Display Status This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

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.



Processing Information

Arranged, described, and encoded by Melissa A. N. Keiser, 2020.


Bendix Aviation Corp



bulk 1931-1939

bulk 1946-1962


Allied-Signal Aerospace Corp, gift, 1988, NASM.1988.0115


7.66 Linear feet


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.


No restrictions on access


Collection descriptions

Archival materials





Financial records




Arrangement note

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.

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.






Financial records





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


All-Women Trans-Continental Air Race

Bendix Air Races

First Annual Aircraft Show (Cleveland, 1946)

Gordon Bennett Balloon Race

Intercollegiate Air Meet

Medallic Art Company

National Aeronautics and Space Administration. John F. Kennedy Space Center

National Air Races

National Intercollegiate Flying Association

National Soaring Contest

Soaring Society of America

Cochran, Jacqueline

Doolittle, James Harold, 1896-1993

Mantz, Paul

Stewart, James

Thaden, Iris Louise McPhetridge

Topics Aeronautics
Aeronautics -- Exhibitions
Mercury Project
Gemini Project
Apollo Project
Project Apollo (U.S.)
Aeronautics -- Competitions
Saturn 5 Launch Vehicle
Radar air traffic control systems
Gliding and soaring
McDonnell F-4 (F4H) Phantom II Family


Bendix Air Races Collection, Acc. NASM.1988.0115, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Archival Repository

National Air and Space Museum Archives

Finding Aid Online Finding Aid