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Vincent Bendix

AKA Vincent Hugo Bendix

Born: 12-Aug-1881
Birthplace: Moline, IL
Died: 27-Mar-1945
Location of death: New York City
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Cremated, Grace Memorial Cemetery, Chicago, IL

Gender: Male
Religion: Christian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Inventor, Business

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Founder of Bendix Corporation

Vincent Bendix was the founder of Bendix Corporation, and the inventor of three devices crucial to the development of the early 20th century's automotive and aeronautical industry. He ran away from home when he was 16 and came to New York City, where he attended night school and worked as an elevator operator. With his strong mechanical aptitude, he was soon working in elevator maintenance, and in his early 20s he helped Glenn Curtiss design the Torpedo motorcycle. By his late 20s, Bendix had designed a popular “motor buggy” which was manufactured by Triumph Motor Company of Cragin, Illinois. In 1914 he invented an ignition device that became standard on all American-made cars in his era, and in 1924 he started the Bendix Corporation, primarily to fund his research into an all-wheel braking system.

These two inventions made Bendix one of America's wealthiest men, and allowed him to indulge his fascination with the burgeoning aircraft industry. In 1929 he changed the name of his business to Bendix Aviation, and the next year he introduced his pressure carburetor for aircraft engines, which was integral to aircraft design for many years. Though he was personally afraid of flying, he established the Bendix Transcontinental Air Race, an air speed competition that was held annually from 1931-62, with winners including James Doolittle and Jackie Cochran, and he provided personal underwriting for the flying exploits of Amelia Earhart. After being forced out as president of Bendix in 1942 he severed all ties with the company, and two years later he founded Bendix Helicopters, which failed a few years after his death in 1945.

Father: Jann Bengtson (Methodist Episcopal minister, changed name to Bendix)
Mother: Alma Danielson Bengtson
Wife: Elizabeth Channon (second wife, b. circa 1899, m. 1922, div. 1932)

    Postal Telegraph Company Telegraph delivery boy (1895)
    G. H. Curtiss Manufacturing Company Engineer (1901-04)
    Holsman Automobile Company Salesman (1904-09)
    Bendix Founder and President (1924-42)
    Member of the Board of Bendix Chairman (1942)
    Knight of the Order of the North Star 1929
    Bendix Helicopter Founder and President (1944-)
    Automotive Hall of Fame (1984)
    Society of Automotive Engineers President (1931)
    French Legion of Honor
    National Aviation Hall of Fame 1991
    Ran Away From Home 1897 (age 16)
    Bankruptcy 1939
    Heart Attack 27-Mar-1945 (fatal)
    Swedish Ancestry
    Risk Factors: Aviophobia

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