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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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

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ALGER F. GRAHAM

Alger Graham landed once at Clover Field on Tuesday, November 26, 1929. He was flying the Fleet Model 2 he identified as NC425K (S/N 148). Unfortunately, he left us no information in the Register regarding his homebase, itinerary or destination.

Detroit Free Press, June 16, 1917 (Source: newspapers.com)

 

From his obituary (below) Graham was a WWI veteran. The only news evidence I found is at right from June 16, 1917. It seems he joined the Canadian Army in June 1917, attesting, according to the form below, to being born in Canada. He might have felt comfortable doing this, because his father, Frank, a farm laborer, was born in Canada, emigrating to the U.S. in 1897, a year before Alger's birth.

A. Graham, Canadian Citizenship Attestation, June 8, 1917 (Source: ancestry.com)
A. Graham, Canadian Citizenship Attestation, June 8, 1917 (Source: ancestry.com)

 

Albuquerque Journal (NM), May 25, 1927 (Source: newspapers.com)
Albuquerque Journal (NM), May 25, 1927 (Source: newspapers.com)

 

Detroit Free Press, June 27, 1917 (Source: newspapers.com)
Detroit Free Press, June 27, 1917 (Source: newspapers.com)

 

His mother was informed by cable that he arrived safely in France, left. Four months later, in October 1917 he was discharged from the Canadian Army and joined the Royal Flying Corps as a cadet, later receiving a commission in that organization. Curiously, the 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 U.S. Census listed his birthplace as Michigan. In the 1900 census he is listed as Fred A. Graham, born in Michigan.

Despite his apparent perjury in 1917, he later led an interesting life in aviation. Graham acted as ferry pilot for the first Wilkins Arctic Expedition (1913-18).  While with the Expedition, in 1917, he flew gasoline and supplies across the Endicott Mountains, in Alaska, to Point Barrow. How he managed his Canadian Army, Royal Flying Corps and Arctic Expedition responsibilites in such a short time period is a mystery. If you can solve it, please let me KNOW.

After this period of high activity, Graham appeared to settle down for a while. The 1920 Census placed him at age 21 living with his grandmother as head of household. His widowed mother and three siblings were with them. Graham was coded as single in 1920. His occupation was a real estate salesman. A lone article appeared in the Daily Chronicle-Herald, Macon, MO, September 28, 1925. It identified Graham as part of a refueled endurance team led by Eddie Stinson, who, with Graham and Jerry Machle, were ascending that day to attempt four days in the air.

Graham, 1927, Arctic
Expedition
(Source: Link via Woodling)
Graham, 1927, Arctic Expedition (Source: Link via Woodling)

 

 

Graham also flew for the 1927 Arctic Expedition as these two photos document. The University of Alaska, Fairbanks mounts online Alaska's Digital Archives. At left, from the Archives, is a photograph of Graham standing by the empennage of a Stinson Detroiter. The Archive states, "Photograph shows Detroit News-Wilkins Arctic Expedition pilot Alger Graham by tail of Stinson Detroiter during 1927."

The article at right from the Albuquerque Journal, May 25, 1927, describes one mission flown by Graham and his boss, Wilkins. This particular mission, one of many in such a harsh enviorment, was cancelled because the Fokker aircraft they flew was unable to reach a critical altitude to cross a mountain range. Carl Eielson, mentioned in the article, was founder in 1929 of Alaska Airways, for whom Graham worked for a short time (see below).

The photograph, below, also from the Archives shows a Stinson Detroiter in Alaska in 1927. The caption from the link states, "Photograph shows men standing around a Stinson Detroiter airplane. One man appears to be fueling up the airplane from a 55-gallon oil drum." Whether Graham was in this photograph was not mentioned at the link. But, either the gentlemen second from left or standing on the oil drum could be Graham. Note the coat design of the man on the drum, and the map case carried by the gentleman second from left. Compare them and their hats to the photo above.

Newspapers during 1927 published many articles about the exploits of Wilkins and his crew as they explored the Arctic and Antarctic. They included accounts like the one at right, as well as descriptions of rescue flights after Wilkins and Eielson became lost northeast of Point Barrow due to "motor trouble."

Graham, 1927, Arctic Expedition (Source: Link via Woodling)
Graham, 1927, Arctic Expedition (Source: Link via Woodling)

This 1928 REFERENCE cites Graham located at Grand Canyon, AZ holding Transport license T989. It does not cite his occupation, but he was probably flying for Scenic Airways, which carried tourists over the appropriately-named Grand Canyon.

Alger Graham, Ca. 1928 (Source: Kalina)
Alger Graham, Ca. 1928 (Source: Kalina)

 

Graham participated in the Ford Reliability Tour in 1928. He appears, right, in a photograph shared by site contributor, Tim Kalina. He sits in the airplane he competed with in the Tour. Below is an article from the Wausau (WI) Daily Herald, July 25, 1928, which shows him with his airplane, the Buhl CA-3 Airster NC5861 (S/N 27).

NC5861 appeared in our Registers five times, once at Parks Airport and four times in the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register. A photograph and movie footage of NC5861 during the National Air Tour are at the link. If you have photographs of this airplane, please let me KNOW. At Graham's biography page at the Davis-Monthan Register Web site, he sits in this airplane with Detroit News livery, probably just before the Air Tour.

Also, Graham is pictured in chapter 4 of the Forden REFERENCE, downloadable at the link, on page 83 (he is identified as number 11 in the group photo).  He is cited in the table on page 84 as the pilot of Buhl NC5861 (race #7).  His final standing was in 16th place. Notice that his Tour airplane was painted in Monarch Coffee Company livery, as below.

Wausau Daily Herald (WI), July 25, 1928 (Source: newspapers.com via Woodling)
Wausau (WI) Daily Herald, July 25, 1928 (Source: newspapers.com via Woodling)
Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, August 4, 1928 (Source: newspapers.com)
Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, August 4, 1928 (Source: newspapers.com)

 

 

Indeed, his 1928 landing at Tucson was in association with his participation in the Reliabilty Tour. You'll notice in the photograph at the link, his airplane was the same one he flew in the Tour, but it is painted in different livery.

Shortly after the 1928 Tour, which ran from June 30-July 28, Graham was dispatched by the Monarch Coffee parent company to Pennsylvania. An article, right, from the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, August 4, 1928 described his assignment, which appeared to be for advertising purposes.

The 1930 Census placed Graham at age 33 married and living with and aunt and uncle in Clinton Township, MI, now a northern suburb of Detroit. His occupation was listed as Aviator in Commercial Aviation. His wife was not in the household at the time of the Census. I could find no information about when or where he was married the first time.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, January 30, 1931 (Source: newspapers.com)
Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, January 30, 1931 (Source: newspapers.com)

 

 

Graham soon accepted a job with Alaska Airways, and the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, January 30, 1931 documented his arrival in Alaska to assume his new duties, left. He arrived with his first wife, still unidentified. They had departed Seattle, WA on January 10th aboard the steamship Alameda. Joe Crosson was the only pilot named in the article who signed a Register. Another article two months later in the same newspaper, dated April 24, 1931, documented his return to Fairbanks from Nome with Mrs. Graham.

Salt Lake Tribune, May 28, 1934 (Source: newspapers.com)
Salt Lake Tribune, May 28, 1934 (Source: newspapers.com)

 

Clusters of news articles appeared that documented Graham's flying activities. Articles during 1927 addressed his Arctic Expedition flying. Articles during 1928, his Air Tour progress; articles during 1929-31, his work with Alaska Airways. News coverage dwindled after 1931. A harrowing experience appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune, May 28, 1934, right.

At some point, he broke his relationship with his first wife. At age 41, on April 6, 1940, Graham married Beulah M. Cottrell (1904-1981) age 35. It was the second marriage for both of them. His occupation on the marriage license, exhibited below, was identified as "Aviator" and hers was coded as "Beauty Operator."

 

Alger Graham/Beulah Cottrell Marriage License, April 6, 1940 (Source: ancestry.com)

The 1940 Census listed their address as 1035 North Capital Avenue, Lansing, MI. His occupation was coded as "Aviator" for "C and J." The Lansing city directories for 1940-41 identified his employer as "C & J Driveaway." We learn from his obituary, below that C & J Driveaway was a commercial trucking company, and that he was a pilot for them. The C & J Company was long-lived. An unrelated antitrust lawsuit dating from 1985 identified C&J as follows, "C & J is a delivery service that delivers vehicles from their place of manufacture."

In 1940, Alger and Beulah rented their home for $40 per month. Their address today is a vine-covered, two-storey, brick home with detached garage on a corner lot. It is probably 1940-vintage. They were truly newlyweds, because, coincidentally, the Census in their neighborhood was enumerated on April 6th!

During WWII, he enlisted as a captain at age 44 and flew with the 16th Aerial Photographic Survey group and became an instructor in arctic flying and rescue. I have no information about his life during or after WWII until the time of his passing. If you can help fill in the blanks, please let me KNOW.

Alger Graham Grave Marker, 1953 (Source: findagrave)
Alger Graham Grave Marker, 1953 (Source: findagrave)
Lansing State Journal (MI), October 5, 1953 (Source: newspapers.com via Woodling)
Lansing State Journal (MI), October 5, 1953 (Source: newspapers.com via Woodling)

 

 

 

Sault Ste. Marie (MI) Evening News, October 6, 1953 (Source: Woodling)
Sault Ste. Marie (MI) Evening News, October 6, 1953 (Source: Woodling)

Graham was born at Mount Clemens, MI on January 27, 1898. He flew West October 2, 1953, a young man. His grave marker, and that of his wife, Beulah, is above left. Brief obituaries from two sources are at right.

In addition to his single landing in Santa Monica, Graham landed and signed the Davis-Mionthan Airfield Register four times between 1928 and 1931. More of Alger Graham's biography is at the Davis-Monthan Register site at the link. Please direct your browser there for additional information, other photographs, and to view a special artifact of Graham's service during WWII.

 

 

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 06/13/13 REVISED: 04/18/18