THE DAVIS-MONTHAN AIRFIELD REGISTER
is what this Web site
is all about...
WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE?
What I intend to do is share with you the stories behind
handwritten entries made in a fragile paper Register 88 years
for a sample of a Register page). I encourage you to explore
the stories via dropdown menus on the home pages for THE REGISTER,
PEOPLE, PLACES, AIRPLANES and EVENTS.
I supplement your menu queries with information from a searchable
that mirrors the Register page images. Then I guide you toward
other interesting and relevant information via links, either
internal to this site, or to external Web sites or other
If you would like your own copy of the Register I'm holding at right, in a wire-bound
book (340 pages) with three chapters of useful tabulated
cross-references from the database, click
here. Other books by your Webmaster are linked in the left and right sidebars.
WHERE TO BEGIN?
You can enter the database in many different ways. By year
is one way, which you can do with the dropdown menu below.
You'll soon want to refine your searches by focusing particularly
on one aspect of the database. For example, you may also search
the Register by PEOPLE, AIRPLANES, PLACES and EVENTS. Click
the buttons above right to explore those options.
If you're like me, as you search through the Register and
play with the menus available on this Web site you'll hear
round engines in the distance and smell dust, oil and old
leather. You'll feel desert heat and low-altitude turbulence,
and overhear quiet, considered, confident conversations between
and among the aviation pioneers who signed this register so
long ago where it sat in the office on the northwest corner
of the Old Airfield.
As you read this today, this site is still under development.
It'll probably never be finished. That's why, as frustrating
as it may sound, you may get different, and new, answers if
you come here next week. Notice the "What's
New on the Site?" button at the bottom of the page.
Please bookmark that page, and come back to see what's new
from time to time. The site changes almost daily.
SOME OTHER DETAILS ABOUT THE REGISTER
AND THE DATABASE
How did I come to the Register? I bought a copy of the Register in a used book store in Alexandria, VA, June 13, 2000. If you spend any time on my Web site, you'll understand that my life has not been the same since I first opened my purchase. You'll understand why the following quote by Johnson clearly understates my efforts.
“I saw that one enquiry only gave occasion to another, that book referred to book, that to search was not always to find, and to find was not always to be informed.”
Samuel Johnson, 1805
Quantitatively, the register contains 3,704 records, which I transcribed
into a Microsoft Access database. My database is mounted on the server,
and it is the driver behind the drop down menus on the main
pages that enable you to view records. The database is essentially
what makes this Web site work. Another way of saying that is this site is database-driven: each of your clicks on a drop down menu is fulfilled uniquely from the information in the database. Your pathway of exploration through my site will be uniquely different from the next visitor's pathway.
I have performed some routine, "big picture",
descriptive analyses of traffic numbers by year, origins
and destinations, categories of pilots and aircraft, and
times of arrival and departure via simple sorts and queries.
These results are cited where appropriate throughout the
Web site. One example is my business analysis of Standard Air Lines (PDF 1.0Mb).
THINGS YOU CAN DO TO CONTRIBUTE TO
If you are an academic type, and find, as I found, interesting
and original topics to excavate, polish and render for publication,
I encourage you to publish results from using my database.
Please CONTACT ME for citation
and/or collaboration courtesies, and please send a file (PDF) of your finished product to upload to this
site (or send a link).
Need some ideas? I have performed no historical analysis
of military pilots from the register. There are many junior
flight officers (Eaker, Tunner, Spatz, etc.) who flogged the
atmosphere in the southwest between the wars, and who later became
famous. But, what were they doing when they landed at the
Davis-Monthan Airfield? Can their activities that brought
them to Tucson be cross-referenced with data from various
Army Air Corps archives?
And the passenger list is mostly virgin territory for analysis.
Who were the (at least) 2,061 unique passengers who landed 4,048 times,
mostly in open cockpits, and trusted their pilots, mostly unseen,
behind them or closed behind cockpit doors?
More ideas? There are 99 Golden Age aircraft marques represented
in the Register; over 2,000 individual aircraft with registration
numbers just begging to be traced and investigated. Do any
of the aircraft still exist? If so, where? Does someone out
there have the skills to cross-check my database with the
current online FAA aircraft registry?
TECHNICAL DETAILS REGARDING THE REGISTER PAGE IMAGES
One of the key features of this Web site is you may view
high-quality, color images of each of the 218 pages of the
The good news about this is, each page is rendered in its
original color. Signatures in blue, red and black inks, pencil,
and the smudges, blots, tears and patina of age are there
for you to enjoy.
The not so good news is, for older computers or dialup connections,
image download times may be long (in the minute + range).
I have done everything I can do to speed things up, given
today's Web design and communications technologies.
One thing I've done, in order to reduce transmission times,
is used PhotoShop to "slice" the whole page images into
five slices per page (a slice takes less time to download).
Slices are called out and displayed, for example,
when you choose to look at a specific person, place or airplane
from a dropdown menu. Databased information is juxtaposed,
and links are established based on that slice of information.
You always have the choice to download the entire page,
I calculate that a page slice should take you about 3 seconds
to download using a broadband connection and a computer
with a relatively current processor. Figure on maybe 5 times
that duration to download a whole page. Your results may
vary, but I'll bet most of you will be pleasantly surprised
with download speed and image quality.
As luck would have it, a few of the slices partially cut
through some of the names and other information. The solution
is to download the whole page, then you'll be able to see
The site and graphics were designed for a 1024x768 screen
aspect ratio. Older computers may use the scroll bar at the
bottom of the screen to move the display left and right.
Let's all be grateful to the Office of Natural/Cultural
History at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base for providing
the color images for our enjoyment. This site wouldn't be
as meaningful without them.
Finally, the contractor commissioned by the Air Force to
photograph the Register crafted a Web site that provides hints
of what the book reveals. That site is available here (no longer available as of 12/30/08; if it appears again, please let me know).
UPLOADED: 05/05 REVISED: 02/10/06, 02/14/06, 06/15/06, 12/30/08