In the summer of 1927 four ladies posed for the camera on the running board and rear bumper of a gentleman’s roadster. The candid photograph was taken behind the south corner of the new Building “A” that housed company offices on the first floor and engineering on the second floor, with the majority of the building’s floorspace dedicated to manufacturing airplanes.

The facility had recently been completed for the Travel Air Manufacturing Company that had recently begun relocated from Douglas Avenue to East Central Avenue, five miles east of downtown Wichita, Kansas. At that time the company was in the midst of a major expansion program that included two new buildings (designated “A” and “B”) designed to support demand for Travel Air biplanes.

Although the driver and the roadster cannot be identified, the ladies include (left to right): Estella Blanton; Merle van Boskirk, Madge Doyle (behind rear fender), and Olive Ann Mellor. Miss Mellor was office manager, assisted by Miss Blanton (secretary and stenographer). Miss van Boskirk was personal secretary to company president Walter H. Beech, and Madge Doyle was responsible for managing the company payroll. In 1930 Madge married Roy Edwards, Travel Air’s chief purchasing agent, and that same year Olive Ann married Walter Beech.

After 94 years it is still possible to go on an “archaeological” expedition inside the old Travel Air buildings and find the areas within Building “A” formerly occupied by Travel Air offices. I made many such “expeditions” during my years at Beechcraft. In the early morning hours when the factory was quiet, if I listened very carefully, I could hear the clickety-clack of typewriters, the ringing of telephones, the smell of fresh coffee and the chatter between Miss Mellor and her team as they prepared for another busy day in the “Air Capital of the World.”

(Photograph from Edward H. Phillips Collection)