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Your copy of the "Davis-Monthan Airfield Register" with all the pilots' signatures and helpful cross-references to pilots and their aircraft is available at the link. Or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-0-1.


Bowden, Terry. 2007. The Gardner Trophy Air Races-May 1929, Part 1. JAAHS. 52:3. pp. 222-229. The lower image of NC5426 is on p. 226.


NC5426 still exists and is now NC434P in the Hiller Museum. See mention of it in the lead article in the PDF newsletter (3.6MB) at the link. Note also the photo of the airplane painted in Pepsi-Cola colors, at the top of the page.


The top image comes to us courtesy of the Klein Archive of Aviation Photographs available for view on this website.

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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 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
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

The Register
I'm looking for information about this airplane as well as pilot Sumner to include on this page. If you some you'd like to share, please use this FORM to contact me.
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