LOCKHEED VEGA Model 5B NC49M
A LONG LIFE ENDED BY HEAT IN SITKA, ALASKA
This airplane is a Lockheed Vega Model 5B (S/N 101; ATC
#227) manufactured during October 1929 by Lockheed Aircraft
CA. It left the factory with
a Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine (S/N 2097) of unspecified
HP. It was a seven-place airplane.
There is no record of its use during the next four months. But,
we do know that it landed at Tucson on February 12, 1930 flown by
Wiley Post. He carried a plane full of five unidentified
passengers. They were eastbound from Burbank to St.
A couple of weeks later, NC49M sold on March 1, 1930 to
Asa Candler, Jr.*, Atlanta, GA. While still owned
by Candler, NC49M was modified by having its baggage compartment
sealed off under ATC memo 2-274 of September 29, 1930.
NC49M then began a series of transfers and accidents that
led eventually to its demise. On July 1, 1931 it was
sold to Detroit Aircraft Corporation, Detroit, MI, who transferred
it on July 5, 1932 to Hanford’s Tri-State Airlines,
Inc., Sioux City, IA.
NC49M While in the Hands of Detroit Aircraft Corporation, October 21, 1931
Below, the annotation from the back of the image above. The airplane was used by Charles Lindbergh, as noted, flown to meet him at Victoria, B.C., Canada by Register pilot Vance Breese.
NC49M While in the Hands of Detroit Aircraft Corporation, Annotation
As happens sometimes, images show up in old albums that can place a Register airplane at a known place, flown by a known pilot on a known date. The images below were taken at Winchester, VA as Lindbergh flew NC49M east. Site visitor Dan Rogers shares them with us. Mr. Rogers states that the photo album belonged to local aviation entrepreneur, "... George J. Scheder who should also get credit for the photos of the Vega. His partner was Charles "Duke" Douglass. Their parachutist was George DeGrange. Another member of their team was "Squeek" Burdett whose specialty was inverted flight."
NC49M on the Ground at Winchester, VA, 1931 (Source: Rogers)
Mr. Rogers says about the images shared with him by the photographer's son, "The local airport here in the 1930's was Byrd Field and it was operated by a gentleman with a keen interest in photography. He routinely took photos of different aircraft and people passing through town." The photographer was, "... Frank Turgeon, Jr. who got his start in aerial photography in WW1. He went on to become an aerial movie photographer for early aviation movies in Hollywood." The dark paint on the top of the wing was characteristically "International Orange" for visibility in case the airplane went down unexpectedly.
NC49M Aloft at Winchester, VA, 1931 (Source: Rogers)
NC49M suffered an accident at Minneapolis,
MN on September 7, 1934 and was repaired. Below, another image of the airplane with wheel pants and a different paint scheme.
NC49M, Date Unknown, Location is Lockheed Factory, Burbank, CA
It was transferred (change in name only) to Hanford Airlines,
Inc. on July 16, 1936 and suffered another accident at Ellendale,
ND on August 1, 1937. It was repaired again, only to
be sold again eight months later to aircraft broker and dealer
Charles H. Babb, Glendale, CA.
Babb sold it to Alaska Air Transport, Inc., Juneau, AK on
April 17, 1941. There it was converted to a Vega 5C
and flown on floats with Wasp engine S/N 4528. AAT
became part of Alaska Coastal Airlines and the airplane was
transferred to their name as of January 26, 1942.
It flew the next decade in Alaska. It was destroyed
by fire at Sitka, AK on November 14, 1952.
Asa G. Candler, Jr., with his partner Frank
Robinson, was founder and owner of the Coca-Cola Company. He
was, as it were, “keeper of the special formula”. Refer
to the following quote from Business Week magazine at this
which has everything you’ll ever want to know
about Coke and Pepsi:
|"Much has been said of the "magic
the syrup, especially about the ingredient known as Merchandise
7X. Charles Howard Candler, son of Asa Griggs Candler …,
wrote in 1950 that for some years the syrup was made
only by Asa Candler and his partner Frank Robinson. The
formula was later transmitted to a few trusted employees,
but only "by word of mouth." "[O]ne
of the proudest moments of my life," the younger Candler recalled, came
when my father, shortly after the turn of the century, initiated me into the
mysteries of the secret flavoring formula, inducting me as it were, into the "Holy
of Holies." No written memorandum was permitted, no written formulae were
shown. Containers of ingredients, from which the labels had been removed, were
identified only by sight, smell, and remembering where each was put on the shelf....
To be safe, father stood by me several times to insure the integrity of the batches
and to satisfy himself that his youthful son had learned his lesson and could
be depended upon."
Despite his key role in the American refreshment
G. Candler, Jr.” has only a modest Web presence (18 Google
hits as of the upload date below). Besides being the keeper
of the Coke formula, he was an aircraft owner and strong supporter
of early aviation. Most significantly, Candler allowed
the center of the oval race track at his home in Atlanta to
be used as a landing field for aircraft. Consequently, the
City of Atlanta purchased this area in 1929 and founded its
municipal airport, which eventually became the world’s
busiest: Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. And
his Coca-Cola stands today as the second most widely understood
term in the world, after "okay". I expect "Muhammad Ali" would be up there in the rankings, too.
Interestingly, Candler has another link to one of our Davis-Monthan
Ruth Nichols. Nichols
flew a Lockheed Orion 9, registration number NC988Y (not
cited in our Register), owned by Candler, Jr. in the Bendix
race in 1933. However,
you will find no mention of her in the Bendix race results,
as it took her 3 days to get to Los Angeles. For an
image of Ruth in the Candler Orion, see this link.
A FURTHER DIGRESSION...
Connections between Candler and his airfield are made in strange ways. Here's an example that probably wouldn't have happened had Candler not been an ardent fan of aviation and hosted this event at his airfield in October, 1929.
Site visitor Eric Sorg found the following string-tag ticket for the 1929 Ford Reliability Tour and offers it for our enjoyment. The admission, 25¢, was good for one admission on Saturday and Sunday, October 12-13, 1929. The Tour arrived at Atlanta, Candler Field, from Macon, GA on October 12th and departed for Nashville, TN on the 14th. Unlike the 1928 Tour, the Tour for 1929 did not pass through Tucson, its itinerary making it only as far west as Wichita, KS.
Ticket, 1929 Ford Reliability Tour, Candler Field, Atlanta, GA (Source: Sorg)
Ticket, 1929 Ford Reliability Tour, Candler Field, Atlanta, GA, Back (Source: Sorg)
Of equal interest is where Mr. Sorg found his ticket. He found it physically adhered to the wall of the glove box in a 1927 Hupmobile. Below, the ticket in situ against the back wall. The other string tag lying flat is unrelated to aviation, it being for the antique fire extingisher which is still in the car.
Location of Ticket Find, Glovebox, 1927 Hupmobile (Source: Sorg)
Below, the Hupmobile. We can picture his car pulled into the dusty parking lot in Atlanta that October afternoon, no doubt driven by an "air minded" citizen.
Location of Ticket Find, 1927 Hupmobile (Source: Sorg)
Below, a period photograph of the car and its owners, Jennie, Elmer, Teddy and Rinty. The date is December 3, 1932. Coincidentally, this is the year that the original Rin Tin Tin died at age 14. Note the tropical vegetation.
1927 Hupmobile With Jennie, Elmer, Teddy and Rinty, December 3, 1932 (Source: Sorg)
It is safe to assume that the 1929 Air Tour ticket is in the glove compartment behind Jennie and Teddy. Thanks to Mr. Sorg for sharing his unique finds with us.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 06/06/06 REVISED: 07/29/08, 11/12/10, 09/03/11, 09/09/11