Race planes of the 1930s' - The Cessna GC-1

By Willie Bodenstein


A single Cessna GC-1, named Miss Blackwell, was built by the Clyde V. Cessna Aircraft Company for Blackwell Aviation with the sole purpose to compete for a $25,000 prize in the 1930 Cirrus All American Air Derby.

Organized by and sponsored by American Cirrus Engines to demonstrate the possibilities of long-distance flight by light airplanes, the All-America Flying Derby was the longest air race ever held. One requirement for entry was that the aircraft had to be powered with an American Cirrus or American Ensign upright or inverted inline engine. The first three prizes totaled $25,000, a tremendous amount during those depression days. First price was a cash prize of $15,000, second $7,000 and third $3,000.

Completed in 1929, the GC-1 was a mid-wing open cockpit taildragger powered by a 95 hp (71 kW) Cirrus Ensign. The landing gear was attached by struts to both the fuselage and the wing spar.

The GC-1 finished in 7th place in the 1930 Cirrus All American Air Derby and later in the year was placed 4th in the National Air Races with an average speed of 137.4 mph.

The GC-1 was destroyed in a landing accident, in a collision with a mail plane at the Kansas City Municipal Airport.

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