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Cyrus Bettis (1893-1926) was one of the leading Army Air Service pursuit pilots in the early 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 in the U.S. Army Air Service 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 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.




Bettis, Cyrus


bulk 1924-1926

Provenance, purchase, 2009, NASM.2009.0038


0.05 Cubic feet (1 folder)


No restrictions on access.


Collection descriptions

Archival materials

Logs (records)



Scope and Contents

This collection consist of Cyrus Bettis' logbook, photographs, correspondence and news clippings that document the Pulitzer Trophy flights as well as Bettis' career as an Army Air Service pilot.


Logs (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


Pulitzer Trophy Race

United States. Army. Air Service

Patrick, Mason M. (Mason Mathews)

Topics Aeronautics
Airplane racing
Curtiss R3C-2 Racer


Cyrus Bettis Collection, Acc. 2009.0038, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.

Archival Repository

National Air and Space Museum Archives