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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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

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There is no biographical file for pilot Weddington in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC.

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HARRY WEDDINGTON

San Antonio Light, May 26, 1920
San Antonio Light, May 26, 1920

Harry Weddington was born July 18, 1893, a decade before the first successful aircraft ever flew. He was building and flying his own airplanes as early as 1913-14. He enlisted in the U.S. Army as a private on July 15, 1917. Because of his flying experience he was immediately commissioned a 1st lieutenant and stationed at Kelly Field, San Antonio, TX as a flight instructor.

Weddington signed the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register three times during 1927-28. Based at San Antonio, TX, he arrived first on Monday, 4/4/1927 in 26-402, a Douglas O-2C. He carried one passenger, Lt. Arthur Thomas. They were westbound from Lordsburg, NM to an unidentified destination. While on the ground at Tucson, the U.S. Border Patrol inspected their airplane. The inspector noted in the remarks column of the Register, "Inspected Robert R. Budlong Patrol Inspector".

Given pilot Weddington's early work in setting altitude records for the Army, it is surprising that he does not have a biographical file at the Smithsonian.

At right, One of his earliest tasks for the Army was to see how high a standard military-issue airplane could carry three passengers. The answer on May 26, 1920 was 20,081 feet. This feat is recorded in the Aircraft Yearbook for 1921, page 243.

San Antonio Express, August 27, 1940
San Antonio Express, August 27, 1940

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interestingly, some years later, one of the passengers on that flight, TechSgt Norman Ellis, was featured in a separate article in the San Antonio Express of Tuesday, August 27, 1940. That article is at left.

It is hard to know why there is a discrepancy in the given altitudes between these two articles. It could be typographical error, the passage of 20 years, or otherwise.

Weddington's next work for the Army involved parachute jumps at altitude. Below, from the San Antonio Express, March 24, 1921, we learn that he carried a parachutist to 24,400 feet for a record leap.

San Antonio Express, Thursday, March 24, 1921
San Antonio Express, Thursday, March 24, 1921

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Racine, WI Journal-News documented the same leap in its issue of Thursday March 24, 1921, below.

Journal-News, Racine, WI, March 24, 1921
San Antonio Express, Thursday, March 24, 1921

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From 1927-1934 he commanded reserve officers' flight training at Dallas, TX. Weddington's second visit to Tucson was on Sunday, November 20, 1927. He was westbound from El Paso, TX. His home base was given as Dallas, and he carried as passenger Major Jon Hensley. They were flying in a Douglas O-2 identified simply as "646".

They remained in Tucson for three days, departing eastbound at 6:00AM on the 23rd for their return to El Paso. No purpose was given for their visit to Tucson, although it could have been a cross-country training flight for Major Hensley coupled with Army business in Tucson.

His third landing at Tucson was recorded just two months later on Monday, January 23, 1928. He carried as passenger Lt. B. Turner. Still based in Dallas, they arrived in a Consolidated PT-1 25-292 (see the left sidebar for a book about the military aircraft that visited the Davis-Monthan Airfield).

Weddington and Turner were eastbound from San Diego, CA. They remained in Tucson until the 26th, then continued their trip eastward to Lordsburg, NM. No purpose was given for their visit to Tucson, although their stay may have been caused by bad weather conditions at that time of year.

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Flash forward now to WWII. Weddington served as commander of the Abilene, TX army airfield and the trainng base at Sweetwater, TX (the WASP trained at Sweetwater).

Pilots at Abiline trained in P-47 Thunderbolts, learning low-level ground attack, skip bombing and radio coordination.

Weddington appears in a news article in the Abilene Reporter-News of May 8, 1945, below. He had risen in rank to Colonel. The date of this article is remarkable in that the instrument of surrender of the German Armed Forces to those of the Allies was signed only the previous evening at Rheims, France.

 

Abilene Reporter-News, May 8, 1945
Abilene Reporter-News, May 8, 1945

Apropos this article, the following quote from Monday (pp. 61-62) in the REFERENCES captures the attitude at Abilene and Sweetwater at the end of the European war.

Yet, neither bad news nor good news kept the P-47 pilots from training at Avenger Field [Sweetwater]. The response to news of V-E Day...serves as an example of the determination of Colonel Harry Weddington to maintain his training schedule. Weddington served as official commander for both Avenger Field, designated as Squadron "L", and Abilene Army airfield, designated as Squadron "A".

"As the world awaited the official announcement of Germany's surrender, Weddington took measures designed to keep his pilots and instructors working. An article in the Sweetwater Reporter from that time explained Weddington's measures as follows:

"As soon as capitulation of Germany is officially announced from Washington, all officers and enlisted men who do not live in town with their wives will be restricted to the field.

"Married men living in town will be permitted to leave, but may not visit any public places or participate in any celebrations or V-E parties. This is in line with the army policy of sticking to the job in spite of triumph or setbacks in order that its next task, that of shifting its military weight to the Pacific and the defeat of Japan, may be accomplished with all possible speed."

Just a few months later, the article below appeared announcing Weddington's retirement. It is not clear what the illness might have been that forced his retirement.

Abilene Reporter-News, August 8, 1945
Abilene Reporter-News, August 8, 1945

 

Abilene Reporter-News, July 13, 1963
Abilene Reporter-News, July 13, 1963

At right, Harry Weddington's obituary, July 13, 1963.

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UPLOADED: 01/29/09 REVISED:

 
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I'm looking for photographs of pilot Weddington and his airplanes to include on this page. If you have one or more you'd like to share, please use this FORM to contact me.
Thanks to Mike Gerow for sharing the news articles that provide the majority of information for this page.
 
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