EAA’s Attic — 1949 Cleveland National Air Races Pennant

Although there’s nothing particularly unique about this pennant itself, it’s an artifact from the last time the National Air Races took place in Cleveland, where they were held for the first time in 1929, and then regularly between 1931-39 and 1946-49. The 1949 National Air Races were held September 3-5 on Labor Day weekend. The highlight of the event was the Thompson Trophy Race, a closed-course pylon event scheduled for September 5. Unfortunately, on the second lap, pilot Bill Odom (whose WWII/CNAC items were featured in the Attic section of the May 2022 issue of EAA Sport Aviation) lost control of his aircraft, a heavily modified P-51C, and crashed into a home, killing himself and a mother and child in the house. After 1949, many of the towns surrounding Cleveland passed laws barring races in their airspace, effectively ending Cleveland’s involvement in air racing. While cross-country races such as the Bendix Trophy continued, pylon racing was suspended until the event was moved to Reno in 1964.

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