THANK YOU!

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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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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I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Alexander and her 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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There is a collection of Ruth Alexander's letters, creative writings and business records at the International Women's Air & Space Museum. The finding aid is at the link.

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RUTH (Blaney) ALEXANDER ELLIOTT

 

Ruth Alexander, Date Unknown
(Source: ancestry.com)
Ruth Alexander, Date Unknown (Source: ancestry.com)

 

Ruth Alexander appeared once in the Santa Monica Register, on Monday, May 9, 1930. She carried one unidentified passenger in the Fleet 2 she identified as NC637M, S/N 212. The airplane was owned by the Ryan Aircraft Company. She arrived at Clover Field from a location she identified as "American," probably the American Aircraft Corporation field near central Los Angeles east of Santa Monica. She identified her destination as Culver City, CA.

The 1910 U.S. Census, her first, located her living at age 4 in Irving, KS with her father, William T. (age 32) and mother Lillian F. (27). Her father was a "Harnessmaker" in his "Own Shop," and her mother was a "Teacher" in a "Public School." The 1920 Census placed her at age 14 living with her parents in Irving. Her father had changed his occupation to "Storekeeper" in a "Hardware" store. Her mother was not employed outside their home.

Alexander led a busy, but short, life. A collection of her documents is archived at the International Women's Air & Space Museum in Cleveland, OH (right sidebar). The finding aid for her collection is linked, and the finding aid preface is a biographical statement, which I have quoted below.

"Ruth Blaney was born to Mr. and Mrs. William T. Blaney on May 18, 1905 in Irving, Kansas. She died on September 18, 1930 in San Diego, California. In 1911 the family moved to Southern Texas where Ruth’s father operated a sawmill [note the U.S. Census information, above]. At age seven, Ruth made a parachute jump off a barn with her daddy’s umbrella, climbed trees and rode them to the ground as her father felled them, and raced horses. In 1914 the family moved back to Irving where Ruth continued to ride and train horses. She graduated from Irving High School in May 1923 and enrolled in Emporia State Teachers College for the summer term.

"She left college to work as a saleswoman in a general store in Cleburne. A year later (1924) she became owner of a beauty parlor in Olathe. In November 1924 Ruth was thrown by a horse and broke her collarbone in three places. On July 8, 1926 she was married to Mac Alexander who managed his family’s farm and dairy west of Olathe. Two years later she filed papers of separation. Seeking better weather after a bout of pneumonia, Ruth left for San Diego in October, earning her way by helping to drive a car for a couple traveling to California.

"Ruth’s choice of destination was also prompted by a desire to learn to fly ever since she had seen a barnstormer in 1917 and had been up with one in 1926. She settled in Coronado and took jobs in a beauty shop and a restaurant to earn enough money for lessons. In August 1928, she entered a contest to win a course at the T. C. Ryan Flying School. Although she placed second, she was granted a scholarship for 195 hours of navigation and meteorology plus 22 hours of flying instruction.

"Her progress was the fastest of any man or woman in the world [sic]. Between September 8, 1929 and November 19, 1929 she completed ground school at Pacific Technical University, qualified for FIA and NAA licenses and set an altitude record (18,000 feet) for women in a light plane. In January 1930 she learned to fly sail planes [see below] and, according to an obituary, became the first woman instructor in glider planes.

"While she was learning to fly, Ruth was writing articles about her lessons and flying experiences for The Irving Leader. In this way she earned some money and remained connected to her hometown. On June 21, 1930 Ruth was secretly married to Robert A. Elliott in Yuma, Arizona. Robert, from Brooklyn, N. Y., was an ensign in the U. S. Naval Reserve Air Corps and gave Ruth some advanced flying instruction.

"She worked hard to acquire her own Barling monoplane intending to set more records. On July 4 and July 11, 1930 she reset the altitude record twice with flights of 20,000 and 26,600 feet. On September 1, 1930 Ruth departed Vancouver, Canada at 3:25 a.m. and landed in Caliente, Mexico at 7:15 p.m. This flight set three records: woman distance over a specified air course, woman speed record over the same course, and woman’s tri-nation flight. Ruth made plans to set one more record, a three-day, one-stop transcontinental flight from San Diego to Wichita to New York. On the way back she planned several overnight stops including one at Irving.

"Ruth took off before dawn on September 18th from Lindbergh Field and crashed at approximately 3:38 a.m. approximately a mile north of the airport. The San Diego board of air control concluded that Ruth met her death when the overloaded Barling fell into a spin while she was attempting to climb through fog. Her parents and 10- year-old brother were about to leave for Wichita to meet Ruth when the telegrams arrived, and her husband was in New York waiting for her."

Regarding her glider experience, the article below from the Springfield Republican, Springfield, MA, February 24, 1930 reports on an accident she suffered at San Diego during her training.

Ruth Alexander Hurt When Glider Crashes

San Diego, Cal., Feb. 23.--(AP)--Ruth Alexander, holder of the woman's altitude record for airplanes, was injured here today in a glider crash. She had taken off in a primary glider in an effort to qualify for a first-class glider pilot license.

Miss Alexander was caught in a down draught of wind. In banking to overcome it, one of the wings caught a bush and crashed. She was shaken up, her nose skinned and she fainted after landing. She was reported as not seriously injured.

 

Ruth Alexander, Ca. September 1, 1930 (Source: Link)
Ruth Alexander, Ca. September 1, 1930 (Source: Link)

 

Ruth Alexander was the 65th licensed woman pilot in the United States. Her 1930 flight records were documented in the Aircraft Yearbook for 1931 (each annual volume reported on the previous year's activities). One of her altitude records was tersely tabulated among others that year as, "Ruth Alexander sets altitude record for light planes at San Diego of 21,598 ft. (Nicholas Beasley Barling, Warner motored)."

And her September, 1930 flight from Canada to Mexico was described, "Ruth Alexander of San Diego became the first woman to fly non-stop from Canada to Mexico in September when she flew from Vancouver, B.C., to Agua Caliente, 1,460 miles, in 16 hours despite headwinds most of the way." The photograph, left, from The Oregon Historical Society, shows her just before or after that flight. Her airplane is the same one she is pictured with above.

RUTH BLANEY

ELLIOTT

1905-1930

Ruth Alexander Aviatrix

 

Unfortunately, she lived only three months after her marriage to Ensign Elliott. Her death came early in another record attempt. Her headstone is pictured at ancestry.com, but is a poor photo and I won't display it here. It is revealing that it is engraved as at right. Her family included all the names she was known under, including the one she used through most of her flying life. It is also the one she used to sign the Register about four months before she married Elliott. Her family knew she was duly proud of her aviator status and they commemorated her death while she was doing what she loved to do.

 

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 03/16/16 REVISED: 05/16/16, 06/29/18