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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.


http://www.cafepress.com/content/global/img/spacer.gifThe Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of www.dmairfield.org and the 10th year of effort on the project dedicated to analyze and exhibit the history embodied in the Register of the Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ. This book includes over thirty people, aircraft and events that swirled through Tucson between 1925 and 1936. It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders. Order your copy at the link, or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author.  ISBN 978-0-9843074-4-9.


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Marian Trace landed once at Tucson as a passenger in Stinson SM-1F, S/N M505, identified as NC8421. She landed Thursday, May 24, 1934 at 10:25AM. The Stinson was flown by Ernst Voss, who identified their home base as San Francisco, CA and their destination as "Central America." Please direct your browser to Voss' page to learn about the circumstances of their flight to Central America.

A collection of Marian Trace's news clippings and other memorabilia is available at the link to the Homestead Museum (which watermarks its photographs). At left, a profile of Trace cropped from a news article that appeared in the Oakland Tribune, August 13, 1933. The story described her participation in an air meet at the Oakland Airport.

A pilot in her own right, Trace received her Private Pilot certificate on December 16, 1929. With that, she was a rarity among the U.S. pilot population. According to the Aircraft Yearbook for 1931, "In January, 1929, the United States had only 34 licensed women pilots. In July, 1929, there were 70; January, 1930, 126 [the group polled to join the Ninety-Nines, see below]; July, 1930, 270; and more than 300 at the end of the year." By the standards of the day, she was an experienced, five-year woman pilot when she reached Tucson with Voss. From a group of women that could have eaten lunch in a small cafe in 1929, their numbers continued to grow through the Great Depression and beyond.

Below, from the Homestead Museum, is a photograph of her Private Pilot certificate. It was number 10732, and it was signed/stamped by Register pilot Clarence M. Young.

Marian Trace, Private Pilot Certificate, December 16, 1929 (Source Homestead Museum via Woodling)
Marian Trace, Private Pilot Certificate, December 15, 1929 (Source Homestead Museum via Woodling)

Her pilot certificate was kept in a leather bi-fold of the type given away free by the Richfield Oil Company. A photograph of the gold-embossed case is at the Homestead link.

Marion Trace, Ca. 1925, Homestead Museum (Source: Homestead Museum via Woodling)
Marion Trace, Ca. 1925, Homestead Museum (Source: Homestead Museum via Woodling)


Her news articles cite other west coast female fliers, for example Pansy Bowen, Lucy Brown, "Johnny" Johnson, Lillian Anderson, Madeleine Royle, Ruth Marshall Rueckert, Kay Nidick, Afton Lewis, Hilda Jarmouth [sic; should be Jarmuth], Lucy Brown, Genevieve Haugen, Thyra Merrill McLean, Edna Crumrine, Ruth Elder, Adoree Neville, Marguerette Gerry Hart, Esther Jones, Phyllis Goddard Penfield, Kathleen Truett, Clema Granger, Margaret Perry Cooper, Janet Briggs, Elliott Roberts, Georgialee McGaffey, Jean Allen and Edith Clark. There are many more cited among her news articles collection. I list their names so the search engines will index them.

The eight names in italics in the paragraph above, plus Trace, are the nine charter members of the San Francisco Bay Cities chapter of the 99s. Three years after the formation of the 99s, Trace was among the group of women who founded her local Bay Cities area chapter March 2, 1932. The Southwest Section of the 99s lists all the charter members.

Most of the articles and the citations of her pilot colleagues had to do with air meets and the business of the Ninety-Nines, a women aviator's organization founded in 1929 that is still in existence internationally.

Her status as a charter member of the Bay Cities chapter is also captured on the organization's Web site at the link. If you scroll down about 2/3 of the linked page you'll find mention of her as follows: "Marian Trace Johnson:  Marian was reportedly the second woman flyer to solo and earn her license at Mills Field [now San Francisco International Airport]. She was instrumental in an early revision of the 99s Constitution. In 1935, she accepted a position (apparently managerial or secretarial) with Condor Airways in Honduras. She did get the opportunity to be part of the flight crew on the delivery of a new aircraft for the company, flying from San Francisco to Honduras [see above]. She later returned to California, settling in the southern part of the state and getting married. Her husband was elected to the first city council for the City of Industry, and Marian was appointed Art Commissioner by the mayor."

Trace was born in California October 9, 1903 and grew up in San Jose.  While in San Francisco in the 1920s, she was active in the local art scene. An unsourced 1934 news clipping from her collection states that, besides flying, Trace was a, "... well-known San Francisco sculptress and artist, who was one of the first women to solo and win a private [license] at San Francisco Municipal Airport."

She was also a painter and, during the 1920s, she had exhibitions of her work at the San Francisco Art Association, 1924-25 and the Modern Gallery (San Francisco), 1926. The full-length portrait above is also from her Homestead Museum collection (note watermark). She would be 21 years old in the portrait.

Trace continued to be active in the San Francisco area branch of the 99s. Her officerships and speeches on behalf of the organization assured her frequent appearances in local newspapers during the early 1930s. At some point during the 1930s she married Darius Fillmore Johnson (1899-1981). He was an attorney in private practice.

Please direct your browser to the Web page for Ernst Voss. Trace was secretary for Voss' flying school in San Francisco. Their destination in Central America was Honduras, where Voss built a small air transport operation. Trace was his secretary there.

Voss was killed in an air crash in Honduras in 1934, about a year after they landed at Tucson. I know little about Trace's return to the United States or her other activities after that. If you can help fill in the blanks, please let me KNOW. The 1940 U.S. Census placed her living at 127 North Edgemont, Los Angeles with Darius. On Google Earth, heir building today is a salmon-colored, red-tile roof, side-by-side duplex. They rented their home for $30 per month. She noted on the Census form that her residence in 1935 was Honduras, so she was living there at least until then. She was probably also married after 1935. Trace flew West on February 10, 1984 at age 80.


THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 02/04/14 REVISED: 07/10/17

The Register


I'm looking for information and photographs of passenger/pilot Trace to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.


Thanks to Guest Editor Bob Woodling for help researching this page.


Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race is available at the link. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. What was it like to fly from Oakland to Honolulu in a single-engine plane during August 1927? Was the 25,000 dollar prize worth it? Did the resulting fame balance the risk? For the first time ever, this book presents the pilot and navigator's stories written by them within days of their record-setting adventure. Pilot Art Goebel and navigator William V. Davis, Jr. take us with them on the Woolaroc, their orange and blue Travel Air monoplane (NX869) as they enter the hazardous world of Golden Age trans-oceanic air racing. ISBN 978-0-9843074-3-2.


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