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YOUR PURCHASE OF THESE BOOKS SUPPORTS THE WEB SITES THAT BRING TO YOU THE HISTORY BEHIND OLD AIRFIELD REGISTERS

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. 375 pages with black & white photographs and extensive tables

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The Congress of Ghosts (available as eBook) 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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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.

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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, while supplies last.

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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.  Available as a free download at the link.

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Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race (available as eBook) 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, while supplies last.

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Clover Field: The first Century of Aviation in the Golden State (available in paperback) With the 100th anniversary in 2017 of the use of Clover Field as a place to land aircraft in Santa Monica, this book celebrates that use by exploring some of the people and aircraft that made the airport great. 281 pages, black & white photographs.

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Thanks to Guest Editor Bob Woodling for help researching this page.

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I'm looking for information and photographs of this airplane to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.

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VULTEE MODEL V-1A NC14250

This airplane was a Vultee Model V-1A, S/N 14, manufactured during 1935. NC14250 was owned by, and served as executive transport for, William Randolph Hearst's San Francisco Examiner newspaper. It appeared twice in the Santa Monica Register.

NC14250 landed first on Wednesday, March 27, 1935 at 1:45PM as a relatively new airplane. It arrived at Clover Field from the Grand Central Air Terminal (GCAT). It was flown solo by Register pilot T.C. Van Stone. Earlier Van Stone was a Navy pilot who flew with William Hyde McMullen. Photos of Van Stone are about a third of the way down the page at the link. San Simeon was recorded as its destination. The owner was recorded as the San Francisco Examiner. Van Stone flew with pilot certificate 7115.

The photograph below shows a profile of NC14250, date unknown, on the ground at GCAT. Some of the photographs below are courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr stream (SDAM). While the photograph was identified on the stream as NC14250, the registration number is not visible and the paint scheme does not match the known photograph of 14250 farther below. Regardless, the model is V-1A.

Vultee NC14250, Glendale, CA, Date Unknown (Source: SDAM)

The Model V-1A carried eight passengers and their baggage. It received its Type Certificate in July, 1934, less than a year before its first landing at Santa Monica. Besides American Airways and Bowen Airlines of Texas, the V-1A attracted several corporate purchasers. Besides the San Francisco Examiner, Superior OIl, United Gas, Fuller Paints and others took delivery. The photograph below shows a rear view of NC14250, date unknown, on the ground at GCAT.

Vultee NC14250, Glendale, CA, Date Unknown (Source: SDAM)
Vultee NC14250, Glendale, CA, Date Unknown (Source: SDAM)

The second appearance in the Register was on June 2, 1935 at 2:20PM. The pilot this time was Allen G. Russell. He carried one unidentified passenger. They arrived at Santa Monica from San Simeon and departed back to San Simeon at 3:30PM the same day.

The owner of the airplane was identified as William Randolph Hearst, the publisher of the Examiner. Hearst built a large, private castle just east of the unincorporated coastal town of San Simeon, CA. Hearst's castle was perched on a mountain top overlooking the Pacific Ocean. He had a private air strip just southeast of his castle. His castle from the air was photographed, below, from a twin-engined aircraft of about 1930s vintage.

William Randolph Hearst's Castle From the Air, Ca. Mid-1930s (Source: SDAM)
William Randolph Hearst's Castle From the Air, Ca. Mid-1930s (Source: SDAM)

The official name for the property on which the castle rests is "La Cuesta Encantada" ("The Enchanted Hill"), but Hearst usually called it "the ranch". 

Below is a port profile of Hearst's NC14250. It wears Examiner livery. The photograph is from this REFERENCE, volume 6, page 164. It appears to be just landing or just taking off.

Vultee NC14250, Location Probably San Simeon, Date Unknown (Source: Web)
Vultee NC14250, Location Probably San Simeon, Date Unknown (Source: Web)

 

The V-1A was known for a particularly high cruising speed, near 190MPH, that endeared it to the air lines, businesses and to record setters. The high speed was due to fastidious effort to reduce parasitic drag, as well as a hefty Wright Cyclone SR-1820-F2 engine rated at 735HP. Jimmy Doolittle set a new coast-to-coast record with one on January 15, 1935. He and two passengers flew from Burbank, CA to New York City in 11 hours and 59 minutes. Their flight broke all records for passenger transport aircraft.

Crash of NC14250, February 25, 1938, Chicago Tribune (Source: Woodling)
Crash of NC14250, February 25, 1938, Chicago Tribune(Source: Woodling)

 

The executive versions of the V-1A differed from the commercial model in that seating was usually plush and reclining, and the aircraft were equipped with a very complete lavatory. If you have photographs you'd like to share of the interior of Hearst's NC14250, please let me KNOW.

The Vultee company discontinued manufacture of the V-1A in 1936, turning its attention to military aircraft. All totaled, 26 examples of the V-1A were manufactured in the production facility at GCAT. Register passenger Gerard "Jerry" Vultee (1900-1938) was the namesake of the aircraft made there.

Vultee NC14250 crashed at San Simeon, CA on February 24, 1938. It departed Burbank, CA about 3PM, flew north to San Simeon and crashed when it overshot the runway in thick fog. The link provides basic information about that crash.

T.J. Chester "Tex" Phillips, February 23, 1930 (Source: San Francisco Chronicle)
T.J. Chester "Tex" Phillips, February 23, 1938 (Source: San Francisco Chronicle)

 

 

The Chicago Tribune of February 25, 1938, right, provided names and other details. Of four people on board, one passenger survived. The airplane was damaged beyond repair. NC14250 appeared in no other Registers. Interestingly, Hearst owned another V-1A, S/N 25, which bore Canadian registration number CF-16099. This airplane had other registration numbers, for example, NC16099, RX-19, AN-AB,I RX-158, HP-158 and N16099. It was finally sold into Panama in 1940. It made its way back to the U.S. and is presently owned (as of the upload date of this page) by the Science Museum of Virginia. I could find no mention of it or photographs at the link. NC16099 is not a Register airplane. I communicated with the Museum and they have no photographs of the airplane they can share. It is not flying.

The pilot on February 24th was T.J. Chester "Tex" Phillips, who began working for Hearst in 1936. The only photograph I have of Phillips is at left from the San Francisco Chronicle, February 23, 1930 (via a Russell family member). That newspaper published a detailed account of the accident, with photographs of the Plunkets.

Coincidentally, Phillips was the brother-in-law of Allen Russell, who brought NC14250 to Clover Field on June 2, 1935, above. Passenger James Lawrence (a bobsled champion), son of Sir Walter Lawrence, was the sole survivor, badly burned. Besides Phillips, passengers Lord and Lady Plunket, guests of Hearst, were killed. If you search for "Hearst Castle" on Google Earth and scroll to the southeast, you will see not only the castle, but also the airstrip used by NC14250 and Phillips, and probably Russell at one time or another. An oral interview with Russell from 1984 is below. It gives a few more details and circumstances surrounding the accident.

Transcript of Russell Interview, 1984 (Russell Family)
Transcript of Russell Interview, 1984 (Russell Family)

The DC-3 was purchased and Russell became its pilot in 1946. And, further, notes from the Hearst archives, below, identify Hearst's other pilots (all but Littrel and Morris were Santa Monica Register pilots), and provide details on his aircraft. Russell is linked above, and information about Ray Crawford is at the link. I'm looking for information about Dick Mitchell. If you have any you can share, please let me KNOW. Art Chandler was a Hearst employee who wrote the account.

Hearst Notes, Source Unidentified, 1999 (Source: Russell Family)
Hearst Notes, Source Unidentified, 1999 (Source: Russell Family)

 

Hearst Notes, Source Unidentified, 1999 (Source: Russell Family)
Hearst Notes, Source Unidentified, 1999 (Source: Russell Family)

Phillips was buried at Monrovia, CA. I have no further information about NC14250. Interestingly, on July 1, 1931 at 12:30PM there was signed in the Santa Monica Register a pilot who wrote only "Phillips" as his name. He was flying the Travel Air 2000 identified as NC4179, S/N 349. T.J. Chester "Tex" Phillips was identified as the pilot of that airplane via a U.S. Immigration Service form posted at his link. Please direct your browser to his biography linked above for further information.

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 08/01/16 REVISED: 08/13/16