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Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race (available as eBook)
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The Clover Field Register gives us vignettes of a couple of aviation events that swirled around the United States during the Golden Age. Air races and tours, military training maneuvers and aviation firsts passed through Santa Monica, as well as work-a-day arrivals and departures by VIPs.
AIR RACES For example, both the 1929 and the 1931 National Air Races (NAR) began there. The year 1929 was the first time women were allowed to compete in the cross-country event from Santa Monica to Cleveland, OH. Their experiences in the 1929 event are recorded at the link.
Two years later, the month of August, 1931 was alive with a flurry of female pilots arriving for the cross-country event to Cleveland. Of the top five finishers of the women's event, only one, second place winner Mae Haizlip, did not sign the Santa Monica Register near the time of the Race. First place finisher Phoebe Omlie signed (arrived 8/17 from Memphis, TN), as did Martie Bowman (third place, arrived at Santa Monica 8/21 from Long Beach, CA).
Fourth place winner Edith Foltz (left)arrived from Portland, OR on 8/22, and fifth place finisher Louise Thaden arrived from New York City on 8/19. The total purse was $6,000. Their signatures can be found on Register page 20. A copy of the rules and regulations for participants in the 1931 NAR is at the link (PDF 1.5Mb).
Many male pilots are also signed in the Register for both NAR.
VIPs VIPs in our sense stands for Very Important People as well as Very Important Planes. Many people and their airplanes are represented by their signatures in the Clover Field Register. For example, Howard Hughes on page 3. As well, Warren Packard, son of Packard Motor Car founder, on page 1 was listed as owner of the Stinson SM-2 Junior NC7786 which landed January 8, 1929. Note his distinctive signature. Packard died in a plane crash in Detroit just seven months later, in August, 1929. He may have been the unidentified passenger on January 8th.
Jimmie Angel, namesake of Angel Falls in Venezuela, landed on September 18, 1929 (Register page 7). Likewise, if you are a fan of Fleishmann's bread yeast, or even his gin, the founder of the Fleishmann enterprise, Max C. Fleishmann owned the airplane identified in the Register (page 32) as the Lockheed Electra NC14945. The airplane landed August 16, 1935 (page 32) flown by well-known pilot Harry Ashe. The airplane no longer exists, but the registration number lives on carried on an Embraer owned by Wells Fargo Bank in Salt Lake City, UT. Pilot Ashe, Max Fleishmann, his Lockheed Electra and Register pilot Elmer McLeod have an interesting relationship that may be gleaned from pilot McLeod's Web page at this link to the Davis-Monthan Register site. You'll find all of them mentioned on McLeod's page, and in his pilot logbooks.
Another interesting signature in the Clover Field Register from March 24, 1934 is that of Hiram Bingham flying solo in the Great Lakes NC540K. Twenty-three years earlier, Bingham, an aviator, author, explorer, Yale professor, Connecticut Lieutenant Governor, and later U.S. Senator, "discovered" the 15th-century Incan city of Machu Picchu.
Bingham's work in Peru, and the artifacts he brought back to the United States, developed into a controversy that persists to this day. The Peruvian government was in dispute with Yale Univeristy, where the artifacts are archived, until 2007 when the University agreed to return most of the artifacts, keeping some for future research. This decision was met with a lawsuit filed by Peru in U.S. federal court demanding that Yale return the entire collection.
Pancho Barnes, a legend among a couple of generations of aviators, brought to Clover Field one of the few Travel Air Mystery Ships. Her Mystery 'R' was NR613K, which she landed on August 5, 1931 (page 31). She arrived at Clover after a short hop from Los Angeles Metropolitan Airport.
The list of VIPs in the Clover Field Register, people and airplanes alike, goes on and on. If you're a fan of aviation you'll recognize Jeppesen, Hawks, Mantz and many, many others. As this site builds, many of them will be represented with biographies on their own pages. At the risk of being accused of name dropping, I'll move on.
AIRPLANE MANUFACTURERS Early airplane brands were numerous, compared to the abbreviated list of manufacturers today. For example, Kenneth Rearwin landed Friday, November 1, 1935 flying an unidentified Rearwin Sportster. His itinerary was another that could be traced from Register to Register. He landed about three weeks earlier at Tucson. His Tucson stop, as well as Santa Monica, was part of a 7-week sales/demo trip through Oklahoma, the southwest and California. Ken Rearwin was 22 years old, with 100 flying hours, and was flying with his wife.
Another example of contiguous itineraries is Zantford Granville, whose company manufactured the Gee Bee line of aircraft (Gee Bee standing for Granville Brothers) in Massachusetts. Granville signed the Clover Field Register Tuesday, August 18, 1931. He was also a competitor in the 1931 NAR. His entire cross-country itinerary, including his eastbound stop at Tucson on the 24th, is charted at his Web page on www.dmairfield.org.
Eldon Cessna, younger brother of Clyde Cessna, and co-manufacturer of his namesake airplanes, landed on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 19, 1931 flying Cessna AW NC7107. He was also with Brusse and the female aviators competing in the 1931 NAR. Interestingly, his signature can be found as well in the Davis-Monthan Register on the same date at 10AM. As you work your way through this site, you will find several examples of Clover Register pilots' names appearing in the other Registers of the suit, which place them on contiguous itineraries across the country.
Finally, but not exhaustively, Lee V. Brusse, VP of Waco Aircraft Company, landed Friday, August 21, 1931 flying the Waco F NC11236. At the time, he was a competitor in the 1931 National Air Races along with the female pilots cited above. Of the manufacturers cited, only Cessna and Waco are making airplanes today, with Cessna being in business continuously since brother Clyde founded the company. Waco today manufactures modern replicas of its vintage aircraft, on a very limited basis.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 06/13/13 REVISED: