Airplane GEEK

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Howard DGA – Chariot of the Stars

By Frederick A. Johnsen

Ben Howard used the nomenclature DGA for his airplane designs for years. By the time the executive Howard DGA-15 hit the market in 1939, it was widely accepted the letters stood for “damn good airplane. ” Evidently airplane manufacturers did not survive the Depression by being timid about their products.

About a dozen Howard DGAs, including a smaller speedster and a former ambulance, grace the grass in the Vintage area at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021. They flew within from states as diverse as Arkansas, Ohio, Washington, Georgia, Missouri, Michigan, Florida, Nevada, and Tennessee.

Howard DGA-15
Tall fins make a statement in the Vintage parking region where Howard DGA classics convene. Photo Credit: Frederick A. Johnsen

Roger Brown, president from the Howard Aircraft Foundation, and his wife Terese, flew their striking black DGA-15 to AirVenture from Port St . Lucie, Florida. Since Howards were the chariots in the powerful in an era when people were not called influencers, it is no surprise that the Browns’ DGA-15 once belonged to cigar-chomping Air Force tactician Gen. Curtis LeMay.

Another DGA devotee back in the day was actor Wallace Beery, who liked to fly his plane to the hinterlands for hunting, Brown said. As a result of Beery’s requirement to pack gear in and out, the company devised a larger double door on the particular right side of typically the fuselage of his aircraft. The U. S. Navy appreciated the value of this modification as the GH-2 aerial ambulance.

The bonus in the AirVenture Howard lineup is the rare DGA-8, smaller than the plush DGA-15 and descended from the famed Howard DGA-6 Mister Mulligan racer. Jack and Joan Venaleck brought the sporty plane from Ohio.

Howard DGA-15 at AirVenture 2021
Roger and Terese Brown brought their historic Howard DGA-15 to AirVenture 2021. General Curtis LeMay once owned this airplane. Photo Credit: Frederick A. Johnsen

The line of Howards at AirVenture this year is as colorful, and ethereal, as a new rainbow. Some may be departing before the week’s end. Catch them if you can.

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