Cyrus Bettis Collection

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.