OTHER RESOURCES

Some of this information comes from the listings of Non-Prefixed and Non-Suffixed aircraft reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC.

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STINSON SM-2 JUNIOR NC7783

This Stinson was S/N 1027 manufactured by the Stinson Aircraft Corporation, Northville, MI. According to NASM information (left sidebar) it was manufactured during September, 1928. It left the factory with a 110HP Warner Scarab engine (S/N 33). It landed at Santa Monica on Sunday, January 1, 1929 flown solo by Charles V. Towns. Towns arrived at Santa Monica from Rogers Field, Los Angeles, CA. His destination was cited as Santa Monica. No reason was given for his flight that day, but see below.

The airplane's first owner was the Tanner Motor Livery, which purchased the airplane from the company on October 6, 1928 for $6,750. The integration of Stinson aircraft into Tanner's transport business was cited in the journal Aviation on April 6, 1929 as follows.

Another service which offers the greatest possibilities to taxi-plane operators everywhere has been developed by the Tanner Motor Livery Co. In this case an analysis of tourist traffic led the Tanner Motor Livery to add an Air Livery service to the parlor car and limousine service which has been provided Eastern tourists for a number of years. The Tanner Motor Livery operates 20 deluxe parlor cars over eight regular scenic routes, and 200 limousines with chauffeurs who drive those customers who seek a more exclusive mode of sightseeing. Two of the parlor car routes include Clover Field, Santa Monica, in their itinerary. The Air Livery therefore was established at Clover Field with two Stinson cabin planes as initial equipment and a combination bus and cabin plane tour was advertised.

The traffic has been sufficient to warrant doubling the number of cabin planes used, within the first six months of operation. Several buses are operated over the two tours which pass Clover Field. These arrive at intervals of 15 or 20 min. and thus permit a steady volume of air traffic throughout the afternoon and on every day of the week. Those passengers who do not take the flight are shown about the field by a guide. Passengers on other divisions of the Tanner Motor Tours are told about the combination bus and air tour and many are thus induced to take advantage of it.

It is not clear if NC7783 was the first or a subsequent Stinson purchased by the company. We can guess that its landing at Santa Monica might have been in conjunction with its work for Tanner.

The photograph, below, from the same publication, shows a Stinson parked next to one of Tanner's "parlor cars." The registration number under the port wing is, unfortunately, not readable. The airplane is, however, a Stinson SM-2.

Tanner Motors' Stinson, Aviation, April 6, 1929 (Source: AV)

 

NC7783 exchanged hands at least twenty times between 1928 and November 13, 1943. It reached the end of its life then, at least administratively, when its owners failed to reply to an inquiry letter, and its registration and airworthiness certificate were cancelled upon their expiration. I have no information on the fate of the airframe.

Tanner operated NC7783 for about 130 flight hours before selling it six months after it was purchased to Roy C. Patten of Whittier, CA on March 2, 1929 for $5,200. Although not a Register pilot, Patten was the owner of another Register airplane, NC684K, which is still registered with the FAA. According to a Los Angeles City Directory for 1933, Patten was a dealer in used cars, and perhaps used airplanes.

Patten kept the airplane for a very short time before he sold it to Register pilot and airplane dealer/broker H.C. Lippiatt on April 18, 1929. Lippiatt sold the airplane again on November 22, 1929 for $4,750 to begin a chain of ten transfers within the state of California. One of the transfers was accompanied by an accident in Los Angeles on September 28, 1931. Repairs were made to the wing and it was returned to service in October. By this time NC7783 had accumulated over 800 flight hours.

NC7783 then moved to Texas on February 2, 1938 through a sale to Edwin W. Ritchey at Meacham Field, Fort Worth. The NASM record notes that it was completely re-covered with new fabric and underwent a general overhaul as of December 1, 1937.

Interestingly, on September 24, 1941, NC7783 was damaged at Houston by the unnamed hurricane that came ashore at East Matagorda Bay, TX late on September 23rd. The record states that the propeller was broken. If this was the only damage, the airplane was fortunate, because the storm hit land with winds of 125MPH. The city of Houston suffered extensive damage as the storm passed to the east. Overall, the damages were estimated at $6.5 million. Seven people were killed, three of them in Toronto as the extratropical storm moved into Canada.

The owners at the time of the hurricane damage were H. Marvin Trussel, Jr. and Remmel L. Shibley of Houston. They had the airplane certified to fly through July 1, 1941. They were the owners who did not respond to the inquiry letter mentioned above.

The final entry in the chain of custody was a sale to R.B. Johnson of Houston. He bought NC7783 for $300 on November 13, 1943. It is not clear if it ever flew again. Perhaps it sits today in a Texas barn waiting to be rediscovered.

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