1933 and 1934 Langley Day

With the experience of the 1932 Washington Air Derby, Chet and his committee could feel confident that future air meets in Washington could be a success. However, there were a few important changes that had to be made. The first was the venue; they moved the meet to College Park, which took them away from having to disturb central Washington (the way Reagan National Airport still does) and the other woes of Washington-Hoover. The second was the name; they decided to name the event in honour of Samuel Langley, late president of the Smithsonian and an aviation pioneer in his own right. Finally, they decided to have the contest the first Sunday in May, certainly a better time in Washington than August.

1933 Langley Day (May 7)

Although preparations had doubtless started at the end of the 1932 Derby, the contest was first announced in the Washington Star on 21 April. Chet’s usual energy led the way in getting things together. As with the Air Derby, Chet left no stone unturned; staunch Republican though he was, on 29 April he visited “that man in the White House,” Franklin Roosevelt, to invite him to Langley Day.

The event started on schedule at noon on Sunday.However, there were two events that marred the proceedings. The first was the NAA’s decision to not sanction the OX-5 and “slow” races, which Chet chose to ignore and run anyway. The second was Amelia Earhart’s resignation from the NAA’s board, which took place as the event closed Sunday evening. Nevertheless, the first Langley Day was a success and Chet was proud of his achievement, if somewhat exhausted by the whole process.

One of the observers of the first Langley Day was L. Ron Hubbard, later the founder of Scientology. He was a reporter/photographer for the Sportsman Pilot magazine and/or the Washington Herald. In the October 1933 issue of the Sportman Pilot, he wrote an article about Chet. (Click here for further reflection and some background on this subject.)

Winners for 1933 Langley Day

A cursory inspection of the winners will show that the single most successful pilot for both years was H.A. “Tony” Little. His Monocoupe 110, NC12350, is currently being restored by Dave Binkley in Sedona, AZ. You can click here for more details on the plane, on Little, his performance at the 1933 Langley Day, and on the current restoration. Thanks to Dave for bringing this to my attention.

 
Event Winners, Results and Airplane (if known)
Sportman Pilot Race over a course of 25 miles, open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes, top speed less than 100 mph
  1. C.W. Clements, Monocoupe
  2. E.C. Floyd, Waco
  3. J.A. Foote, Fleet
Sportman Pilot Race over a course of 25 miles, open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes,top speed less than 125 mph
  1. P. Sharples, Travelair
  2. Richard Bercher, Travelair
  3. R.D. Morgan, Monocoupe
Sportman Pilot Race over a course of 25 miles, open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes,top speed less than 140 mph
  1. H.A. Little, Monocoupe
  2. Holland Duell, Monocoupe
Sportsman Pilot Race of 25 miles; open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes, men or women pilots, on a handicap basis
  1. C.J. Wilke, Waco
  2. H.A. Little, Monocoupe
  3. E.C. Floyd, Waco
Acrobatic contest, open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes
  1. Lawrence Sharples, Travelair
  2. Richard Bircher, Travelair
  3. J.B. Purnell, Fleet
Slow Race of 10 miles to a landing, open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes of 85 mph speed or less. Winner determined by maximum elasped time
  1. Robert Babler, Aeronaca
  2. Clarence S. Bruce, Spartan
OX-5 race; open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes with an OX-5 engine
  1. L.N. Jordan, Challenger
  2. W.M. Henderson, Travelair
Precision “dead stick” landing contest; open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes
  1. H.A. Little, Monocoupe
  2. C.J. Wilke, Waco
  3. E.C.Floyd, Waco
Scale model airplane contest Richard Hooper
Women’s race over 25-mile course; women pilot only, open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes, handicaps being assigned
  1. Helen McCloskey, Monocoupe
  2. Johanna Busse, Spartan
  3. Grace Raezner, Fleet
Bomb-dropping contest; open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes, from a minimum altitude of 400 feet “C.H. Warrington Trophy” C.W. Clements

1934 Langley Day (May 6)

The events and schedule for this year’s competitions were similar to the previous one; however, on the Friday before they had a reception at the Willard Hotel in honour of Laura Ingalls, the New Jersey “society girl” who had just (22 April 1934) from setting a world’s record by flying 15,000 miles from the U.S. to South America and back, which included crossing the Andes Mountains.

In addition to the crowds such as you see here, the 1934 event drew foreign dignitaries as well: Lieutenant Colonel Paolo Sbernadori from the Italian Embassy and Captain G.R.M. Reid from the British Embassy. Both of these countries would be a war with each other in eight years, and the U.S. with the Italians in nine. Two years after this event Mussolini’s Italy would invade Ethiopia, where they used their air power against Haile Selassie’s primitive army. U.S. Army and Navy aviation were also represented amongst the 7,500 spectators.

Winners for 1934 Langley Day

 
Event Winners and Airplane (if known)
Sportman Pilot Race over a course of 25 miles, open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes, top speed less than 100 mph
  1. H.A. Little
  2. Harrison Somerville
  3. Jerry Foote
Sportman Pilot Race over a course of 25 miles, open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes,top speed less than 125 mph
  1. H.A. Little, Jr.
  2. H. Somervile,
Sportman Pilot Race over a course of 25 miles, open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes,top speed less than 140 mph
  1. H.A. Little, Jr.
  2. H. Doyle
  3. H. Doyle
Sportsman Pilot Race of 25 miles; open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes, men or women pilots, on a handicap basis
  1. R.H. Downs
  2. R.P. Bonsall
  3. Edgar Woodhams
Acrobatic contest, open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes Richard Bercher, Travelair
Slow Race of 10 miles to a landing, open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes of 85 mph speed or less. Winner determined by maximum elasped time. C.S. Bruce, Spartan (speed of 30 mph)
OX-5 race; open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes with an OX-5 engine Edna M Gardner (default)
Precision “dead stick” landing contest; open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes Ben King, Aeronica
“Bomb and go back” race H. Somerville, Fleet
Women’s race over 25-mile course; women pilot only, open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes, handicaps being assigned (“the most popular race,” went to five laps)
  1. Edna M. Gardner, Fleet
  2. Helen E. Calvis
  3. Helen Frigo
  4. Johanna Busse
Bomb-dropping contest; open to NC or Group II open or closed airplanes, from a minimum altitude of 400 feet
  1. J.Edward “Ted” Krels
  2. Ben King
  3. Clarence Bruce
Relay Race Edna Gardner, Thaddeus Jones, and H. Somerville

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Chet’s interest in the Washington Air Derby Association didn’t end with 1934 Langley Day. Above is a sequence of photos from the 1939 Langley Day. That year he was “back in the saddle” as President of the Washington Air Derby Association, as he would be the following year.  Notice the Goodyear Blimp hovering above–a fixture at many American sporting events.

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