The Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register

OWN A TIME MACHINE

Your copy of the "Davis-Monthan Airfield Register" with all the pilots' signatures and helpful cross-references to pilots and their aircraft is available at the link. Or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-0-1.

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OTHER BOOKS FOR YOU

"Military Aircraft of the Davis Monthan Register, 1925-1936" is available at the link. This book describes and illustrates with black & white photographs the majority of military aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield between 1925 and 1936. The book includes biographies of some of the pilots who flew the aircraft to Tucson as well as extensive listings of all the pilots and airplanes. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-2-5.

"Art Goebel's Own Story" by Art Goebel (edited by G.W. Hyatt) is written in language that expands for us his life as a Golden Age aviation entrepreneur, who used his aviation exploits to build a business around his passion.  Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-1-8.

"Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race" is available at the link. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. What was it like to fly from Oakland to Honolulu in a single-engine plane during August 1927? Was the 25,000 dollar prize worth it? Did the resulting fame balance the risk? For the first time ever, this book presents the pilot and navigator's stories written by them within days of their record-setting adventure. Pilot Art Goebel and navigator William V. Davis, Jr. take us with them on the Woolaroc, their orange and blue Travel Air monoplane (NX869) as they enter the hazardous world of Golden Age trans-oceanic air racing. ISBN 978-0-9843074-3-2.

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PRESS COVERAGE AND OTHER ITEMS RELATED TO WWW.DMAIRFIELD.ORG

Occasional press coverage of this site and other project activities is listed here.

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AIRCRAFT STILL REGISTERED WITH THE FAA

Although I have not examined each airplane, I am sure there is a significant number of our Davis-Monthan aircraft still registered with the FAA. The reason I say this is because for one subpopulation of pilots, the 39 women who landed, I searched for each of their airplanes in the FAA database. Of their numbers, 9 of their aircraft are still registered with the FAA today.

Think of it! Where else but in the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register can one find in a single place signatures that illuminate the comings and goings of 10% of certificated female Golden Age pilots? Not to mention being able to directly, today, connect them with about 25% of their airplanes.

Five of their landings were associated with the 1929 and 1931 National Air Races: Omlie, Bowman (1931), LaRene, Charles and Morgan were competing. Pancho Barnes and Bowman (1932) were flying on business. Nancy Harkness was flying for Love: she was on her honeymoon with her new husband, Robert Love! For the full story of these women and their airplanes, click here.

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AIRPLANES THAT LANDED AT THE DAVIS-MONTHAN AIRFIELD

What were some of our airplanes that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield? The aircraft were as varied as their pilots; their itineraries and histories are equally as interesting and uplifting; sometimes equally as tragic.

Some were owned by early aviation entrepreneurs; some were brand new and making their maiden flights; some flew around the U.S. for many hundreds of hours before and after they came into our view in Tucson; some were used for rum-running and advertising, airshows and races, honeymoons and other endurance events. And rebels destroyed at least one during the Mexican Revolution.

Most of the aircraft are identified by their registration numbers as well as their make and model. Depending on their date of manufacture, some of them have no "N" prefixes; some do (see the right column). Please check "What's New on the Site" to see information on airplanes I have recently uploaded. Follow those leads for examples of the types of extended information I envision for this site.

Search the Database
by plane type and model

by plane number

Many of the aircraft and their descriptions, you'll discover through the dropdown menus above, are summarized from my research visits with the National Air and Space Museum historical aircraft listings, available in the archives at the Museum on the Mall and at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles Airport. These lists are hand-written documents, sometimes rich with data, sometimes not. The older the aircraft, the less detail is available, and there are gaps of a decade or more in some planes’ chains of custody. Many aircraft endured modifications that challenged their airworthiness, and they suffered many accidents during their relatively short lives. Some are still registered with the FAA today and I have noted that in their histories here and elsewhere on this Web site.

Of 3,704 total visits, there were at least 2,121 individual aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield between 1925 and 1936. I say "at least", because some pilots did not record the registration numbers of the airplanes, and some of those probably landed multiple times.

The 2,121 individual aircraft comprised 93 unique manufacturer marques, or brands, of aircraft. The usual suspects were there: Waco, Travel Air, Lockheed, Stearman, etc. But, rare ones landed also: Apple, Emsco, Flamingo, Arrow, Klemm-Daimler, etc. Other brands we may never know about, since 157 pilots did not identify the marque or model of the airplanes they were flying. Please follow this link to investigate the individual manufacturers.

The most frequent marque to land was Douglas (717 landings by that brand). Why? Because the military preference was significant for Douglas aircraft during the interbellem. At the other extreme, brands, like Solar, Pinto and Blackburn are represented only once.

The second most frequent marque was Fokker (331 landings). This is the result of a strong commercial transport activity in the southwest from late 1927 through 1929. Fully 121 Fokker landings are due to the activity of two Fokker aircraft, NC3317 and NC8011, flown by the short-lived Standard Air Lines.

The first airplane noted in the register was a "Hisso Standard" (no registration number given), flown by Al Gilhousen. He remarked, "First plane to land on new field." He landed February 6, 1925, carrying two passengers. He visited again on January 8, 1927 flying a "Standard". He was inbound from Casa Grande and departed on January 9th for destinations unknown. He carried L.D. Hughes as passenger.

John F. Hicks of Newark, NJ flew the last aircraft noted in the logbook. He had a sense of humor. He logged his aircraft as an "Airnocker C-2" (Aeronca C-2), NC10169. He arrived from Glendale on November 25, 1936 and departed on the 29th for "Newark - we hope". He further remarked, "What! No headwind".

In between passed the fleet of contemporary craft, from single engine military pursuits, to autogiros and blimps, to the first Douglas Sleeper Transports (the first American Airlines Douglas transcontinental passenger service is logged). The majority of Golden Age marques made their way east and west through Tucson.

Likewise, many of the aircraft that visited are historically famous; most were workaday. In the military category, the Fokker "Question Mark", along with its pilot (Maj. Carl Spatz) and crew, visited on December 21, 1928 on the way westbound to San Diego to set their air-to-air refueling record on New Years Day.

In the civil category, Byrd's Fokker "Josephine Ford" (piloted by Floyd Bennett, with Bernt Balchen as copilot) landed at the airield during their good will tour. The Ryan "Spirit of St. Louis" and Lockheed "Winnie Mae", and Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Vega NC7952 (the red one, now in the Smithsonian) landed.

In fact, of 198 Lockheed Vega, Sirius, Orion and Altairs ever made, fully 91 of them (46%) landed at the Airfield a total of 144 times. Two airships passed through, and pushers and autogiros (John Miller, an early autogiro pilot, who signed the Register in 1931 with his Pitcairn PCA-2, passed away in 2008) , and GeeBees NC2101 (recently flying air shows as a replica) and NC46V (piloted by Zantford Granville, but now also a flying replica).

As far as I can determine, the oldest airplane to land was a "1911 pusher", registration number 3378, flown by Al Wilson (his airplane was a replica; so far I have not been able to locate it among the records at the NASM). Based in Hollywood, Mr. Wilson flew in from Wilcox, AZ on September 28, 1930. He departed for Phoenix on September 30th. Al Wilson was killed two years later on September 3, 1932 in Cleveland at the National Air Races in a crash with the autogiro flown by John Miller.

The newest airplane to register is unidentified at this time, but a good candidate might be NC14415, the beautiful 1935 Beech Staggerwing flown by Robert Love and Nancy Harkness during their honeymoon from Boston. Look near the end of this download (PDF 1.6Mb) for a picture of this beautiful Staggerwing.

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 05/05 REVISED: 02/14/06, 03/15/06, 03/05/08, 08/03/10

 
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OF INTEREST...
ABOUT AIRCRAFT REGISTRATION NUMBERS

When you work with the aircraft "by plane number", below, left, you will see various types of numbers.

Military aircraft are generally identified as something like 31-167. That means that the aircraft was acquired by the military in 1931, and it was the 167th aircraft acquired. You might see something like A-2036. This is a Navy or Marine Corps aircraft. A great resource for numeric information on every military aircraft ever made is this site.

For other aircraft, sometimes there is a letter prefix before the number. You might see N, NC, NR, NS, NX or no prefix. For a useful tutorial on what these letters mean and how they came to be associated with US-registered aircraft, see this download by Hayden Hamilton, from the American Aviation Historical Society. This is another good reference, specifically focused on numbering history, it is offered to you with permission from the Society.

DAVIS-MONTHAN REGISTER & THE FAA DATABASE

The successful analysis of the aircraft flown by the female pilots who landed (39 pilots and airplanes is a tractable group to study) makes me think that comparison is possible between the Davis-Monthan register database of airplane registrations and the FAA database of registered aircraft available online.

A question for Microsoft Access gurus: Could both the Davis-Monthan Airfield and FAA databases be downloaded to your computer, then a comparison routine written to riffle through the registration number fields? When common registration numbers are found, the output of the sort could be a third file containing only those registrations held in common between the two databases. This file could then be used to further document the whereabouts and condition of Davis-Monthan aircraft (pictures; interviews with present owners, etc.)

If someone would like to contribute their skills and do this comparison, I will see that it gets on this Web site for all to benefit.

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