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OTHER RESOURCES

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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PLEASE NOTE: AS OF APRIL 2, 2007 A MOTION PICTURE CLIP OF THE 1928 TOUR AIRPLANES IN THE AIR AND ON THE GROUND AT TUCSON IS AVAILABLE ON DMAIRFIELD.ORG AT THE LINK.

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There are many sources of information, books and Web sites alike, that are complete in describing the National Air Tours. I highly recommend the Web site at the link, because it is rich in relevant material.

Specific to our pilots and the 1928 tour, you should look at Forden's book (with the yellow cover) that's available from that site as PDF downloads for each chapter (click Read the Book Online to download individual chapters). You may want to consider buying the book, too. Please give them support for putting together such a useful Web site!

Specifically, chapter 4 of Forden's book covers the 1928 tour, and includes wonderful photos of some of our airplanes and pilots who visited Tucson. Of the 25 entrants in the Tour that year, 14 of the airplanes and pilots are signed into the Register and tabulated below in the center section of this page.

The other two small books available to download from the site ("One Two" by John Livingston; "A Four Thousand Mile Trip By Air" by Ralph W. Cram) are also interesting reading.

You'll also learn that the Ford Tour was reenacted in September 2003. Interestingly, six of the aircraft that flew in those Golden Age tours, and that landed at Tucson during that period, were still registered with the FAA in 2002. Refer to aircraft registrations 3947 (Travel Air), 5860 (Buhl), 6079 (Swallow), NC533W (Monocoupe), NC46V (Gee Bee, now a replica), and NC10402 (Laird).

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THE FORD RELIABILITY TOUR OF 1928

1928 Tour

WHAT THE TOURS WERE

From 1925 to 1931 was held annually "The National Air Tour for the Edsel B. Ford Reliability Trophy." As the name implies, the Tours were organized by the Ford Motor Company to show the air-minded (and NOT air-minded) public that air travel was safe, and that contemporary aviation technologies -- airframes, engines, flight planning, navigation, punctuality-- were at a state of development and reliability for practical use by the general citizenry.

It was the Golden Age of Aviation: the common people still lacked the confidence to fly. The Tours covered thousands of miles around the continental United States, took several weeks to complete and attracted thousands of spectators. They generated public interest and helped soften the public's hesitation to fly by demonstrating aviation as something other than aerial stunt shows and military shows of force.

Tour itineraries varied each year. The Davis-Monthan Airfield played a role in the fourth, 1928, National Air Tour. The itinerary that year was almost a circumnavigation of the United States (the map, above is from Forden reference available at the National Air Tours link at left, page 66). Because Tucson was part of the Tour, this Web page presents the context of the Tour that brought it through Arizona.

The Tour blasted through Tucson July 10-11, 1928. It was the 11th stop on the Tour. Most of the aircraft landed and are logged in the Register during a few hours near noon on Tuesday the 10th. They remained overnight at Tucson and continued the next day westbound to Yuma, AZ and San Diego, CA. We are fortunate to have moving picture footage of Tour activities at Tucson July 10th (see the link in the left sidebar). The film gives a solid feeling of what it was like to fly and marshal aircraft at the individual stops along the way.

Another illustration of Tour dynamics occurred in 2003, when a Tour was organized and flown with vintage aircraft. The contemporary Tour is discussed at the National Air Tours link at left. A quick backgrounder on the 2003 Tour is at the link.

THE VISION FOR THIS WEB PAGE.

As far as I can tell, no where else on the Web is there a synthesis of the 1928 Tour that includes multiple candid images of people and airplanes participating in the Tour at each of the 35 scheduled stops (if anyone can refute this belief, please let me KNOW). This page aspires to do just that: to show specifically what it was like on the ground and in the air at Dearborn, MI during the mid-morning at the start of the Tour, followed by sets of images and anecdotes that illustrate the experience of being among aircraft and people at the rest of the 34 stops along the way.

*** TO THAT END, I MAKE THE FOLLOWING CHALLENGE TO SITE VISITORS. If you have or know of and would like to share personal collections of photographs or memorabilia from any ot the 1928 Tour stops, please let me KNOW. Like the collections posted below, I'll craft yours into this page with full credit to contributors. ***

I realize this could take several years to accomplish, but the journey begins with this step.

THE ITINERARY FOR THE 1928 TOUR

The table below, compiled from the Forden book in the REFERENCES, is the cumulative itinerary of 35 stops for the 1928 Tour. I have highlighted the stops for which photographs and anecdotes are exhibited below. Use the links to explore the itinerary. If you would like to contribute photographs or information to this page, please CONTACT me if you can fill in any of the other cities.

DATE

CITY & AIRPORT NAME

MILES

Saturday

Dearborn, Ford

Start

June 30

Indianapolis, Speedway

236

 

St. Louis, Lambert

235

July 2

Springfield, Municipal

184

 

Wichita, Municipal

203

July 3

Tulsa, Municipal

131

July 6

Fort Worth, Meacham

327

July 7

Waco, Rich

88

July 8

San Antonio, Winburn

170

July 9

Marfa, Army

340

 

El Paso, Fort Bliss

171

July 10

Tucson, Municipal

263

July 11

Yuma, Fly

213

 

San Diego, Mahoney

136

July 12

Los Angeles, Mines

113

July 14

Fresno, Municipal

242

 

San Francisco, Mills

150

July 16

Corning, Woodson

165

 

Medford, Newell Barber

169

 

Portland, Swan Island

219

July 18

Tacoma, Speedway

112

July 19 Vancouver, WA  
  Pasco, WA  

 

Spokane, Felts

418

July 20

Missoula, Municipal

236

July 21

Great Falls, Vance

211

July 22

Froid, Schnitzler

326

 

Minot, Municipal

146

July 23

Fargo, Hector

228

July 24

St. Paul, Municipal (Holman)

218

July 26

Wausau, Alexander

169

 

Milwaukee, Cudahy

155

July 27

Chicago Municipal (now Midway)

80

July 28

Battle Creek, Kellogg

150

 

Dearborn, Ford

100

 

TOTAL

6,304

WHO WERE THE WINNERS IN 1928?

Everyone who competed in any of the Tours through the years was a winner. Specific to the 1928 event, the table below, again compiled from the Forden book in the REFERENCES, lists the ultimate finishers of the Tour as of July 28th back at Dearborn. I have highlighted the 14 pilots and aircraft who landed at Tucson and signed the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register on the day the Tour landed. I have linked those with their biographies and technographies I have written for dmairfield.org. A couple of others we know were at Tucson, because they appear in the motion picture film linked from the left sidebar. A few others, like John Wood and Charlie Meyers, signed the Register at other times, but not as part of the Tour.

PILOT

REG. NO.

AIRPLANE TYPE

PASSENGERS

Wood, John P.

5633

Waco

Frank Clewers

Hawks, Frank M

3443

Ford

Clausen & Carlson

Page, Randolph G.

5889

Stinson

Christensen & Leisy

Meyers, Charles W.

6528

Waco

Tom Colby, Baldwin

Stinson, Edward A.

5900

Stinson

Soule, Stone, Porter, Day, Stinson  (“4 passengers”)

Lowers, George C.

6580

Stinson

None

Henley, Al

5547

Ryan

Johns & Fedell

Brock, William S.

6503

Bellanca

(Achler, E.F.), Mrs. Brock & Others

Breese, Vance

5553

Ryan

Guinther & Hurst

Meister, Louis B.

5860

Buhl

Dunn, Harry

Cantwell, Robert C.

4097

Lockheed

Cooper, Acre & Leonard

Pears, R.W.

5574

Fairchild

LaViolette & Nevill

Kelly, J. Nelson

3562

Travel Air

William Stockert

Haldeman, George W.

4050

Bellanca

Sterling, Haute & Lupole

Aavang, Melvin

6097

Swallow

C.W. Helm

Graham, A. W.

5861

Buhl

R. Nesbitt

Levy, D.P.

5084

Stearman

Short & Innes

Clevenger, Cloyd P.

6505

Alexander Eaglerock

McInaney (“4 passengers”)

Atkinson, L.H. “Jack”

5878

Monocoupe

Bennett, Phylis

Cleveland, E.W. “Pop”

1159

Ryan

Wallace, Sagel, (Nesbitt, R.)

Beard, M.G.

3132

Waco

None

Peck, George H.

4739

Travel Air

Smith

Robertson, Dan. R.

5049

Curtiss Robin

Elmer C. Daughtrey

Omlie, Phoebe F.

5877

Monocoupe

Mrs. Stinson

Howard, Ben O.

5891

Alexander Eaglerock

Free

Breene, R.G.

??

Douglas O-2

Collins, Ray (Tour Referee, not a competitor)

AT THE START: DEARBORN, MICHIGAN

Ford Airport

Forden captured the spirit of adventure for the participants in the Tour when he stated, "And so the 1928 air tour flyers need not think of themselves as heroes, setting out for California. It was just a fine chance to see the country, for many their first look at cowboys and Indians and desert cactus, orange groves, real live movie stars and other splendors they'd never heard of: Mt. Shasta, and Mt. Hood, the Blackfoot River and The Danes of the Mighty Columbia." And so they climbed into their cockpits, strapped in and took off!

Below, are wonderfully sharp photographs shared with us by site visitor Paul Kankula. Mr. Kankula's father, Nick, was a Ford Motor Company employee who was present at the start of the 1928 Tour at the "new" (established 1925) Ford Airport at Dearborn, MI. The history and demise of the Ford Airport is shown at the link.

Mr. Kankula's photos are spectacular in that they show the mid-morning hustle on June 30, 1928 as festivities were initiated with the first departure as described by Forden, "Saturday, June 30, was "Air Olympics Day" at Ford Airport: an air show by Army ships, a model airplane contest and the 22nd Annual James Gordon Bennett Balloon Race.... Phoebe Omlie was first to take off, as befitted the first lady pilot in any air tour, and at nine o'clock her Monocoupe went pop-pop-popping bravely away into the cloudy sky, toward Indianapolis...." If you're like me, as you study these images, you can hear the engines, smell the oil and taste the dust!

The engines, oil and dust were started with the wave of a flag. Below, official Tour starter Edsel Ford holds the white flag he used to wave the participants on their way in 1928. There is a number of motion picture sequences at the link, which show Edsel Ford with his flag at other Tours (1925, 26, etc.). But there is no motion footage that I could find specifically for 1928 that would put some motion around the photo below. Note the well-dressed Golden Age pilot with helmet, goggles, leather jacket, jodhpurs and boots.

Edsel Ford, Official Starter, 1928 Edsel Ford Reliability Tour, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Edsel Ford, Official Starter, 1928 Edsel Ford Reliability Tour, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

I'll exhibit Mr. Kankula's aircraft images roughly in the order of final finish as listed in the table above. All the Tour aircraft were photographed by his father. There are some gaps. First, is the big Ford Trimotor NC3443 flown by pilot Frank Hawks. Hawks is one of the Tour pilots who did not sign the Register at Tucson. However, we know he was there because we can see NC3443 on the ground at Tucson in the moving picture film linked from the left sidebar.

Mr. Kankula provides us with two views of NC3443. Please direct your browser to the links for Hawks and the airplane for further information and photographs. Below, we see the airplane with engines running and someone standing at the open passenger door.

Ford Trimotor, NC3443 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Ford Trimotor, NC3443 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

Below, perhaps taxiing for departure. The Ford NC3443 took second place overall in the Tour. This video link shows the end of the tour and highlights NC3443 and Frank Hawks.

Ford Trimotor, NC3443 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Ford Trimotor, NC3443 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

Below, the Stinson, NC5889 of third place pilot Randolph G. Page. With the tail up, this looks like the take-off run.

Stinson NC5889 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Stinson NC5889 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

Next, the 4th place entry, Waco NC6528 flown by Charles W. Meyers. Register pilot Tom Colby was Meyers' passenger and owner of this airplane.

Waco NC6528 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Waco NC6528 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

Below, the big Stinson, NC5900 flown by Eddie Stinson. Stinson placed 5th in the Tour.

Stinson NC5900 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Stinson NC5900 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

Next is the Stinson NC6580 flown by George C. Lowers. They placed 6th.

Stinson NC6580 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Stinson NC6580 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

Below, pilot Al Henly in the Ryan NC5547 placed 7th overall.

Ryan NC5547 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Ryan NC5547 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

Eighth place was taken by William S. Brock in the Bellanca NC6503. Below, two photos of 6503.

Bellanca NC6503 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Bellanca NC6503 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

The engine is running in this second view.

Bellanca NC6503 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Bellanca NC6503 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

Eleventh place belonged to Robert Cantwell in the Lockheed Vega NC4097. Below, two images of this aircraft on the ground at Dearborn. It wore Tour #23. The logo on the fuselage is that of the Richfield Oil Company.

Lockheed Vega NC4097 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Lockheed Vega NC4097 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

However, the Tour number is not attached to the airplane in the photo below, even though it looks like it is preparing to depart Dearborn. Compare the image of NC4097 farther below taken at the first stop, Indianapolis, IN. The Tour number is resting on the ground. seemingly awaiting attachement.

Lockheed Vega NC4097 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Lockheed Vega NC4097 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

R.W. Pears and the Fairchild NC5574 captured 12th place. Below, the airplane has its tail up on the take-off roll. This airplane is visible in the motion picture film of the landing at Tucson, AZ. Look about 50 seconds into the film and you will see it with its wings folded back.

Fairchild NC5574 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Fairchild NC5574 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

Lucky 13th place was captured by J. Nelson Kelly in the Travel Air NC3562. This airplane was equipped with a Caminez engine by Fairchild. It was a four-cylinder model, which was plagued with problems. Forden states, "The little cam engine developed a massive torque far in excess of its conservative 125 horsepower rating and drove a propeller ten feet long. And this oversize prop, turning at one-half engine speed, whipped around in great, hammering blows like a giant club, cracking and ripping itself to pieces while its vibration flung off into space any engine parts not securely fastened on. The violent torque twisted the airplane structure too.... And the engine ran hot...."

Travel Air NC3562 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Travel Air NC3562 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

There was not one, but two Tour aircraft running the Caminez engine. The Waco NC3132, below was the other. Through the persistence of the Fairchild staff, both planes and engines finished the Tour. But that was the end of the Caminez engine line of products.

The Swallow, NC6097, placed 15th with Melvin Aavang and passenger Clarence Helm aboard.

Swallow NC6097 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Swallow NC6097 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

Alger Graham and the Buhl Airster NC5661 were 16th.

Buhl NC5861 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Buhl NC5861 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

The Monarch Coffee Buhl and Phoebe Omlie are shown in a motion picture at the link. The footage was probably shot at the end of the Tour back in Dearborn.

Next, Cloyd Clevenger flying Alexander Eaglerock NC6505 placed 18th.

Alexander Eaglerock NC6505 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Alexander Eaglerock NC6505 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

L.H. "Jack" Atkinson and his Monocoupe NC5878 placed 19th overall. Note the sandbags used to chock the airplane at Dearborn.

Monocoupe NC5878 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Monocoupe NC5878 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

E.W. "Pop" Cleveland placed 20th flying his Ryan B-1 Brougham, NC1159. Two photographs follow.

Ryan NC1159 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Ryan NC1159 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

The second is during the takeoff run.

Ryan NC1159 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Ryan NC1159 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

M. Gould Beard and Waco NC3132 captured 21st place. Like Travel Air NC3562, above, this airplane is powered by the same Fairchild Caminez engine with all its problems. Notice the "X" prefix.

Waco NC3132 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Waco NC3132 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

This appears to be the departure roll.

Waco NC3132 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Waco NC3132 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

George Peck with his Travel Air NC4739 took 22nd place. Neither Peck nor his Travel Air are signed in the Register. Berry Brothers manufactured coatings for automobiles, boats and airplanes. See Register pilot Tom Colby for additonal information about Berry Brothers, including color charts for their aviation products.

Travel Air NC4739 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Travel Air NC4739 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

Phoebe Fairgrave Omlie and her Monocoupe NC5877 captured 24th place. She did well, considering she suffered an accident at Marfa, TX.

Monocoupe NC5877 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Monocoupe NC5877 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

Below is the takeoff run.

Monocoupe NC5877 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Monocoupe NC5877 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

Finally, two views a Ryan Brougham NC3648 that was not a part of the Tour so far as I can determine. Another photo is at the link. However, it is a Register airplane landing at Tucson Wednesday, July 25, 1928 at 6:10 PM. It was flown by Ace Bragunier. He carried a single passenger indentified as G.E. Flaherty (not among any of the names tabulated by Forden). Based in Los Angeles, CA they were westbound from Detroit, MI to Los Angeles.

Ryan Brougham NC3648 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Ryan Brougham NC3648 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

Given the juxtaposition of dates, June 30th at Dearborn and July 25th at Tucson, one could conjecture that the Ryan followed along with the Tour for a while, then took care of some other business (or ran into problems) and came through Tucson two weeks after the Tour passed through (the Tour was already into the eastbound home stretch in Minnesota by the 25th). In the absence of photos of it at other Tour stops (it is not visible in any of the Indianapolis photos following), or Bragunier's pilot log book, it remains conjecture.

Ryan Brougham NC3648 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)
Ryan Brougham NC3648 on the Ground at Dearborn, MI, June 30, 1928 (Source: Kankula)

After all the airplanes took off and left Dearborn for Indianapolis, Forden described the James Gordon Bennett Balloon Race as follows, "There were twelve balloons [count carefully and you can see all twelve in the photograph below] with all their paraphernalia spread over one end of the field. Three were American entries, three were German, two French, and one each, from Denmark, Argentina, Belgium and Switzerland. And as soon as the air tour planes were out of the way they'd all be off and riding the wind to somewhere else."

Below are four images of balloons and baskets rising late in the morning on Monday, June 30th. In this first photo, magnification of the original image shows the Argentinian entry at far left with the Danish entry next to it. Other details include numerous skimmer straw hats, adults and children sitting in the grass, and period automobiles. A tent appears at right center. The woman at right illustrates clothing of 1928: straight, patterned shift dress with clutch hat and purse. Does anyone RECOGNIZE the woman or the boy?

Fleet of Balloons, 1928 National Air Tour, Dearborn, MI, June 30th (Source: Kankula)
Fleet of Balloons, 1928 National Air Tour, Dearborn, MI, June 30th (Source: Kankula)

Below, the entry by the People's Outfitting Company. The company was a Detroit department store, now closed.

Fleet of Balloons, 1928 National Air Tour, Dearborn, MI, June 30th (Source: Kankula)
Fleet of Balloons, 1928 National Air Tour, Dearborn, MI, June 30th (Source: Kankula)

Below, the U.S. Army is represented and aloft. Contributor Kankula says about the balloons, "I think that they are probably filled with Hydrogen, but it could be Helium.  I'm told that gas cost for filling one of these balloons, would probably have cost around $8,000 - that's a lot of money for a short trip."

Fleet of Balloons, 1928 National Air Tour, Dearborn, MI, June 30th (Source: Kankula)
Fleet of Balloons, 1928 National Air Tour, Dearborn, MI, June 30th (Source: Kankula)

The photograph below captures the rising anticipation as the 22nd Annual James Gordon Bennett Balloon Race got underway...

Fleet of Balloons, 1928 National Air Tour, Dearborn, MI, June 30th (Source: Kankula)
Fleet of Balloons, 1928 National Air Tour, Dearborn, MI, June 30th (Source: Kankula)

Think about this. The photographs you will see below that were taken at Indianapolis were snapped just a few hours after the ones you saw above. Indeed, we have a moment in Golden Age time captured on the Web! Acquisition and Posting of Dearborn Photographs, December, 2010.

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BACK TO TOP

 

AT THE FIRST STOP: INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA

Indianapolis Speedway

The next landing by all the aircraft was at Indianapolis, IN. The father of site visitor J.W. Tretter photographed the Tour as it landed at Indianapolis on June 30, 1928. This was the first stop on the Tour after departing Dearborn, MI (Tucson was the 11th stop). "Speedway" meant just that: the airplanes landed on the infield of the Indanapolis Speedway rather than at one of the local airports. Ms. Tretter says about Speedway, it was located, "... about 4900 W. 16th Street, ...  Eddie Rickenbacker and a group had bought the Speedway in 1927....  The infield was used previously in 1909 for an aviation meet and balloon races." Given that the Speedway property was over 300 acres back then, the infield could easily handle all the Tour aircraft.

A few newspapers covered the preparations for, and arrival of, the Tour at Indianapolis. Below, courtesy of Ms. Tretter, from the Indianapolis Star, a morning paper. Note that the article states that a Mohawk monoplane flown by Dr. Joseph A. Mowicki was entered in the Tour. Neither plane nor pilot started the Tour (see the second article, below). There were a couple of non-starts and a couple of aircraft added at the last minute.

Indianapolis Star, June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)
Indianapolis Star, June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)

Ms. Tretter provides the following text that represents the parts of the image in the right-most column that can' t be read.

Exhibitions Planned

"Incidental to the arrival and departure of the tour planes, several local National Guard officers will give an exhibition of formation flying in new Curtiss O-11 planes recently obtained.  Likewise, officials at Wilbur Wright field in Dayton have accepted an invitation to participate in the reception and will send two or more of the army’s newest fast pursuit planes to give an aerial exhibition.

"The Hoosier Airport,  headed by Harold C. Brooks and Bob Shanks, has provided three new Travel Air biplanes for newspaper men to escort the tour into Indianapolis.  Several out-of-town aviators will also probably be present to take part in the local reception.

"Technical details of the local stop will be handled by Odis A. Porter, who is chief timer.  Elaborate timing instruments have been installed by Mr. Porter in a tent in the infield along with direct Western Union telegraph wires from Detroit so that the exact time of the departure of each plane will be  received and the speed from Detroit computed without delay.  Ray Collins, traveling referee of the tour, will arrive by plane from Detroit two hours in advance of the tour to assist in completing technical arrangements.

"The reception committee which will greet the aviators is headed  by Mr. Brooks and is composed of Norman A. Perry, Paul Ritchie, Elmer Stout, Irving W. Lemaux, R.V. Law, Wallace O. Lee, James A. Stuart, Ray D. Everson, Stanley A. Tullsen, W. A. Askins, Harper Ransburg, Homer McKee, H. M. Glossbrenner, E. B. Gorrell, Roy Adams, Frederick E. Schortsmeier, Joseph H. McDuffee, E. J. Rork, Lieut. Walter R. Peck, Maj. R. F. Taylor, Capt. Oliver Stout, Capt. H. Weir Cook, Lieut. Matt Carpenter, Robert Shanks and Harold C. Brooks.

"The executive committee which made arrangements for today’s events is composed of Mr. Williams, chairman; Nicholas Moore, vice-chairman; Mr. Myers, Mr. McKee, Mr. McDuffee and Ray J. Barbin."

Below, from the Star of July 1st, the report of the departure from the Speedway and the arrival at St. Louis. One thing that sometimes goes missing when you study events like this from the era of black & white films, is that there was lots of color. The writer of this article compared the Tour aircraft to, "... great tropical birds, in their coats of silver and gold, purple and orange, blue and green and scarlet...." This, combined with the shower of roses, paints a very colorful picture of the 1928 Tour at Indianapolis. Notice the misspelling of Louis Meister's name in the headline.

Indianapolis Star, July 1, 1928 (Source: Tretter)
Indianapolis Star, July 1, 1928 (Source: Tretter)

Below, the continuation of the article says that due to the fine weather and no admission charge to enter the Speedway infield, the crowd numbered about 10,000 to view the planes on the Tour.

Indianapolis Star, July 1, 1928, Continued(Source: Tretter)
Indianapolis Star, July 1, 1928 (Source: Tretter)

 


Tipton Tribune, May 28, 1928
(Source: Tretter)
Tipton Tribune, May 28, 1928 (Source: Tretter)

 

Ms. Tretter says about her father's photos, "... I rescued the box of dad's photos from the attic of the bungalow I grew up in, when my mother was putting it up for sale.  I don't think I really spent much time going through all that was in it until several years ago (life was just too busy).  Mom didn't have any interest in them, and because they had belonged to dad who died when I was 19, I wanted them.  It wasn't until I started working on my dad's family genealogy that I began to find clues here and there about his life prior to marrying my mother ...."

 

 

 

The news article, left, from a local newspaper of May 28, 1928, made it clear that the Tour was a big deal for Indianapolis. Hospitality at Indianapolis was sponsored by the Marmon Motor Car Company. An abbreviated itinerary is at the end of the article. Curiously, Tucson is not listed among the cities.

Logansport Pharos-Tribune, June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)
Logansport Pharos-Tribune, June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)

News article, above, from June 30, 1928, announces the arrival of the Tour to Indianapolis. First to arrive at Indianapolis was Louis Meister in NC5860; second was William Brock in NC6503.

A good Web resource for studying the history and demise of Indianapolis area-airports is found at the site named Abandoned and Little-Known Airfields. Ms. Tretter supplies photos of other Indianapolis-area airfields, which are exhibited at Indianapolis, IN.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The news article, below, further built anticipation for the Tour in Indianapolis. Note that this time Tucson is mentioned in the itinerary.

Vidette-Messenger, June 26, 1928 (Source: Tretter)
Vidette-Messenger, June 26, 1928 (Source: Tretter)

Below, this pleasant trove of photos is very special in that they are candid snapshots and not professional-grade portraits. From the viewpoint angles of most of these shots, we can guess that the camera was held at waist level with the viewfinder on the top with the photographer looking down to frame the scene for exposure.

Note well, none of these photographs is of Tucson or environs. However, regardless of the location, the type of activity was the same from station to station. And some, but not all, are of the same aircraft and pilots who landed at Tucson. To this last point, we are fortunate here to have several aircraft that are not signed in the Register, although it is fairly certain they did land at Tucson during the Tour. Ms. Tretter shares the following photos from her father's album.

Below, Buhl Sport Air Sedan NC5860 flown by Louis Meister. This airplane arrived first at Indianapolis and ultimately placed 10th in the Tour. Interestingly, this airplane is still registered with the FAA. According to the FAA Web site, its registration status is in question, however. Another photograph of the Buhl appears below at the Great Falls, MT stop.

NC5860, Buhl Air Sedan Model CA-C3, June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)
NC5860, Buhl Air Sedan Model CA-C3, June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)

The next view is of the flight line at the Speedway infield. The airplanes remained on the ground for only a couple of hours. It is impossible to know if this is arrival or departure traffic.

1928 Ford Reliability Tour, Indianapolis, IN, June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)
1928 Ford Reliability Tour, Indianapolis, IN, June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)

Two Monocoupe Model 70s competed in the Tour. Below are NC5877 (Tour #29) and NC5878 (Tour #26). Number 26 is visible at left, above, too. According to the Register, Phoebe Omlie flew 5877 to Tucson and L.K. Atkinson piloted NC5878. According to Forden's book (left sidebar) Omlie was in 5878 and Atkinson in 5877. Please direct your browser to the airplane pages, and to the section for Marfa, TX below for further discussion of the conjecture.

Monocoupe NC5878 (Foreground) and NC5877 Warming Up (Source: Tretter)
Monocoupe  NC5878 (Foreground) and NC5877 Warming Up (Source: Tretter)

 

Monocoupe NC5877 (Foreground) and NC5878 Warming Up (Source: Tretter)
Monocoupe  NC5877 (Foreground) and NC5878 Warming Up (Source: Tretter)

Below, Phoebe Omlie in front of NC5878. Her dress, we learned from the news article above, is green jersey.

Phoebe Omlie in front of NC5878, June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)
Phoebe Omlie in front of NC5878, June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)

Below, Stearman C2B NC5084 flown by Deed Levy. This airplane placed 17th overall. While NC5084 was not signed in at Tucson during the Tour, it did sign in during May, 1930. The person below is unidentiffied, but, from the flag, he could be a volunteer starter or ground handler for the pilots and aircraft, perhaps stationed with the Indiana National Guard.

Stearman NC5084, June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)
Stearman NC5084, June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)

Below, is Bellanca NC6503 on the ground at Speedway. Please follow the airplane's link to learn about its pilot when it landed at Tucson. Behind the Bellanca is NC5084, the Stearman C2-B flown by D.P. Levy Please direct your browser to the link for the Stearman to learn that it was flown to Tucson by another pilot a couple of years later. It was destroyed in a crash circa 1937. As well, in the original image the Ford trimotor NC3443 is visible in the distance and identifiable by its race #2 on the fuselage. At the link, you can see a fine profile of NC3443 supplied by Ms. Tretter.

Bellanca CH NC6503 on the Ground at Indianapolis, IN, Ca. June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)
Bellanca CH NC6503 on the Ground at Indianapolis, IN, Ca. June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)

Below, the Richfield Oil Lockheed Vega, NC4097, flown by Register pilots Lee Schoenhair and Robert Cantwell. It wore race number 23, which can be seen lying on the ground next to the fuselage. The logo on the side is that of Richfield Oil.

Lockheed Vega NC4097 at Indianapolis, IN, June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)
Lockheed Vega NC4097 at Indianapolis, IN, June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)

Below, NX5049, a Curtiss Robin, Tour #5, flown by Dan R. Robertson. Neither pilot Robertson nor NX5049 appear in the Register. It was powered by a Curtiss OX-5 of 90 HP. It placed 23rd overall in the Tour.

OX-5 Curtiss Robin, Indianapolis, IN, June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)
OX-5 Curtiss Robin, Indianapolis, IN, June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)

Below, the ultimate 3rd place winner, Stinson Jr. NC5889 (Tour #21) flown by Randolph Page. Tour #24, the Fairchild FC-2 NC5574 flown by R.W. Pears is behind #21, taxiing into the distance. The airplane at center is not identifiable (looks like it might be Meister's Buhl, see above). Like the Robin above, neither pilots Page or Pears nor NC5889 or 5574 appear in the Register.

Stinson NC5889 (Tour #21) And Others at Indianapolis, June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)
Stinson NC5889 (Tour #21) And Others at Indianapolis, June 30, 1928 (Source: Tretter)

The Tour aircraft departed Indianapolis for St. Louis, MO, the second leg of their journey on June 30th. Acquisition and Posting of Indianapolis Photographs, November, 2010.

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The following stops are waiting to be documented. IF YOU CAN HELP, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR WEBMASTER.

AT THE SECOND STOP: ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI

Lambert Field

AT THE THIRD STOP: SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI

Springfield Municipal Airport

AT THE FOURTH STOP: WICHITA, KANSAS

Wichita Municipal Airport

AT THE FIFTH STOP: TULSA, OKLAHOMA

Tulsa Municipal Airport

AT THE SIXTH STOP: FORT WORTH, TEXAS

Meacham Field

AT THE SEVENTH STOP: WACO, TEXAS

Rich Field

AT THE EIGHTH STOP: SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

Winburn Field

AT THE NINTH STOP: MARFA, TEXAS

Army Airfield

At Marfa, Tour participants were westbound from San Antonio, TX to El Paso, TX. Below are five views of a few of the airplanes captured by an Army photographer (who posed his friends). Thanks to Tim Kalina for pointing out the link to these photos.

First, the Bellanca NC6503 flown by William Brock. They placed 8th.

Bellanca CH NC6503, July 9, 1928 (Source: Web)
Bellanca CH NC6503, July 9, 1928 (Source: Web)

Next, the Stinson NC5900 flown by Eddie Stinson. They ultimately placed 5th in the Tour.

Stinson NC5900, July 9, 1928 (Source: Web)
Stinson NC5900, July 9, 1928 (Source: Web)

Below, the Ford NC3443 at Marfa being fueled from 5-gallon cans. At a nominal fuel capacity of 231 gallons, it would take 46 of those cans to completely fuel the airplane from empty. The Ford was flown by Frank Hawks who took 2nd place.

Ford NC3443, July 9, 1928 (Source: Web)

Below, the Monocoupe NC5878, flown by Phoebe Omlie. Her airplane had an engine of 47HP. Her Monocouple (race #26) was painted black and orange and named “Miss Memphis.” Omlie traveled alone, accompaniued by neither navigator nor mechanic. She told reporters: “If I take a mechanic, they’ll say that he flew the ship over the bad spots!” That it was flown solo by Phoebe may account for the predominance of women lookers and bystanders. She was the first woman to compete in any Air Tour.

Monocoupe NC5878, July 9, 1928 (Source: Web)
Monocoupe NC5878, July 9, 1928 (Source: Web)

Phoebe ground-looped and flipped her Monocoupe at Marfa, and went down again at Laguna Beach, CA. She finished the race in 24th place.

Below, the Waco NX3132 flown by M.G. "Dan" Beard (21st place). His airplane was powered by the new Fairchild Caminez engine. If you go to the National Air Tour link cited in the left sidebar and download the Forden book (PDF) from that Web site, you'll find a description of the "Cam Waco" in chapter 4 (with more information about the 1928 Tour and another photo of pilot Beard standing next to his airplane).

Waco NX3132, July 9, 1928 (Source: Web)
Waco NX3132, July 9, 1928 (Source: Web)

Acquisition and Posting of Marfa Photographs, January, 2013.

AT THE TENTH STOP: EL PASO, TEXAS

Fort Bliss

 

AT STOP ELEVEN: TUCSON, ARIZONA

Davis-Monthan Airfield

WORKING ON THIS SECTION

Monarch Coffee Buhl and others shown in film

At Tucson, Tour participants were westbound on their way from El Paso, TX to Yuma, AZ before entering California and turning north. After Tucson they would make a large arc up the west coast to Washington state, then eastward near the Canadian border, across the midwest back to Dearborn, MI and the finish line. Please follow this link to see images of some of the competing aircraft on the ground at San Diego, CA a day after their stop in Tucson.

If you look at the Register page, none of the pilots who landed at Tucson entered times of day in the register on the 10th except Breene at 10:20 AM and Robert Cantwell at 11:30:50 AM (to be exact!). Other times listed on the page pretty much bracket the landings of competitors. It was a busy day for air traffic at the Airfield, and the sense of the hustle and bustle can be seen in the movie footage linked above. On the next Register page, the final tour participant, L.H. "Jack" Atkinson (near the top of the page) landed at Tucson on 7/14 at 9:30 PM. Compare the tabulation of pilots in the 1928 tour available from the Forden link at left (pp. 84-85 of chapter 4) with the pilot signatures and aircraft cited on the Register pages linked above.

What is significant is about our day at Tucson is that, of 25 pilot entrants on the tour of 1928, over half (14) signed the Davis-Monthan Airfield register. Among them Robert Cantwell, Phoebe Omlie, Eddie Stinson, William S. Brock, Al Henley, M.G. Beard and E.W. "Pop" Cleveland. Information about these Ford Tour airplanes is available here: NC4097, NC5553, NC5877, NC5878, NC5900.

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AT STOP TWELVE: YUMA, ARIZONA

Fly Field

AT STOP THIRTEEN: SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

Mahoney Field

Buhl Airster NC5861 at San Diego at Cosgrove Collection. Also

Baby Ruth and others

AT STOP FOURTEEN: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA

Mines Field

AT STOP FIFTEEN: FRESNO, CALIFORNIA

Fresno Municipal

AT STOP SIXTEEN: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

Mills Field

AT STOP SEVENTEEN: CORNING, CALIFORNIA

Woodson Field

AT STOP EIGHTEEN: MEDFORD, OREGON

Newell Barber

AT STOP NINETEEN: PORTLAND, OREGON

Swan Island

AT STOP TWENTY: TACOMA, WASHINGTON

Speedway

AT STOP TWENTY-ONE: VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON

 

AT STOP TWENTY-TWO: PASCO, WASHINGTON

 

AT STOP TWENTY-THREE: SPOKANE, WASHINGTON

Felts Field

AT STOP TWENTY-FOUR: MISSOULA, MONTANA

Missoula Municipal

AT STOP TWENTY-FIVE: GREAT FALLS, MONTANA

Vance Field

The Tour was in Great Falls on July 21-22. Below is an image of the cover of a commemorative booklet from Great Falls.

Below are photographs shared with us by site visitor Tonya Crippen from her grandfather's photograph album. The first is a page from her grandfather's album that exhibits the five images that follow. Her grandfather's name was Edwin L. Crook.

1928 Tour Page From E.L. Crook's Photo Album, Ca. July, 1928 (Source: Crippen)
1928 Tour Page From E.L. Crook's Photo Album, Ca. July, 1928 (Source: Crippen)

These photos were mounted with adhesive corner slots on the black pulp paper typical of so many photo albums of the day. Below, the photo of Vance Airport. None of the aircraft or people are recognizable in this view.

Vance Airport, Great Falls, MT, July 21, 1928 (Source: Crippen)
Vance Airport, Great Falls, MT, July 21, 1928 (Source: Crippen)

Next, the big Ford Trimotor (featured in the film cited in the left sidebar on this page). The airplane is Texaco's Ford Trimotor NC3443, Tour #2. It was flown by Register pilot Frank Hawks.

Ford Trimotor, Great Falls, MT, July 21, 1928 (Source: Crippen)
Ford Trimotor, Great Falls, MT, July 21, 1928 (Source: Crippen)

Two Monocoupes participated. Race number 26 was NC5878 flown by Phoebe Fairgrave Omlie. Number 29 was NC5877 flown by Jack Atkinson.

Monocoupes, Great Falls, MT, July 21, 1928 (Source: Crippen)
Monocoupes, Great Falls, MT, July 21, 1928 (Source: Crippen)

Below, two of the aircraft are identifiable in the next photograph. The Buhl Sport Air Sedan, NC5860, flown by Louis Meister, is in the front row center. It has distinctive sesqui-plane lower wings. The Ford Trimotor is visible behind it.

Flight Line, Great Falls, MT, July 21, 1928 (Source: Crippen)
Flight Line, Great Falls, MT, July 21, 1928 (Source: Crippen)

None of the aircraft are identifiable on this second flight line photograph, except, perhaps, for the tiny Monocoupe at center.

Flight Line, Great Falls, MT, July 21, 1928 (Source: Crippen)
Flight Line, Great Falls, MT, July 21, 1928 (Source: Crippen)

Acquisition and Posting of Great Falls Photographs, March, 2012.

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AT STOP TWENTY-SIX: FROID, MONTANA

Schnitzler Field

AT STOP TWENTY-SEVEN: MINOT, NORTH DAKOTA

Minot Municipal

AT STOP TWENTY-EIGHT: FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA

Hector Field

AT STOP TWENTY-NINE: ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA

Holman Field

AT STOP THIRTY: WAUSAU, WISCONSIN

Alexander Field

AT STOP THIRTY-ONE: MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN

Cudahy Field

AT STOP THIRTY-TWO: CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

Midway

AT STOP THIRTY-THREE: BATTLE CREEK, MICHIGAN

Kellogg Field

AT STOP THIRTY-FOUR: DEARBORN, MICHIGAN

Ford Airport

 

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Dossier 4.2

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 5/7/05 REVISED: 7/1/05, 02/14/06, 05/02/06, 02/18/07, 04/02/07 (movie link), 05/15/07, 10/30/08, 12/01/10, 12/05/10, 03/20/12

 
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CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS PAGE

We are all grateful to the people who shared photographs and information for this page. They are, in order of their contact with me. The Tour stop they exhibit for us is in bold:

J.W. Tretter (November, 2010). Her father's photos for Indianapolis, IN

Paul Kankula (December, 2010) his father's photos for Dearborn, MI

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MORE THAN 1928...

Between 1925 and 1931, there were seven National Air Tour competitions for the Edsel B. Ford Reliability Trophy. The itinerary of the 1928 National Air Tour, held June 30-July 28, passed through Tucson; the only one of the seven Tours to do so.

However, pilots who toured other years landed at various times at the Davis-Monthan Airfield.

Of note would be Walter Beech, Earl Rowland, John Livingston, H.J. Laass, Frank Hawks, George Haldeman, Wiley Post, Les Bowman, Jimmy Doolittle and Zantford Granville.

OTHER BOOKS FOR YOU

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 a 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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"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.

"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.

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