This Travel Air was a minor celebrity of sorts, having appeared in at least two motion pictures during the Thirties, Central Airport (1933) and Air Devils (1938). The aircraft now bears a paint scheme modeled after the Three Flying Sons O’ Guns stunt flying team of the very early 1930s.
D-4000s were used to represent Nieuports in other Thirties aviation films such as Hells Angels and Dawn Patrol. In August 1929, the first Women’s Air Derby, popularly known as “the Powder Puff Derby” was held. Of the 20 entrants, seven flew Travel Airs, and it was Louise Thaden who won the transcontinental race in her Travel Air D-4000.
In the 1920s numerous small airplane manufacturers sprung up in private garages and workshops throughout the United States. Travel Air, born in Wichita, Kansas, was an example of such a company. Both officers of the Swallow Airplane Manufacturing Company, Walter Beech and Lloyd Stearman left Swallow in December of 1924 after the owner of the company discouraged them from producing a new airplane design. Following their departure from Swallow, Stearman and Beech joined with Clyde Cessna and founded a new company, Travel Air. Travel Air produced more aircraft during the period from 1924 to 1929 than any other United States aircraft manufacturer. At the height of production in 1929 Travel Air had 650 employees. Unable to withstand the economic ramifications of the Great Depression, Travel Air was purchased by Curtiss-Wright in 1929 and most of its manufacturing facilities were shuttered.
Specifications: Span: 30’ 5”; length: 24’ 1”; height: 8’1”; weight: 1,968 lbs (empty), 2,650 lbs (gross). Top speed: 130 mph. Approximate number produced: 1,300.
Donated by Alexander C. Brown, III.
Accession no. 2013G002