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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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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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LOCKHEED VEGA Model 1 NC31E

LOCKHEED VEGA Model 1 NC31E

FLOWN BY TWO MOST FAMOUS 

This airplane is a Lockheed Vega Model 1 (S/N 36; ATC #49) manufactured in January 1929 by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, CA.  It left the factory with a Wright Whirlwind engine (S/N B9314) of 220 HP.  It was a five-place airplane, painted red and cream.

NC31E was a Lockheed Corporation demonstrator during early 1929.  It sold on September 16, 1929 (actual bill of sale 1/15/30) to Amelia Earhart, New York, NY.  Earhart exchanged for NC31E her other Lockheed Vega, NC6911

She then flew NC31E to third place in the Women’s Air Derby, Santa Monica, CA to Cleveland, OH in August 1929.  She won $875 for her effort.  After the race, Earhart turned NC31E in to the Lockheed Corporation for yet another Vega, NC7952, perhaps the most famous of the Vegas she owned.

During the time the airplane was owned by Lockheed, NC31E landed twice at Tucson, on March 19th and on March 28, 1930.  Both times it was piloted by Wiley Post.  On the 19th he carried two unidentified passengers.  They were eastbound from Burbank to Oklahoma City, OK.  On the 28th, he carried one unidentified passenger.  They were westbound from El Paso, TX to Los Angeles, CA.  No reason was given, either in the Register or the NASM record, for their flights.

Lockheed Vega NC31E, Ca. 1939 (Source: St. Louis University)
Lockheed Vega NC31E, Ca. 1939 (Source: St. Louis University)

Lockheed sold NC31E to Parks Air College, East St. Louis, IL on May 24, 1930.  It was used by the school for instruction and charter.  A half-cowl speed ring was installed on the engine. An undated photograph of NC31E is at the link. That photo is reproduced at left in smaller format.

NC31E flew with the school for seven years.  On March 8, 1934 it suffered an accident at East St. Louis at the hands of pilot George J. Gruen.  The right wing, aileron and shock absorbers were repaired. No report on injuries or lack thereof to pilot or passengers.

During the time it was owned by Parks, Charles H. Babb of Glendale, CA was trying to sell this aircraft to a buyer in Australia, intending to do it via Canada, due to U.K. restrictions on imported aircraft.  The deal was not made.

The airplane then moved west.  First it was sold to the St. Louis Flying Service, St. Louis, MO on June 26, 1937.  They then sold it on August 13, 1937 to Mountain Flying Service, Denver, CO.  The file on NC31E was closed by the CAA on November 1, 1938.  There was no explanation for the closure.  Does anyone KNOW the fate of this airplane? No further information.

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UPLOADED: 04/15/06 REVISED: 09/30/12

 
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I'm looking for photographs of this airplane to include on this page. If you have one or more you'd like to share, please use this FORM to contact me.

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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 the 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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