Rodman Wanamaker (1863-1928) was a pioneer in sponsoring record-breaking aviation projects and in particular and especially an important early backer of transatlantic flight development.
In 1913 he commissioned Glenn Curtiss and his aircraft company to further develop his experimental flying boat designs into a scaled up version capable of trans-Atlantic crossing in response to the 1913 challenge prize offered by the London newspaper The Daily Mail. The America flying boat which resulted did not cross the Atlantic because of the outbreak of World War I, but was sufficiently promising that the Royal Navy purchased the two prototypes and ordered an additional fifty aircraft of the model for anti-submarine patrolling and air-sea rescue tasks, roles flying boats of today still perform. Concurrently, the design with some improvements from both British and Americans rapidly matured during the war spurring the explosive post-war growth of the flying boat era of International Commercial Aviation, giving Wanamaker at least some claim to being a founding father of an entirely new industry, and the modern world with its characteristically shortened international travel times.
He also funded efforts to increase aircraft range throughout the next decade so that Wanamaker's entree, the airship 'America' , belatedly flown by Commander Richard E. Byrd transited across the Atlantic only a few days after Lindbergh's historic solo crossing on May 21–22, 1927 won the cash prize in the contest. In both cases, aviation and arguably the world benefited from the sponsorship of Wanamaker.