AIR RACE!!

View products that support dmairfield.org

OTHER RESOURCES

Art Goebel's Own Story by Art Goebel (edited by G.W. Hyatt) is written in language that expands for us his life as a Golden Age aviation entrepreneur, who used his aviation exploits to build a business around his passion.  Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-1-8.

Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race is available at the link. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. What was it like to fly from Oakland to Honolulu in a single-engine plane during August 1927? Was the 25,000 dollar prize worth it? Did the resulting fame balance the risk? For the first time ever, this book presents the pilot and navigator's stories written by them within days of their record-setting adventure. Pilot Art Goebel and navigator William V. Davis, Jr. take us with them on the Woolaroc, their orange and blue Travel Air monoplane (NX869) as they enter the hazardous world of Golden Age trans-oceanic air racing. ISBN 978-0-9843074-3-2.

---o0o---

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.

---o0o---

An article about Dole passenger Mildred Doran appeared in Air & Space, April, 2011.

OTHER BOOKS FOR YOU

Military Aircraft of the Davis Monthan Register, 1925-1936 is available at the link. This book describes and illustrates with black & white photographs the majority of military aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield between 1925 and 1936. The book includes biographies of some of the pilots who flew the aircraft to Tucson as well as extensive listings of all the pilots and airplanes. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-2-5.

---o0o---

The 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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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.

---o0o---

 
Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register
CulturalMotion PicturesFriendsNon Profit statusProducts and services
ReferencesPublicationsCollectionsGuest EditorsPress Coverage

THE GREAT TRANS-PACIFIC DOLE RACE OF 1927

Unlike the Ford Reliability Tour of July, 1928, the Dole Race did not pass through Tucson. However, our Register captures the signatures of pilots and copilots of race aircraft. Also, with high probability, at least one of the Race aircraft, the Buhl Air-Sedan NX2915, as well as race officials, passed through Tucson at various times. This page doesn't aspire to be a broad summary of the Race. Rather, I hope to present items that you won't find elsewhere.

As background, the books by Forden and Scheppler are exhaustive expositions of Dole Race details, results and aftermath. This page focuses only on those entities that touched the Davis-Monthan Register, which is the focus of this Web site. The Dole Race began August 16, 1927 at Oakland, CA and terminated at Honolulu, T.H. the next day. The winning airplane burned 306 gallons of gas (out of 417 gallons on board), and spent 26 hours, 17 minutes and 33 seconds covering the 2,400 miles between Oakland and Honolulu. 

Winners' Viewpoints: CLICK TO ORDER!! Winners' Viewpoints CLICK TO ORDER!!

The Dole Race was not a first. The Pacific had been crossed by airplane twice in the months before. First by Register pilots Albert Hegenberger and Lester Maitland flying the Fokker 26-202, "Bird of Paradise." And second by civilians Ernest L. Smith and Emory Bronte (neither Register pilots). They flew the route in 25:36 on July 15, 1927, a full month before the Dole. The Dole Race was the first time prize money was offered, and that's generally why it stands out as a "first."

The winning pilot, Art Goebel, appearing at left in the book cover at right, is one of our Register pilots. Goebel and his navigator, Navy Lt. William V. Davis, Jr. (on the right), won $25,000 for their effort. Their navigational equipment used by Davis consisted of an early A-N beam tracking radio, previously used by Smith & Bronte. That, a well-calibrated compass and a Pioneer drift sight, are credited with keeping them on course.  Other competitors were not so well-prepared or so lucky.  Of eleven entrants, there were eight starters.  Only one other made it to Hawaii. Martin Jensen & Paul Schluter - neither Register pilots - flew the other airplane, the Breese high-wing monoplane Aloha, NX914 (not a Register airplane).  Two competitors crashed on takeoff, two returned to California with mechanical problems, and two were not seen again, undoubtedly lost at sea.

Art Goebel (R) and Bill Davis, Dole Winners, 1927 (Source: Davis)
Art Goebel (R) and Bill Davis, Dole Winners, 1927 (Source: Davis)

 

Two books, authored by your Webmaster and cited at the top of the left sidebar, are based on Goebel, Davis and the Dole Race. Unique, never before published, photographs of Goebel, navigator Davis and their airplane, the Travel Air 5000 christened Woolaroc (NX869, not a Register airplane) are found throughout those two books. An annotated bibliography rounds out both books for site visitors who want to explore the Dole Race in more detail.

Art Goebel landed at Tucson five times between 1928 and 1931. Davis did not accompany him on any of these flights, and he appears nowhere in the Register as either pilot or passenger. After the Dole, Davis did, however, rise in the ranks of the Navy, having responsibilities for testing aircraft, administering training and testing programs at Patuxent River, and retiring as a Vice Admiral. His son wrote the Foreword for "Winners' Viewpoints."

Below, second place winners Jensen (R) and Schluter. Schluter holds a Pioneer drift sight used for estimating the effects of wind on the Aloha's course. Note the lei painted across the airplane's cowl. Photographs of vintage Pioneer drift sight may be viewed at the link.

Martin Jensen (R) & Paul Schluter, Pilot and Navigator of the Aloha, Ca. 1927 (Source: Kalina)
Martin Jensen (R) & Paul Schluter, Pilot and Navigator of the Aloha, Ca. 1927 (Source: Kalina)

Arthur C. Goebel was born October 19, 1895; he died in Los Angeles, CA at age 78 on December 3, 1973.  He was buried on December 8, 1973 at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA.  He had prodigious skills as a pilot, completing many Golden Age competitive flights that comprise his major claims to fame. They spanned not only the Continental United States and the National Air Races, but also the Pacific Ocean. His fame was sealed in perpetuity by winning the Dole Race. Below, the navigational chart carried aboard the Woolaroc with the great circle route inscribed with position checks by Davis.

Trans-Pacific Chart Plotted, Used and Annotated by Davis, 1927 (Source: Davis)
Trans-Pacific Chart Plotted, Used and Annotated by Davis, 1927 (Source: Davis)

 

Fabric Swatches from The Woolaroc, Showing Colors, 1927 (Source: Davis)
Fabric Swatches from The Woolaroc, Showing Colors, 1927 (Source: Davis)

At right, fabric swatches harvested from the Woolaroc when it was restored and exhibited in the Woolaroc Museum, Bartlesville, OK. The colors are Travel Air Blue and International Orange. Goebel had a fundamental character strength from which arose all success in his life: careful, thoughtful, exhaustive analysis and preparation. 

He was explicit about that when, in 1929, he published a book titled "Art Goebel's Own Story" (left sidebar and below). This is a rare volume, available at only three libraries in the United States when I researched it.  The book is a vignette cast around the life of one pilot from the Golden Age of Flight.  He published his book nine years after he learned to fly, two years after the Dole Race, and 44 years before he departed to his Final Horizon.  His story takes place just shy of half way through his life.

Art Goebel's Own Story: CLICK TO ORDER! Art Goebel's Own Story CLICK TO ORDER!!

 

His book was “self-published” as a marketing tool for “The Art Goebel School of Flying,” his business at the Kansas City (Missouri) Municipal Airport.  Although the book does not go into details, his school was unique in that he employed to teach his students active military (Army and Navy) pilots who were on leave.  These pilots provided the freshest, highest quality instruction available at the time.  His school focused on turning out competent pilots for the growing air transport industry.  In this way, Goebel was a strong promoter of the future of aviation.

Mildred Doran, Ca. 1927 (Source: Davis)
Mildred Doran, Ca. 1927 (Source: Davis)

 

 

 

 

There are five other citations in the Register that are directly related to the Dole Race. First, notably, is the pilot and crew of the Miss Doran. Although their airplane number is not identified in the Register, it was a Buhl (probably NX2915). It landed on Tuesday, July 19, 1927 flown by Dole pilot Augie Pedlar. Based at Flint, MI, he was westbound from El Paso, TX to San Francisco, CA and the start of the Race.

Pedlar was accompanied by his passenger in the Dole Race, Mildred Doran, a Michigan school teacher and the namesake of their airplane. The photograph, right, of Doran shows her powdering her nose. This is the compulsory news pose frequently requested by photographers of female aviators of the Golden Age. Either that or posing for the camera in their "flight togs." Of course, no men were ever asked to show their "togs." She sports five fraternity pins on her breast pocket flap, tokens of good luck from Michigan college boys whom she called her "dancing partners."

Below, Register pilot Augie Pedlar at right and Mildred Doran. The man on the left is Manley Lawling who was to be the flight's navigator. He was replaced at the last minute by Vilas Knope. After two attempts to depart Oakland (the first attempt was aborted due to fouled spark plugs), Pedlar, Doran and Knope were lost over the Pacific during the Race and never heard from again.

Augie Pedlar (R) & Mildred Doran, 1927 (Source: Cosgrove)
Augie Pedlar (R) & Mildred Doran, 1927 (Source: Cosgrove)

 

The second citation appears on Sunday, August 7, 1927. Billy Parker landed at Tucson at 9:30AM flying Travel Air NC3019. He carried Pete Welty and Fred Capshaw as passengers. They were westbound from Bartlesville, OK to San Francisco, CA. This flight was in conjunction with Phillips Petroleum support of Dole Race participants. Page 87 of the Forden reference shows and image of Parker's pilot log book entry for his flights through Tucson and west. The image caption describes what he was doing on behalf of the Dole contestants.

The third and fourth citations are flights to Tucson piloted by Clarence M. Young. At San Francisco before the Dole Race, he led his team of Bureau of Air Commerce inspectors who oversaw the safety and legal issues surrounding the event. He landed first at Tucson Tuesday, April 19, 1927. He was in a government Buhl, NS-4. He carried as passenger Walter Parkin, an inspector who also took part in the inspections at Oakland. Young wrote in the remarks column of the Register, "Enroute to New Station." He was headed for Los Angeles, but he probably stopped in San Diego that April, since Young was responsible also to inspect the "Spirit of St. Louis" and appove its registration and Lindbergh's pilot license. Lindbergh would fly the Atlantic the following month.

Young landed again Sunday, September 2, 1928, flying a government Stearman, NS-17. Although neither of his visits to Tucson were closely connected date-wise to the Dole, he was responsible for federal presence during preparations. Interestingly, Young held pilot's license #2.

The fifth and final citation documents a visit by Al Henley. Henley was copilot of the Travel Air Oklahoma (Travel Air 5000 NX911, not a Register airplane) in the Dole Race. Henley visited Tucson six times, none of which could be construed as related to travel to or from the Dole Race. Henley flew exclusively Ryan aircraft through Tucson. He also participated in the 1928 Ford Reliability Tour flying the Ryan NC5547.

All totaled, ten lives were lost to the Dole competition.  Three died during pre-race preparations.  Five lost their lives during the race, and two lost their lives after the race during a vain search for survivors.  The accidents and loss of life during this one event caused a major stir in the aviation community and among the public.  There was considerable finger-pointing at James Dole, Hawaiian pineapple entrepreneur and race sponsor, with accusations of self-serving greed; at the pilots for not being prepared; at the federal Bureau of Air Commerce for not enforcing aircraft safety measures thoroughly enough.  The "blame" was passed, with no one taking the ultimate responsibility.  Some things never change.

It soon became clear there was no blame to be placed.  This was, after all, a race with a good deal of aeronautical skill and technology applied to it.  And trans-Pacific flight was not without precedent. Dole was simply trying to boost Hawaii tourism. While commonly viewed by the lay public as a travesty of unpreparedness and foolhardiness by a few thrill seekers, the bottom line is that the participants were all trained and skilled adults, working with some of the best technologies of their time, preceded in their trans-Pacific attempts by two previous successful flights.  The singular difference was prize money.  Like Lindbergh and the Orteig Prize, the element of competition, and Dole’s monetary prize, made this crossing more notable than those of civilians Smith and Bronte or the military flyers Maitland and Hegenberger who preceded Goebel and Davis in 1927 by only a couple of months. 

Other Photos and Their Donors

This section exhibits photographs shared by site visitors of Dole aircraft and people. Most of the subjects of the photos have no connection to the Register, but the aircraft and people were active in the Dole Race.

Below, the Pabco Pacific Flyer, a Breese-Wilde, NX646. This photo is shared by site visitor Wayne, who says, "My father gave me the photo about 5 years ago and, unfortunately, I did not question him on the source (he passed away 2 years ago). He was 12 years old in 1927 and lived in Oakland. I suspect that he actually attended the event in Oakland and picked up the photo as a 'giveaway' by the Sterling Motor truck Co."

The PABCO Pacific Flyer, Ca. 1927 (Source: Wayne)
The PABCO Pacific Flyer, Ca. 1927 (Source: Wayne)

 

Close-Up of Salutation, PABCO Flyer, Ca. 1927 (Source: Wayne)
Close-Up of Salutation, PABCO Flyer, Ca. 1927 (Source: Wayne)

The photograph is signed with a nib or fountain pen at lower right, "Compliments of Sterling Motor Truck Co. With kindest regards to Maj. L.G. Irving." According to the sign on the side, the Sterling Company was located at Mission and 12th Streets in San Francisco. And this particular truck sported a six cylinder engine, 7-speed transmission, "Ricardo" cylinder heads and dual pneumatic brakes. Scroll down at the link to see a cross-section of the Ricardo head, which was designed to swirl the fuel/air mixture preceding combustion. Note that this photo was doctored at the front of the airplane. The ground and horizon have been removed, probably by blacking the negative. Perhaps there was a competitor's truck there. The Pabco company, sponsor of the airplane, manufactured floor coverings like linoleum. It is still in business selling roofing and flooring products, among other things.

Below are five photos shared by site visitor Jeff Staines. First is a photograph of the Woolaroc as it landed at Honolulu. Note the Army biplane landing and kicking up a dust cloud at left.

Touchdown in Hawaii of the Woolaroc, August, 1927 (Source: Staines)
Touchdown in Hawaii of the Woolaroc, August, 1927 (Source: Staines)

Next, on the ground Goebel smiles and lifts his arms in victory. I pushed this image in PhotoShop for better viewability.

Art Goebel in Hawaii With the Woolaroc, August, 1927 (Source: Staines)

Art Goebel in Hawaii With the Woolaroc, August, 1927 (Source: Staines)

Below, William Davis (L) and Art Goebel celebrate their Dole Race win in Hawaii festooned in leis. I pushed this image a bit in PhotoShop for better viewability.

Wm. Davis & Art Goebel After Victory, August, 1927 (Source: Staines)
Wm. Davis & Art Goebel After Victory, August, 1927 (Source: Staines)

Below, Goebel receives the check for $25,000 from James Dole. Goebel, dressed in knickers, has his hands clasped in the air, holding the check; Dole is second from right. WIlliam Davis is at far left.

The Dole Prize Was $25,000 (Source: Staines)
The Dole Prize Was $25,000 (Source: Staines)

Below, second place winners Paul Schluter (L) and Martin Jensen. A relieved Mrs. Jensen is at center.

Paul Schluter, Mrs. Jensen, Martin Jensen, August, 1927 in Hawaii (Source: Staines)
Paul Schluter, Mrs. Jensen, Martin Jensen, August, 1927 in Hawaii (Source: Staines)

 

---o0o---

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 05/12/11 REVISED:

 
Home
The Register
People
Places
Airplanes
Events
YOU CAN HELP

I'm looking for original, unpublished photographs of Dole Race airplanes and pilots to include on this page. If you have one or more you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.

---o0o---

SPONSORED LINKS

 

 
Contact Us | Credits | Copyright © 2008 Delta Mike Airfield, Inc.
This website is best enjoyed in a 1024 x 768 screen resolution.
Web design by The Web Professional, Inc