I am combining information on these three pilots on one
page, because their lives are so entwined in aviation. Henry
and Felix signed the Davis-Monthan as pilots; Alice, although
a pilot herself, visits us as a passenger flying with Felix.
As well as being one of the premier United States corporate
families since 1802, the
three members of the duPont family celebrated on this page
gave patronage, service, prizes and records to the aviation
community of their time.
The duPont name is one of several
global corporate giant families recorded in the Davis-Monthan
Register. Other examples include: Erle Halliburton, Donald
Douglas and Mr. & Mrs.
Anthony Fokker signed in as passengers. George
Westinghouse signed in as a pilot. As well, a large group of early aircraft
manufacturers signed the Register (Beech, Cessna, Piper,
Stinson, etc.). Henry and Felix duPont landed piloting their
own aircraft. Felix carried sister Alice as passenger.
HENRY BELIN DUPONT: Of the three members of the duPont family
who landed at Tucson, Henry Belin duPont was probably the
most supportive of the developing aviation infrastructure
in the U.S. at the time. A biography
hints as his contributions. He was also well-known for supporting
education and public works. In the photo, above left, H.B.
duPont and Charles Lindbergh
pose for photographers when Lindbergh visited Delaware October
21-22, 1927 during Lindy's U.S. tour.
H.B. duPont visited the Davis-Monthan Airfield three times
flying Buhl Airster NC303. NC303 was the first production
model J-4 Airster. Photo, right, from Juptner, is of this
very interesting and ground-breaking airplane. This aircraft
was assigned the very first Approved Type Certificate (ATC
#1), issued with some fanfare on March 29, 1927. Thereafter,
each aircraft type built in the United States would have an
approved type certificate issued by the federal government.
H.B. carried a single passenger each time he landed at Tucson.
On February 8, 1927 (notice that duPont bought and flew his
Buhl the month before the ATC was issued), he carried J.W.
Beretta enroute from El Paso, TX to San
Francisco, CA. As
far as I can make out, Beretta (1899-1992) was an engineer.
It must have been a chilly voyage from the east to west coasts
in February in this open cockpit aircraft. An image of passenger Beretta can be found at the Charles Cooper Photograph and Document Collection available for view elsewhere on this web site. Download the Ryan NR1766 "Fort Worth" PDF from near the bottom of that page and look at page 62. His February 8th visit was worthy of a few words in the local newspaper, which may be viewed at the page for John D. Dodge.
When he landed at Tucson on September 10 and September
20, 1928, he carried Roy Langham as passenger. I know nothing
about Langham. Anybody know? However, the flight dates and
itineraries (to and from Los Angeles) coincide with the 1928
National Air Races (named
"On to Los Angeles" that year).
At Los Angeles,
Henry separately entered his Bellanca aircraft (Model CH-200, NC4799,
piloted by Victor Dallin)
in the Speed and Efficiency contests. Henry and Dallin took
2nd place in the Speed race, with a time of 28:39:02 and
a speed of 104.65MPH. Besides $450 cash, they won the Aviation
Town and Country Club Trophy. Victor went on to take first
place in the Efficiency contest, winning $1,200. Near a
decade later, at age forty-one, H.B. duPont was elected vice-president
and member of the Executive Committee of his family company.
ALEXIS FELIX DUPONT: Felix duPont was born in Wilmington,
DE on October 2, 1905. His activities on behalf of aviation
have impact to this day. In 1950, at his Wilmington, Delaware,
law offices, the mission of the contemporary Aircraft Owners
and Pilots Association was drafted: "…To promote
safety in every manner in all phases of aviation, and to engage
in research and investigation upon, and the dissemination
of, the science and scientific aspects of aviation and kindred
His NASM biographical file holds a couple of formatted biographical
sketches. He attended the "usual" schools for his
socioeconomic status. He spent two years at Princeton, but
did not graduate. Instead, he entered the Air Corps and learned
to fly in 1927-1928 at the training centers at Brooks and
Kelly Fields. He reached the rank of 1st lieutenant. He held
Commerial, Instrument and Instructor ratings (Transport Pilot
license #872). Photo, left, from the New York Times, July
During 1929 (with a year of flying experience) he was test
pilot for the Fokker Aircraft Corporation. This may explain
his landing in Tucson on April 24, 1930 flying a Fokker F-11A,
NC339M. Also in 1930, he worked for Luddington Air Lines.
The corporate name for Luddington was New York, Philadelphia
and Washington Airway Corporation. At
Luddington he was a dispatcher. It was a short-lived position,
as Luddington was absorbed by Eastern Airlines in 1933.
From 1932-36 he worked for his family's company, E.I. duPont
de Nemours, Wilmington, DE. After that he moved to the Fiduciary
Counsel, Inc. in New York City in 1937, and to the Elton Investment
Co. in Wilmington, DE in 1938, where he was in investment
In the early 1940s he moved on to be vice president and
director of All American Aviation, Inc. and Bellanca Aircraft
Corporation, as well as a director of American Export Airlines,
Inc. He held memberships in a number of prestigious clubs,
societies and associations. He was also among his family's
company Finance Committee, along with four other duPonts.
His marriage in 1931 to Eleanor Hoyt, also a pilot and flying
enthusiast, ended in divorce in 1945.
ALICE F. DUPONT: Alice landed on March 4, 1931. she was
sister of Felix, who was flying Stearman NC6485. She accompanied
Felix as an 18 year-old passenger (she had learned to fly
in mid-1930). I do not know if she flew this airplane on
any of the legs of their journey from Delaware to California.
Photo of Alice, right, from The Sportsman Pilot, 1933, which is available in her NASM biographical file.
She pursued a wide variety of interests. An advanced instrument-rated
aircraft pilot, she flew an open-cockpit plane up the Amazon
River in 1932 along with her brother, Richard C. duPont.
During World War II, she served as a flight instructor for
military pilots in Long Island, NY and upon the war's conclusion,
piloted one of the pioneer single-engine airplane flights
between New York and Buenos Aires with her husband, James
Paul Mills, whom she married in 1935.
After WWII she was involved in philanthropic activities,
environmental affairs and thoroughbred horse racing. She
pioneered numerous family planning programs in the course
of her work for Planned Parenthood in Northern Virginia,
where she lived. She was an active proponent of conservation
efforts in Virginia, and championed the preservation of
scenic open spaces. She promoted the efforts of numerous
not-for-profit organizations throughout the nation. Her
life long passion of thoroughbred horse racing and breeding
was evidenced by numerous stakes-winners campaigned through
her Hickory Tree Farm near Middleburg, VA.
Alice was born in Wilmington, DE December 13, 1912, she was
the daughter of A. Felix duPont, Sr. and Mary Chichester duPont.
She died March 13, 2002 in VA, at 89 years of age after a
brief illness. Her net worth at death was estimated at $450
million. Her husband died in 1987.
Dossier 2.1.19 Henry Belin
Dossier 2.1.46 Alexis Felix
Dossier 2.3.6 Alice
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 01/08/06 REVISED: 03/16/06, 09/11/06/ 10/30/07, 03/08/08, 02/05/09, 03/28/10