Cromwell Dixon

In 1907, St. Louis was host to the James Gordon Bennett International Aeronautic Club Race, the "first ever held in the United States." The trophy, plus a cash prize of $2,500, had been donated in 1906 by James Gordon Bennett, publisher of the New York Herald- Tribune, for an annual international long distance balloon race to be conducted by the International Aeronautical Federation.
     The Aero Club of St. Louis decided to broaden the program into an aereonautic tournament by adding two unique contests scheduled for the days after the start of the Gordon Bennett race.. In each event, $2,000 was to be awarded to the winner and $500 the contestant who finished second. The first contest was for "Dirigible balloons or airships which are lighter than air, being made so by a bag or envelope containing a gas lighter than air." A three-quarter-mile triangular course was laid out from the Aero Club grounds in Forest Park north west to a captive balloon over the Amateur Athletic Association grounds, and then return to the starting point.
     Charles J. Strobel, who owned the airships flown by Lincoln Beachey and Jack Dallas, collected first and second prizes of $1,500 and $750 respectively. Thomas Scott Baldwin, who had finished a poor third, received $250. In addition, a special purse of $375 was given to Cromwell Dixon in apreciation for his excellent performance. Within four years, "the youngest aviator in the United States" would be killed when he crashed from a height of 100 feet at the International Fair Grounds in Spokane, Washington, on October 2, 1911.

Cromwell Dixon
Cromwell Dixon
Handwritten Letter
Aug. 1911
Cromwell Dixon
Collection of Terri O'Brien, 7-19-07
  This Token of Cromwell en route West -- he did a lot of "Stunt" Flying, his Specialty was the Dixon Cork Screw Dive" he would go to 1000 ft then descend in Spirals which he originated, his Cork Screw. Then he leveled off at little more than 500 ft - then while in Billings, Montana he got permission to measure a small Bridge to see if he could fly under it without touching the sides or tap on water - He was given an OK. Spent several days at it and machine on the 4th Day he announced his plans. It drew a great Crowd he went thru, as slick as he hoped it would - He was always trying new and dangerous Stunts. His mechanic Bill Pratt of Pal told us of many chances he took.  

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