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


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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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


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.


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.


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.


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.


the register



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


The definitive reference for early Lockheed aircraft is:

Allen, Richard S. 1988. Revolution in the Sky: The Lockheeds of Aviation's Golden Age. Orion Books, NY. 253 pp.



NC48M was manufactured during October, 1929 by the Lockheed Aircraft Factory, Burbank, CA. It was S/N 100. It is signed in the Clover Field Register once, on Thursday, August 15, 1935. At the time of its landing it was owned by Paul Mantz, and he was flying it that day. He indicated no time of day, destination or purpose for the flight. Below, from the American Aviation Historical Society Journal (AAHS), Winter, 1989, is a starboard profile of NC48M photographed in 1935. The caption identifies it as belonging to Mantz, 1933-38.

Lockheed NC48M, 1935 (Source: AAHS via Woodling)


Paul Mantz With Lockheed Vega NC48M, Date & Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)


NC48M left the factory with a Pratt & Whitney Wasp C engine, S/N 1926. It was sold initially to Corporacion Aeronautica de Transportes, S.A. (CAT) based at Torreon, Mexico. It wore Mexican registration XA-BHK. CAT owned and operated it until 1932 when it was mortgaged to Huasteca Petroleum Company, Torreon, during 1932. It was purchased by Mantz in 1932 and he owned and operated it in his charter and aviation motion picture sectors of his business based at United Airport, Burbank, CA.

The undated photograph at left is from the SDAM Flickr Stream and shows Mantz with cigar in front of NC48M. The airplane was also flown as the "Honeymoon Express." Couples chartered it to fly to Las Vegas or Reno, NV, or Yuma, AZ, all honeymoon capitols at that time.

NC48M was also used for an air ambulance. Below, from the University of Southern California Digital Library (USCDL) is an image of NC48M performing that role. The patient on a stretcher is being passed through the passenger door while what appear to be uniformed nurses and a doctor standby at the right. Two suitcases stand open in the center foreground containing what looks like medical supplies.

The ambulance at left has signs in the front window and on the door that say, "Invalid Coach." I recognize none of the people. If you can, please let me KNOW.

NC48M also appears twice in the Albuquerque, NM Register during 1934 and 1935. Both times it was flown by Mantz. It also appeared in the motion picture "Wings in the Dark," which you can view in its entirety on YouTube at the link. NC48M appears near the end of that film. I'm looking for information and other photographs of NC48M. If you can help, please let me KNOW.

Lockheed NC48M in Air Ambulance Role, Ca. 1933 (Source: USCDL)
Lockheed NC48M in Air Ambulance Role, Ca. 1933 (Source: USCDL)


According to this source of aircraft accident data, NC48M crashed at St. George, UT on December 13, 1938. The link states, "The single engine aircraft christened 'Honeymoon Express' was owned by Paul Mantz (pilot) and used for cinematography. With two photographers on board, he was completing some maneuver for the movie 'Only Angels Have Wings' with Cary Grant. While landing, the aircraft hit the ground violently, went out of control and came to rest upside down. A photographer was killed while both other occupants were injured. The aircraft was destroyed." The crash date is corroborated in the Allen reference cited in the right sidebar, but Allen does not mention fatalities. He does document other accidents with 48M that occurred at Pomona, CA February 2, 1936, Las Vegas, NV May 30, 1936 and Brawley, CA July 21, 1938.


Ogden Standard Examiner, January 13, 1939 (Source: Woodling)
Ogden Standard Examiner, January 13, 1939 (Source: Woodling)


And with this a mystery is born. There was no news coverage or reports of a crash that occurred on December 13, 1939.

In fact, other sources state that Mantz's accident occurred on January 13, 1939 and not December 13, 1938. For example, the Ogden Standard Examiner of January 13th, right, stated that Mantz was uninjured. It cited the location as St. George, UT. Incidentally, "Plane No. 4" was the working title used during the filming of "Only Angels Have Wings." It is listed as such at the link. Neither does this article mention passenger injuries or deaths.

Curiously, and inaccurately, this article and the Charleston Gazette (SC), January 15, 1939 stated, "Friday, the 13th, hit the Columbia lot with more bad luck than any other studio. That plane Paul Mantz 'cracked up' in while he was stunting for 'Plane No. 4' was a sister ship to the one Amelia Earhart disappeared in." Although both Earhart's and NC48M were Lockheed aircraft, they were entirely different models, an Electra and a Vega, respectively. Calling them "sister ships" was stretching. Regardless, this quote appeared in Louella Parsons' syndicated gossip column and showed up in other papers as well.

Winnipeg Free Press, January 14, 1939 (Source: Woodling)


To continue, the Salt Lake Tribune of January 14, 1939 stated, "... Mantz struck the ground too hard, the left landing gear gave way, and the ship settled onto the left wing. Damage was trivial ... injury was nil." And the Winnipeg Free Press of the same date covered the news, left.

So we have an online air crash database and a reliable Lockheed resource stating that a crash of NC48M occurred, piloted by Mantz, on December 13, 1939 at St. George, UT. These two sources disagree as to injuries or fatalities. And on the other hand there was news reportage that verified the location and pilot, but on a different date, and that mentioned no injuries or fatalities. There is something unclear here that I haven't been able to put a finger on. If you can help solve this, please let me KNOW.

There is one photograph of the crash in Allen's book on page 169, below. Note the left wing touching the ground, agreeing with the news accounts. The airplane did not flip on its back and "come to rest upside down" as suggested in the online resource cited above. Allen does mention in his description of this accident that NC48M was a "total washout" and that all the scenes of the movie in which it appeared had to be shot again.

NC48M As F-LTM in Movie Livery, Ca. 1938-39 (Source: Allen)
NC48M As F-LTM in Movie Livery, Ca. 1938-39 (Source: Allen)

I received the following information from a site visitor on May 20, 2017: "Just wanted to let you know that the Lockheed Vega  NC48M also appears near the end the film "Happiness Ahead" (1934).  It is in the Manz paint scheme as the photos on your site show. I'm sorry I don't have any screenshots to send you, and the film doesn't appear to be in the public domain online."



THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 05/02/16 REVISED: 05/15/16, 05/21/17