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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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This information comes from the listings of Non-Prefixed and Non-Suffixed aircraft reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC.

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http://www.cafepress.com/content/global/img/spacer.gifThe Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of www.dmairfield.org and the 10th year of effort on a project dedicated to analyze and exhibit the history embodied in the Register of the Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ. This book includes over thirty people, aircraft and events that swirled through Tucson between 1925 and 1936. It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders. Order your copy at the link, or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author.  ISBN 978-0-9843074-4-9.

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WACO UIC NC13402

Registration Number NC13402

Part of Earhart’s Support Infrastructure & More

This airplane is a Waco UIC (S/N 3748; ATC #499) manufactured in May 1933 by the Waco Aircraft Co., Troy, OH.  It left the factory with a Continental R-670 engine (S/N 700) of 210 HP. It was a four-place airplane, weighing 2,800 pounds gross.

NC13402, Date Unknown

It was purchased on May 22, 1933 by Edward L. Erickson and John L. Remmert, Waco dealers, of the Floyd Bennett Airport, NY, NY. They sold it on May 9, 1934 to Waco Sales of New York, Inc., Roosevelt Field, Mineola, NY. The president of Waco Sales was Howard Ailor. Below, we see NC13402 in the background.

NC13402, Date Unknown

The women in this image are identified as, standing L to R, Arlene Davis, unidentified, Evelyn Olliphant de Seversky (wife of aircraft designer Alexander Seversky), Marjory Ludwigson, unidentified, unidentified, Mrs. I.J. Fox (race sponsor), Annette Gipson (race namesake), Suzanne Humphreys. Seated L to R, Edith Descomb, Frances Marsalis (worked in Waco sales at Roosevelt Field; killed in airplane crash the following year), Helen Richey, Amelia Earhart, Amy Mollison, and Ruth Nichols. Further discussion of the image is in the right side bar.

The photograph below, courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr Stream (SDAM), shows what is probably NC13402 (registration partially readable on the starboard top wing) behind Amelia Earhart (far left) and three unidentified women. But that is not what is interesting about this photograph. The important element here is that the women are on roller skates.

Amelia Earhart (R), With Three Women on Skates, ca. April, 1935 (Source: SDAM)

 

Now comes the airplane to Tucson on April 10, 1935. It is flown by Ailor, carrying two passengers, Bill Lear and A.E. Moreland. They had arrived from El Paso, TX westbound for Los Angeles, CA.  Ailor noted in the Remarks column of the Register, "Radio compass to Earhart for Mexico City hop." They were carrying one of the early radio compasses developed by Lear’s embryonic instrument company. This device was the subject of an article that appeared on page 257 in the August, 1935 Popular Mechanics magazine, below. The aircraft pictured is probably NC13402.

Radio Course Indicator, Popular Mechanics, August, 1935 (Source: Web)
Radio Course Indicator, Popular Mechanics, August, 1935 (Source: Web)

Later in April, Earhart set a speed record on a solo flight from Los Angeles to Mexico City and then set another record from Mexico City to New York.  We don’t know what effect the compass had on her navigational efficiency or overall time, but we can assume it was positive.

Although the NASM record for this airplane does not list it, this Waco was reputedly sold to Howard Hughes and flown to him in Florida in 1934. We guess he never accepted it. The pilot who flew it there, Monty Chumly provides this PDF image of his pilot log for March 1934. Lines 4-8 of his log document the flight from New York Roosevelt Field to Florida Palm Beach during that delivery. Note that his next stop is Rio.

Montgomery Chumly was the South American Waco Dealer from 1935-1940. He was solely responsible for all Wacos sold to South and Central America. Subsequently, he finally quit flying his airplane (Pitts Special) at 88 years old! He is now 96 and still remembers well the era of our website (I have word, as of October '07, that Mr. Chumly has passed on, can you confirm?).

NC13402 must have stayed in Rio only briefly, because on October 18, 1935 it was sold to Lear Developments, Inc. (see above) and used to further develop the radio direction finder (RDF). The image below shows a RDF loop antenna installed on top of the airplane.

A year later the NC13402 was sold to Ward-Pearson, Inc., of Roosevelt Field, NY. This began an almost decade-long annual turnover of the airplane to new hands. From New York the airplane migrated to the Midwest, winding up with Air City, Inc. of Sturtevant, WI on May 14, 1944. They bought it for $2,950 and performed some maintenance and repairs, including a new R-670 engine.

NC13402, Date Unknown

 

On February 29, 1950 Air City sold the airplane to Frank Hay of Racine, WI. It then changed hands another three times, underwent some wing repairs and the installation of Edo P-3300 floats and water rudders. Cancellation of the registration was requested on October 21, 1952 by final owner F.J. LaValley of Tupper Lake, NY.  The reason given was, “due to accident.”  The records were closed on October 28, 1952.

But this wasn’t the final word.  An enquiry came to the FAA on October 10, 1975 for a chain of title. Although it is not clear, the airframe may have still been in existence in 1975.

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Waco NC13402 Today
Waco NC13402 Today

UPDATE: This airframe IS still with us. The grandfather of a site visitor from Florida owns it. This email of June 19, 2006 provides current status:

"... I enjoy this site very much and would like to contribute some information. This Waco UIC is owned by a good friend of mine (my Grandfather). As of now it is disassembled (no plans to restore yet), but the airframe still exists."

And further: "...The building the plane is in suffered some damage from the last hurricane and the roof collapsed this past heavy rain we had [tropical storm Alberto]. The fuselages inside are fine. A couple wings (to which plane I don't know [he owns NC11489, too]) got damaged but they can be fixed. My Grandpa and I are the 'recovery team' and I'll try to snap a few shots while we try to move the parts to another hangar."

More as I receive it.

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 03/27/06 REVISED: 04/01/06, 06/21/06, 11/07/07, 03/24/14, 11/23/14

 
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Someone has helped. President (as of the upload date of this page) Andy Heins of the National Waco Club sent the three images at left. Andy  runs the day to day business of the Club, and we should all thank him for the effort he expended to help us understand better the Waco aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield way back when.

He also provided Monty Chumly's pilot log.

You can still help, though, if you can positively identify the locations or dates of the images, that would be helpful.

The second image is of great interest to us. It is of a group of female pilots taken during what is probably the June 24,1934 Annette Gipson Race at Floyd Bennett Field, NY..

Amelia Earhart sits center looking out from behind the trophy. She served as starter for the event. It is appropriate that Amelia be in this photograph with NC13402 (in case you haven't noticed, that is our subject airplane at rear!), because later, in 1935, it was the airplane that brought her radio compass to her, hand-delivered by Mr. Lear.

In this image, though, NC13402 can't be more than a few weeks old (it was manufactured in May 1933). Perhaps it was set up by Waco Sales President Ailor inside the fence as a static display at the Race.

And what about those guys in fedoras and caps hanging out on the fence?

The women were identified by site visitor Aaron Perry. If you can identify any more of these pilots, please let me know.

 
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