Henrietta Sumner, June 1933
(Source: NASM File)
Henrietta Sumner landed solo at Tucson on May 17, 1933 flying
Travel Air NC5426.
Based at Los Angeles, CA, she was eastbound with her destination
recorded as Akron, OH. It is not too much of a stretch to
assume she was headed for the east coast to compete in the
Annette Gipson All-Women's Air Race the following month (see
below). She flew NC5426 in that race.
Image, right, of Henrietta Sumner clipped from the Washington,
DC Sunday Star of June 11, 1933. The caption for
the image states, "Henrietta Sumner of Los Angeles, Calif., waving
to the gallery after flying her fast plane to victory in
the annual Annette Gipson all-women air race at Floyd Bennett
Field, N.Y. The best woman flyers of the country competed." Perhaps this image was snapped by the photographer in shirt sleeves holding a camera in the image immediately below. Note the checked shirt with white collar, which is visible in some of the other images below.
Image, below, from the NY Herald Tribune,
Sunday June 11, 1933. There appears to be wording on top
of the left wing, but I can't make it out. "NC..." is
on the right wing. This is her Travel Air, NC5426. Note the
front cockpit is covered over for racing.
Henrietta Sumner at Finish of Gipson Race, June 4, 1933
(Source: NASM File)
Sumner's time over the 45 mile course was 17 minutes seven
seconds, plus her handicap allowance of 3 minutes 39 seconds.
Twenty-three other female aviators, including Mary
Charles competed in the Gipson race, which was held
on June 4th. Amelia Earhart served as starter, and Ruth
Nichols as scorekeeper.
The New York Times of June 5th reported, "Mrs.
Frances Marsalis of Valley Stream, in a Waco, took second
place. Third place went ot Miss Jessamine Goddard of New
York in a Monocoupe, and Mrs. Mary Moore Samson of Hartford,
in a Fleet was fourth. The winner received $500 and the next
three, $200, $100 and $50, respectively."
The Washington, DC Daily News of June 5th reported,
"...She announced that she was going to use part of
the prize money to buy a new pair of flying trousers, having
torn her present pair in climbing out of the cockpit at the
end of the race." And, "Johanna Busse, Washington's
only entrant, failed to win any cash."
Below, an image of the contestants for the 1933 Gipson Trophy Race that she won. It is unknown if this image was taken before or after the race, but the informality of it suggests it was snapped before the photographer said, "Look at the camera and smile!" Sumner is third from the left, seated in the checked shirt. The airplane is not Henrietta's (wrong registration number and the front cockpit is uncovered). Amelia Earhart is at far left, standing, with Florence Klingensmith third from left in the necktie. Ruth Nichols stands second from right with Mrs. I.J. Fox far right. Laura Ingalls, in beret, kneels in the center of the first row, with Annette Gipson, race namesake, to her right in the photo. Earhart was the official starter for the race, and her starter's flag can be seen draped in front of her and held with her left hand.
Contestants in 1933 Gipson Trophy Race (Source: Sumner Family)
Below, an image taken just after the finish of the race. A smiling Sumner is escorted across the ramp wearing her helmet and goggles and checked shirt. We cannot see the tear in her trousers alluded to in the news article, above. Mrs. I.J. Fox, race sponsor, is in the beret. Her husband was a major New York furrier, which probably explains the furs in June. Annette Gipson is second from left.
Henrietta Sumner, Gipson Trophy Winner, June 4, 1933 (Source: Sumner Family)
Below, an image from the NY Daily News, which identifies the participants by name. If you want a closer look at the people and the print, you may download a PDF file of this article here. Henrietta Sumner is second from right, again in the checked shirt.
Gipson Particpants in NY Daily News June 5, 1933 (Source: Sumner Family)
These images are from Henrietta's memorabilia that her family is presently organizing. If anyone knows anything about these images, please contact us here.
Below, from site visitor Joe Kranz, a U.S. postal cachet signed by Henrietta (Sumner) Lantz on July 1, 1933. Notice that Sumner's name is now stated as Henrietta Lantz. It appears that she was married or changed her name during June, 1933. Does anyone KNOW the details? This cachet commemorates the 1933 National Air Races. Fresh from her victory in the Gipson event, her trip back to California was announced in the Washington, DC Evening Star. That newspaper reported on Thursday
June 8th, "Henrietta Sumner, who won an all-woman air race
here last Sunday, took off today for her home, in Hollywood,
Calif. She planned to make only two stops, the first at St.
Louis and the second at Yuma, Ariz." She must have been pretty
tough, as this would be a grueling trip, even in today's
better-equipped small airplanes.
Henrietta Sumner Lantz, U.S. Postal Cachet, July 1, 1933 (Source: Kranz)
While her NASM file contains no early biographical information,
Sumner/Lantz has a short list of aviation accomplishments and record
attempts to her name (see Plehinger, left sidebar). Among
them, on November 30-December 8, 1934 she and Jean
LaRene attempted a women's landplane refueled endurance
record at Oklahoma City, OK. Flying a Curtiss Thrush, NR581N (not a Register airplane), they were forced down short
of a record by engine trouble after 198 hours and 13 minutes
in the air. The pilot of their refueling plane was Kenneth
B. Hunter. Below, a photograph made during that event from the British publication Popular Flying, March 1935. Image courtesy of Mike Gerow.
Henrietta Sumner, Sometime Between November 30-December 8, 1934
(Source: NASM File)
The Athol (MA) Daily News of December 6, 1934 reported, "Ten days without touching foot or wheel to the ground was the goal of female fliers Henrietta Sumner and Jean La Rene, as they sought a new woman's endurance record over Oklahoma City recently." The photo, below, from the Smithsonian, shows Sumner on the left and Jean LaRene with their airplane. It is not clear if the photo was taken before or after their record attempt.
Henrietta Sumner Lantz (L) & Jean LaRene, Ca. December, 1934 (Source: NASM)
In September 1935 she planned another refueled
endurance record with Beverly Dodge, but it was never executed. With
NC5426 she set an inverted flight record for women of 1h
45m in June of 1935, exact date and place not known.
In October, 1935, she competed in the Pacific Air Pageant (news article below). Note also mention of Register pilots Martie Boman, Milo Burcham and Harold Neumann.
Torrance (CA) Herald, October 23, 1935 (Source: Web)
Henrietta Sumner with Lion Cub, Date Unknown (Source: Sumner Family)
What luck to be able to present to you these photographs received from Henrietta's granddaughter, Toby. She and her family are the 70th relatives of Davis-Monthan pilots and passengers to contact me through this Web site. It is a pleasure to showcase their images that they offer so freely to us.
At right, Henrietta Sumner poses with a lion cub. This image, in the characteristic deep sepia of aging photos of the era, is in the manner of Roscoe Turner and his lion Gilmore. Unless this photograph was taken near 1930-31, however, the cub is probably not Gilmore. Does anyone know?
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 11/07/07 REVISED: 12/18/07, 10/06/08, 10/07/09, 07/03/11