Travel Air NC5426
Travel Air NC5426 landed at Tucson on May 17, 1933 flown
solo by Henrietta
Sumner. The annotation on the original
photograph states, "Travel Air 4-D, Wright J-5-9 220
HP". The date of this image is unknown. An image of
Sumner in NC5426 dated June 4, 1933 can be viewed here on
this site. The annotator of this photo was in error regarding the model of the airplane, please see below.
Follow Sumner's link for additional information. The Cleveland
Plain Dealer of July 8, 1934 has her agreeing to compete
in a 1934 transcontinental race.
NC5426 was was used earlier, however, by Register pilot
Louise Thaden during
her March 16-17, 1929 endurance record of 22 hours, 3 minutes,
28 seconds. This download (PDF 444KB) contains the National
Aeronautic Association paperwork that Thaden had to submit
in order to claim her endurance record. NC5426 also landed once at Parks Airport, East St. Louis, IL. Please direct your browser there to view other photographs.
Site visitor Russ Plehinger (please see his
book cited in the REFERENCES)
provides the following: " Travel Air 5426
began as a model 3000 with a Hisso engine. Later fitted with
J-5. It was at one time used by TA distributor Douglas C.
Warren and may have been raced by him. I think it was raced
by Henrietta Sumner at NY in June 1933 and at LA in July
1933. During the years 1933-1937 it was flown in Pepsi-Cola colors, owned and raced by
west coast flyer Harry Sham. Henrietta set an inverted flight
record for women of 1h 45m in June of 1935, exact date and
place not known."
Friend of dmairfield.org and Travel
Air owner Brian Dalton sends the following regarding this
airplane: "NC5426 was first registered as a Travel Air
3000, normally a 150 or 180 hp Hisso V-8 engine [below]. It
was serial number 515 indicating it was built in the summer
of 1928 or so. It was later registered as a D-3000
and after that a D-4000 some time before 1947. A
D-4000 would have had speed wings (no elephant ears, faster
airfoil) and extra fairings, also for speed. It
would have had a round engine, probably a Wright J-5. The
first factory D-4000 was built around SN 619 in 1928. In
the photo of NC5426 [above], it looks like it sports a J-5 judging
by the plumbing coming out the bottom, but that is uncertain
from the tiny photo. That N number is no longer current
so the airplane appears to have disappeared [but see the right sidebar]."
This image, below, from the Journal of
the American Aviation Historical Society (JAAHS, reference, left
sidebar), shows NC5426 as a model 3000 with its original Hisso engine. It was
about a year old at the time of this photograph Compare this
image with the one at the top of this page.
NC5426, May 1929
This image was taken during the Gardner Trophy
Races cited in the JAAHS article. NC5426 had an illustrious racing
and endurance record career. beginning in 1929 with pilot
Warren taking second place in heat #2 from Denver, CO to
East St. Louis, IL. D.C. Warren is a Davis-Monthan pilot,
having signed the Register in May 1927. He was the Oakland, CA Beech/Travel Air dealer.
Update of 10/12/09. As you can see, NC5426 had at least two major profiles. I had originally identified it as a Travel Air 4-D. However, a site visitor pointed out to me that it was not that model (his father had owned a 4-D and it didn't look like NC5426). I clarified the conjecture with Mr. Dalton, cited above and he states, "Your entry on NC5426 is certainly well researched and a very valuable contribution to the documentation of Travel Air history.
"I agree with your correspondent that NC5426 was not a model 4-D. A 4-D would have had outrigger (oleo) gear and a J-6 engine. NC5426 came out of the factory as a straight Model 3000 which almost certainly would have had standard A wings (elephant ear), standard shock cord gear and a Hisso engine. It was then converted to a D-3000 by apparently switching out the elephant ear wings for factory speed wings, retaining the Hisso. Later, apparently on or before 1933, the engine was changed to a Wright J-5 radial, making it a D-4000 (by post production conversion). This conversion is evident in your photos. Going by the photo you display at the top of your entry, at that time the airplane had not been further converted to a D4D (no hyphen). ...
"So, I think you would be safe in labeling the airplane a D-4000 (by conversion). Having said that, there is a great deal of complexity in the designation of Travel Air models during its production run (1925-1930) and in the subsequent years as the airplanes were converted to all sorts of configurations. Also, several custom airplanes were made up at the factory which were often amalgams of various standard models or with quite unique features."
And further, "Regarding NC5426, I think we are still on safe ground that it is a D-4000 at the point of the 1933 photo. The primary distinguishing facets of a D-4000 include the engine (220 hp Wright J-5) and speed wings. Both of those features are evident in the photo. On the other hand, the 4D would have had a 225 or possibly a 240 hp Wright J-6-7 and outrigger (oleo) gear. The photo demonstrates neither of those two characteristics."
UPLOADED: 09/28/07 REVISED: 10/02/07, 10/04/07, 10/31/07,
11/06/07, 11/10/07, 10/12/09, 12/09/14