Amelia Earhart Beech-Nut Pitcarn PCA-2
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James Robert Wedell (March 31, 1900 – June 24, 1934) was a famous early 1930s racing pilot and aircraft designer. Wedell broke the world record for land-plane speed in 1933 when he reached 305.33 mph in a Wedell-Williams aircraft that he designed. He won the Thompson Trophy air race in the same year. Wedell’s company, the Wedell-Williams Air Service Corporation eventually had 14 top five finishes in the Thompson and Bendix Trophy races.
The Wedell-Williams Model 44 was a racing aircraft in which four examples were built in the United States in the early 1930s by the Wedell-Williams Air Service Corporation located in Patterson, Louisiana. The aircraft began as a rebuilding of the partnership’s successful We-Will 1929 racer, but soon turned into a completely new racing monoplane aircraft, powered by a large radial engine. Model 44s became the dominant racers of the 1930s, setting many records including setting a new world speed record in 1933.
The Wedell-Williams Model 44, numbered “44”, became one of the fastest aircraft flying in the United States. Wedell himself called it as “hot as a .44 and twice as fast.” During his lifetime, Wedell held more speed and long-distance records than any other racing pilot. Not only was he the first to fly at over 300 mph in a “land plane”, he also set a “three flags speed” mark, flying from Ottawa, Canada to Washington, and on to Mexico City in 11 hours and 53 minutes. Wedell’s best year in air racing was in 1933 when he won races at every competition he entered.
Jimmy Wedell landed and refueled in Albuquerque during the Bendix Race in 1932. The plane won 2nd place that year. In 1934 this same model piloted by Douglas Davis flew to 1st place in aircraft number NR-278-4. Wedell’s company had built many of the successful racing aircraft in the 1930s.
Photos are of the Wedell-Williams Special “44” in Albuquerque at Oxnard Field in the 1930s.
The photos show the plane with a larger engine at the Thompson Trophy Race in Cleveland, Ohio and New York on Floyd Bennett Field.
Photo is of the Bendix Trophy.
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