Promoter: Jacques Schneider
Prize: £1,000 (Today's value £65,000)
Winner: Britain (eventually)
In an attempt to encourage progress in civil aviation, balloonist and bon vivant Jacques Schneider created this competition and invited the nations of the western world to take part. The contest became known for daring feats of speed and tactical flying, and did much to advance technical and flying capability.
Famed winners included USAF pilot James Doolittle, who would achieve notoriety in WW2 for leading the first air raid on Tokyo, as well as two Brits who broke the world speed record within a week of each other, achieving speeds upwards of 400 mph.
It was ruled that if a nation won the contest three times in a row that they’d get to keep it – Britain’s latter burst of speed was enough to secure the Cup permanently, which is now kept on display at the Science Museum in London.
As well as leading to quite remarkable advances in technology, the Schneider Cup has been immortalised in films as diverse as the unashamedly British war picture The First of the Few and acclaimed Studio Ghibli animation Porco Rosso - it has come to culturally symbolise much, not only about the spirit of innovation, but also the doomed romance and brooding nationalism of the inter-war years.