was held at Omaha with a smaller field that lacked the stock de Havilland deH.4s and other standard military types.  The race would be for 5 laps of the 30.7-mile course.

The Pulitzer races produced several beneficial technological developments, but also perpetuated the mistaken belief that the biplane configuration had more potential for high-speed than the monoplane. This belief may have put America as much as 5 years behind Europe in the development of the monoplane.

Pulitzer Trophy

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