SOCIETY MEETS THE AIR
Mildred Morgan was a well-respected pilot and air racer (image
from The Blue Book of Aviation, p. 171). She is one of 42
female pilots to sign the Davis-Monthan Airfield register
a total of 58 times.
The airplane she flew to the Davis-Monthan Airfield is NC8192,
a Travel Air model 4000, S/N 894, built in 1929. It left
the factory dark blue with silver wings. Her husband, Thomas
E. Morgan, president of Pickwick Airways, an early west
coast air transport operation, owned the airplane.
Ms. Morgan is listed in The Blue Book of Aviation, a handsome
volume embellished with Art Deco accents, published in 1932.
The Blue Book says about her, "Mrs. Mildred Morgan, prominent
sports flyer and clubwoman of Southern Calif. has, for the
past several years, been actively identified with the promotion
of aviation....and has participated in numerous air events.
In February, 1930 she flew a Ryan monoplane, cabin type, from
Los Angeles to Mexico City and return. Following this she
did considerable flying for sport and then entered the 1930
Women's Air Derby, Long Beach, Calif., to Chicago, Ill., in
which event she won second place."
Her Ryan trip to Mexico is of interest, because Pancho
Barnes also flew to Mexico the week of February 25, 1930
and was credited as being the first female American pilot
to do so.
Mildred Morgan and NC8192, Date & Location Unknown
This rich image, above, is shared with us by Tim Kalina. Note the text on the side of the fuselage, and the gallon jug of Tarzana mineral water. He says about the image, "There is no caption on the back of the photo but this must have been some kind of promo. Tarzana Mineral Water might be a connection with Tarzana, California (in the L.A. Area) as Morgan was from Burbank. Also, the radio call letters painted on the fuselage side appears to be KTM. A quick web search turned up a station operating in L.A. during the 1920s-1930s with those call letters. Their slogan was ‘KTM, the station with a smile’." Does anyone know anything about the context of this image?
With that question asked, below is another photograph of Morgan (far left) in front of her airplane NC8192. Note the same radio station advertisement on the fuselage.
This is a rare photo, because it shows FIVE Register entities all at once. Besides the airplane, next to Morgan (L-R) are Pancho Barnes, Clema Granger and Mary Charles. We know the date of this image is August 23, 1931. Chances are good this photo was taken near the time of the one above, perhaps on the same day, with Morgan undergoing a change of hats.
NC8192 With (L-R) Mildred Morgan, Pancho Barnes, Clema Granger & Mary Charles, August 23, 1931 (Source: UCLA Library)
This photo could easily have been placed on a number of pages on this site. The source is the UCLA Library.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN AIR RACING
Mildred learned to fly in Hawaii in 1929, and participated
in the 1929-1932 National Air Races making her marks in two.
In 1930, flying NC8192, she indeed placed second (Jean
LaRene placed third). Her time was 21 hours, 8 minutes
and 35 seconds. She won $2,100 and picked up another $300
by placing third in the 50-mile race for open cockpit airplanes
(with an average speed of 107.24 MPH), and another $80 in
dead stick landing contests. Expenses notwithstanding, that
was a great week’s pay for those days, especially for
a pilot with one year flying experience.
In 1931, the Derby ran from Santa Monica to Cleveland. Mildred
placed eighth in that race (with Phoebe
Omlie taking first). She also placed fourth in the Women’s
25 Mile Race (104.519 MPH). Neither of her places accrued
At the end of the 1931 Derby, she flew to New Orleans to
compete in another cross-country race back to Los Angeles.
This race brought Mildred and the two-year-old Travel Air
to Tucson on Saturday September 19, 1931 at 10:10 AM. She
was racing west from Douglas, AZ to Beverly Hills, enroute
from New Orleans. She stayed on the ground for a half-hour
and departed to continue competition. Please
click to see an image of NC8192 at Tucson in 1931.
ACTIVITIES & ACCOMPLISHMENTS OFF THE RACE CIRCUIT
She partied frequently with Pancho
Barnes in California, was an author of aviation-related
articles, and hosted gatherings of The Ninety-Nines
in California. In one of her 1932 articles she describes one
gathering as, “…a reception for over 100 people,
forty-three of whom were licensed women pilots, the largest
group of them ever to have congregated in the world at one
time or place.” This fact verifies the real significance
of 42 women flying through and signing the Davis-Monthan Airfield
She was intensely interested in the roles of women aviators.
The New York Times of April 26 and the Newark Star-Eagle of
May 11, 1931 cite her activities in the Betsy Ross Corps,
which evolved into the Women’s Air Reserve. She was
Secretary of The Ninety-Nines Southwest Chapter in November
1931. She was involved with the Associated Motion Picture
Pilots, chartered in 1932, to improve the salaries and working
conditions of pilots who performed for the movies.
THE FATE OF HER AIRPLANE
After Mildred, the history of her Travel Air is utilitarian.
It was a crop duster in Lodi, CA from approximately 1937 to
1997, used to spread sulphur on Tokay table grapes. Today,
NC8192 lives in New Zealand, owned by a pilot/operator who
gives pleasure rides to tourists.
The image is of Mildred Morgan’s NC8192 in New Zealand,
fuselage hopper installed for agricultural dusting, and wings
squared. Image courtesy of present owner.
UPLOADED: 05/04/05 REVISED: 02/17/07, 10/25/08, 01/15/10