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

Cyrus Bettis (1893-1926) was one of the leading Army Air Service pursuit pilots in the early to mid-1920s. Born in Carsonville, Michigan, Bettis entered the Army as a flying cadet in February 1918. He attended the school of Military Aeronautics at the University of Illinois and was sent to Camp Dick, Dallas, Texas in April of that year. He finished his flight training and was commissioned second lieutenant, Air Service (Aeronautics) on September 11, 1918. On July 1, 1920, Bettis was commissioned in the Regular Army and promoted to first lieutenant. During the International Air Races in 1924, Lt. Bettis won the John L. Mitchell Trophy Race. Bettis won the October 1925 Pulitzer Trophy competition and established a world record of 249,342 miles per hour, flying the Curtiss R3C-2 Racer in its land plane configuration. Bettis was also the backup pilot for the 1925 Schneider Trophy competition and flew the R3C extensively in its float plane configuration. Bettis, along with Lt. James Doolittle, was awarded the Mackay Trophy for 1925. Bettis died at the Walter Reed General Hospital in Washington, DC on September 1, 1926, as a result of injures he received in an aircraft accident on August 23, 1926, when in heavy fog he crashed into a mountainside near Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.



Processing Information

Arranged, described, and encoded by Patti Williams, 2018.


1893 - 1926 (1925-26)


Stuart and Martha S. Lehman, Gift, 2018, NASM.2018.0066


0.9 Cubic feet (One flat box and one letter document box.)


This collection documents Cyrus Bettis' aviation career.


No restrictions on access


Collection descriptions

Archival materials


Photographic prints

Arrangement note

Arrangment by type.

Scope and Contents

This collection consist of the following types of material documenting Cyrus Bettis' aviation career: photographs, both portraits and snapshots; 1925 National Air Race program; correspondence; newspapers; a scrapbook containing newspaper articles; transcript of radio address; caricature of Bettis; and 1st day covers.



Photographic prints


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.


United States. Army. Air Service

Bettis, Cyrus

Topics Aeronautics
Aeronautics -- Competitions
Curtiss CR-3 Racer


Cyrus Bettis Collection [Shuart], NASM.2018.0066, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Archival Repository

National Air and Space Museum Archives

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