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Under Herwing

June 2024
1min read

Baby pictures make up a large proportion of submissions to this feature. All of them are engaging, but few leap from the page—and the past—as this one does. Dr. Richard R. Rutter, of Burlingame, California, explains:

“The internationally known aviator Albert Paul Mantz was my mother’s first cousin,” he writes. “During my childhood, Paul was often present at family gatherings and was always the center of attention as he told of his experiences as a three-time Bendix Air Race winner, as head of the Army’s flight-training films during World War II, and as proprietor of the ‘Honeymoon Express’ that ferried Hollywood celebrities to Nevada for their marriage vows. During his later years he was extensively involved with the movie world, flying the aircraft used for This Is Cinerama and guiding planes in feature films. It was in this role, while making the aviation classic The Flight of the Phoenix , that he lost his life. Paul was best known, however, as an important figure in the development of Amelia Earhart’s career (as for the romantic relationship between the two that was suggested in a television film, family members consider that to be pure fiction).

“In March 1935 Paul invited my parents to join him at the San Francisco Municipal Airport, to meet Amelia Earhart as she completed a flight. My father’s Kodak Brownie was with him, as usual, and among the several photos he took that day is the one shown here of me—his two-and-a-half-year-old son—with the legendary aviatrix. Paul Mantz, hatless and facing the camera, stands beneath the wing of the airplane (which is not the Electra that was lost in Amelia’s final flight two years later). I cannot identify the others in the picture. To the question most often asked, ‘Do you remember?,’ I reply that it is difficult to separate real memories from the scene in the photograph, which has been displayed in our home throughout my life.”

We continue to ask our readers to send unusual and unpublished old photographs to Carla Davidson at American Heritage, Forbes Building, 60 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011. Please send a copy of any irreplaceable materials, include return postage, and do not mail glass negatives. We will pay fifty dollars for each one that is run.

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