Ben Howard was one of America's premier aircraft designers and competitive pilots during the mid-1930s building a series of airplanes carrying the DGA, or "Damn Good Aircraft," logo. None was more famous than Mister Mulligan, the racing DGA-6 which captured both the Bendix and Thompson trophies at the 1935 National Air Races. No other pilot or single aircraft achieved that feat in the same year. The Bendix Trophy was a cross-country race from the west coast to the site of the National Air Races in Cleveland, Ohio, and typically was the starting event of the week-long aviation festival. The Thompson Trophy was given to the winner of the unlimited division in close-course pylon racing at the National Air Races.Ben Howard and Gordon Isarel flew the DGA-6 in the Bendix and won with a speed of 238.70 m.p.h.,and Harold Neumann racing the DGA-6 turned in a 220.19 in winning the Thompson. Howard's DGA-6 also had the distinction of being the only racer during the golden age of airshows to evolve into a successful commercial production aircraft, first as the DGA-8 & -9; then the DGA-11 & 12.
Ben Howard's engineering advantage was his low-drag airframe and the use of the 850-horsepower Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial. The four-seat Mister Mulligan's commercial application made the difference in the Bendix race, Ben Howard and Gordon Isarel beat Roscoe Turner by less than a minute thanks to two fewer fueling stops in the race from Burbank, Calif., to Cleveland. Turner's 1000-hp Pratt & Whitney Hornet on his Weddell-Williams racer gave him the power advantage. The New Orleans, La., based Weddell-Williams had dominated the American air racing scene in the early 1930s. Mister Mulligan broke a three-year streak of wins in the Bendix for Weddell-Williams. By the end of the week, Howard and his DGA-6 replaced Weddell-Williams as the rising star of aviation by upsetting defending champion Turner in the Thompson race when he was forced out. Newspapers hailed the 1935 event as the "Ben Howard National Air Races".
Unfortunately Mister Mulligan's days on the national air race scene were limited. The next year, Howard and his wife were injured when Mister Mulligan lost a propeller blade and crash-landed in New Mexico during the early stages of the 1936 Bendix race. Roscoe Turner met a similar fate, ground-looping on a rough field in Texas. The misfortunes of Howard and Turner opened the way for Arkansan Louise Thadden in her Beechcraft Staggerwing to become the first woman to win a national air trophy.
Cruising speed: 150 mph.
Max speed: 260 m.p.h.
Cruise speed: 230 m.p.h.
Type: Four place cabin (Custom Racing Plane)
Manufactured Howard Aircraft Company
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