The best way to experience a Howard DGA is to imagine it from the eyes of a 1930s pilot, who would have witnessed years of increasingly sophisticated single-engine, cabin-class aircraft. For a decade, airplanes had been growing in size and speed. Stinson Aircraft had introduced an endless stream of Reliant variants to the market to compete with cabin Wacos, Fairchilds and Bellancas. Most were powered by Wright and Jacobs radials, which ranged from 250 to 285 hp; pilots of the era were astonished by the big numbers showing up on their ASIs.
With his first production airplane, the Howard DGA-8, Benny Howard entered the fray with an advantage few designers could match, a reputation for speed. In 1935, a year before the DGA-8 was completed, Howard’s designs triumphed at the National Air Races. His airplanes won all three prestigious races, thus earning the Bendix, Thompson and Greve trophies. The 1935 races were playfully dubbed the “Benny Howard National Air Races.”