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 Angeles –
Lordsburg – El 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)
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
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
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, 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)
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)
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)
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.
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