Motorcycle Races With Airplane

From the March 1929 issue of Motorcyclist magazine.

New York, Mar. 1. -By a very scant margin, an airplane, the fastest vehicle in this age of speed and progress, won a two and a half mile race against an Indian motorcycle. Shortly before the recent Aviation Show held in New York City, a statement was made regarding the speed of motorcycles and airplanes connected with the United States Air Mails. A controversy arose as to which was the faster. Accordingly a race was arranged between Julius Stern of Stern Bros., Inc., New York Indian dealers, riding an Indian and Captain Frank Courtney flying a DeHaviland Moth. Captain Courtney is the famous British airman who attempted a trans-Atlantic flight and, failing, was picked up in mid-ocean by a passing steamer.

Curtiss Field, the famous metropolitan flying center, was chosen as the site of the event. After forcedly satisfying a large battery of press and movie photographers, the contestants were ready to start. At the roar of the gun the race was on. Stern was roaring along the ground at breakneck speed with Courtney soaring but a few yards above him. All during the race it was doubtful as to which would be the victor. The last mile was one that spectators will always remember. According to newspaper statements, Courtney’s air speed indicator registered 135 m.p.h., while Stern lying flat on the fuel tank and holding his stock Indian wide open, was clocked at 128 m.p.h.!!! The Indian was only beaten by two seconds over the 2.4 mile course.

Even though the motorcycle was vanquished by the plane, the practicability of the two-wheeler as a supplement to air transportation was proven beyond any possibility of doubt.

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