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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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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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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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Surprisingly, there is no biographical file for pilot Gilpin in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC.

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Ruth M. Reinhold's 1982 book entitled, "Sky Pioneering: Arizona in Aviation History" (University of Arizona Press, Tucson. ISBN 0-8165-0737-6). Refer to pages 125 and 203 et seq. for information about Mr. Gilpin.

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CHARLES WILLIAM "BILL" GILPIN

C.W. Gilpin, Undated (Source: Underwood)
C.W. Gilpin, Undated (Source: Underwood)

Pilot Gilpin was a southwest charter and air transport operator. Although his name was Charles, he went by Bill. Portrait, right, shared with us by friend of dmairfield.org, John Underwood.

In the mid 1920s he was chauffeur for Col. Jack Greenway, a principal stockholder in Calumet Mining Company. They drove between Ajo, Phoenix, Tucson, Douglas and Bisbee, AZ for business. Being rough roads, without air conditioned cars, they soon acquired an airplane and exploited Gilpin's reputation as a well-known pilot in southwest Arizona and northern Mexico.

Col. Greenway died in 1926. After that Gilpin carried passengers mostly along the southern tier between Los AngelesLordsburgEl Paso. It is during these flights we find him landing at Tucson (right column).

A rare motion picture of Gilpin and two of his aircraft (see below) can be seen at the link (YouTube video; 10:54). The scenes of Gilpin and his airplanes appears about 1:25 into the film. The other pilot in the movie appears to be George Farnham, who is also pictured below. Gilpin wears the lighter pilot uniform, similar to the one at right. He admires a writing instrument in the movie.

 

 

Gilpin Air Lines Brochure, 1933 (Source: Gilpin)
Gilpin Air Lines Brochure, 1933

In1930, Greenway's widow went into the passenger business with Mr. Gilpin under the name Gilpin and Greenway Airlines Company, Inc., or G&G Airlines. "Gilpin", as the line was called, grew into one of the largest fixed base companies in the southwest. G&G flew between Los Angeles and Tijuana, carrying "parched" Californians to the tracks and gambling casinos in Mexico (remember, Prohibition was still the law of the land until December, 1933). Mrs. Greenway shows up in the biography of another Register pilot, Ben Catlin.

Image, left is the front of a Gilpin timetable from March 15,1933. Below is the brochure opened up to reveal the schedules and pricing.

Bill also flew Mrs. Greenway on some of her business trips and made charter flights. During one charter to Mexico City in July 1932, he made a forced landing and was killed instantly when the plane's engine detached and struck him on the head. His four passengers were injured, but survived.

Please direct your browser to The Charles W. "Bill" Gilpin Image and Document Collection. This Collection, donated to us by Gilpin's family, provides additional views of C.W. Gilpin, his family, airplanes, and documentation related to his airline. Thanks to Clarence B. Gilpin, nephew of C.W. Gilpin, and his family for sharing with us this Collection of images and documents, as well as the brochures on this page.

Gilpin landed eleven times at Tucson. During 1927, he landed six times in a cabin aircraft of his own design and manufacture. You can see this airplane at the Collection link, above. His other five landings were in Fairchild aircraft. He landed once in NC1620 on February 2, 1928, and four times between February and June, 1929 FC-2 in NC8002. I have no information for either of these aircraft. He carried passengers on six of his eleven visits to Tucson, including, on May 18, 1927, his brother Frank, who was a minister in Fort Collins, CO. He also carried members of the Max Baumkirchner family. Baumkirchner was an early 20th century miner in the Huachuca Mountains area of southern Arizona.

 

Gilpin Air Lines Brochure, 1933 (Source: Gilpin)
Gilpin Air Lines Brochure, 1933

Significantly, Gilpin landed over 35 times at the Grand Central Air Terminal, Glendale, CA flying five aircraft of his fleet. His arrival and departure schedules, and his destinations reflect the data published in his schedules, above and below.

Below, another fare schedule shared with us by site visitor Bob Kittel. The fares on this undated schedule are generally lower than the ones in the schedule above. We can wonder if that means the schedule below is earlier than 1933, and the fares went up.  Or if it is later and the fares went down because of the Depression.

Gilpin Air Lines, Undated Schedule, Front (Source: Kittel)
Gilpin Air Lines, Undated Schedule (Source: Kittel)
Gilpin Air Lines, Undated Schedule, Back (Source: Kittel)
Gilpin Air Lines, Undated Schedule, Back (Source: Kittel)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The back of this schedule is overprinted near the bottom, "FOR MR. ANDERSON" (q.v). The Los Angeles phone number also has a box around it, perhaps directing readers directly to Mr. Anderson in LA.

Gilpin's fleet consisted of several aircraft, some of which are pictured below courtesy of friend of dmairfield.org, John Underwood. They are the Bach NC850E (not a Register airplane) with Gilpin standing by, Fairchild NC9114 and Bach NC8069. NC9114 and 8069 are the aircraft visible in the film linked above.

Gilpin Fleet, Pilots at the Ready, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Underwood)
Gilpin Fleet, Pilots at the Ready, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Underwood)

Following Gilpin's death, Mrs. Greenway gave control of the airline to Walter Douglas, Jr., who continued operating the Tijuana run until the end of Prohibition. Douglas then moved his fleet to Tucson where he set up operations at the Davis-Monthan Airfield (see the link for images and text related to the "Gilpin" operation at Tucson). Below, courtesy of site visitor Jim Cantwell, is an image of a piece of accounts receivable stationery from the period when Douglas operated Gilpin Air Lines. The corporate logo is embossed and raised on this original sheet.

Gilpin Air Lines Accounts Receivable Stationery Form (Source: Webmaster via Cantwell)
Gilpin Air Lines Accounts Receivable Stationery Form (Source: Cantwell)

Update of 12/28/09. Site visitor Steven Nagle provides the following photo and information. The airplane, although unidentified, appears to be a Fairchild (because of the window design, it's probably not the Fairchild 71, NC9114, which Gilpin purchased August 26, 1931).

George Farnham and Three Others, See Text. (Source: Nagle)
C.W. Gilpin and Three Others, See Text. (Source: Nagle)

Mr. Nagle states, "According to what was written on the reverse of this photograph, the people in the photo are as follows (left to right) - 1) Photographer, M. J. Oelke, 2) Gilpin [Airline] pilot [George Farnham], 3) Charles Teever of the Isaak Walton League and 4) C. H. Holmes."

In a separate, undated news account from the Los Angeles Herald we find the reason for this newsworthy photo: "Several parties of vacationists frozen in and isolated on the summits of the San Bernardino Mountains by huge snowdrifts had food today because of the daring aerial rescue expedition carried out by the G. and G. Gilpin Airlines. A supply plane dropped several hundred pounds of emergency rations, including supplies for occupants of a small cabin 18 miles east of Lake Arrowhead, and thus perhaps saved the lives of half a dozen persons. At the same time the plane had dipped low over Mount Wilson and also over Lake Arrowhead, where 2000 motorists were stalled in the snow, and snapped a number of sensational camera views of the Arctic-like wilderness of the mountain tops.  George Farnham was pilot of the mercy plane. He was accompanied by M. J. Oelke, who made the photographs; Charles P. Teever, State President of the Isaak Walton League and C. H. Holmes."

The photographic equipment in the foreground is probably that used to take the "sensational camera views". George Farnham is a Register pilot.

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Dossier 2.1.63

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 08/23/05 REVISED: 09/03/06, 11/18/08, 12/09/08, 12/28/09, 03/05/10, 02/12/12, 07/10/12, 08/09/12, 07/09/13

 
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U.S. BORDER PATROL

C.W. Gilpin landed at Tucson eleven times between November 13, 1926 and June 13, 1929.

Although these dates were before the formation of G&G Airlines, his landings drew the attention of the U.S. Border Patrol more than any other pilot (four inspections in 11 flights, see the REMARKS columns on his individual landing records at THE REGISTER link above), thus setting his reputation for satisfying "parched" citizens.

See one of his airplanes at 8003. Another, Fairchild NC1620 is available at the link courtesy of the Cosgrove Collection.

I am looking for images of pilot Gilpin and his airplanes. If you can help, please use this FORM.
 
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