HC Lippiatt and Mr. King

In May, 1940, as British and French troops gathered on the beaches of Dunkirk waiting for a miracle, America remained lulled in complacency. Mont Chumbley, the primary figure in the memoir, “River of January: Figure Eight,” continued his sales flights for Waco Aircraft Company. The war came to the US a year and a half later.


This is Mont Chumbley’s logbook, recorded in early May, 1940. Two fellow pilots appear in this ledger, inscribed nearly 76 years ago. First, HC Lippiatt of Los Angeles, was best known as the largest aircraft distributor on the West Coast. Lippiatt specialized in Waco airplanes, and that fact frequently brought Waco sales representative, Chumbley to Lippiatt’s Bel Air “Ranch.” Another historic figure was Hollywood director, Henry King, best known for films such as “Twelve O’Clock High,” “The Sun Also Rises,” and “Carousel.” Chum explained that he sold King a Waco plane, and in the transaction the two men became fast friends.

For one week in May of 1940, Chum spent time with both airplane enthusiasts.

Henry King (with Tyrone Power & Patsy Kelly)    The grand “ranch” of HC Lippiatt

The story behind this logbook entry appears in “River of January, The Figure Eight,” part two of the story, out this summer.

Gail Chumbley is the author of River of January, a memoir. Also available on Kindle. River of January: Figure Eight, part two of the story can be found at www.river-of-january.com

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