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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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

J.W. Harper, 1923 (Source: ancestry.com)
J.W. Harper, 1923 (Source: ancestry.com)

 

Joseph W. Harper was born May 24, 1903 in New York City. I could find no 1910 U.S. Census data for him. He appears, left, in a photograph from an August 3, 1923 passport application. He was 20 years old. From his passport application, we learn that he lived in Paris, France from 1912-1913, and that he had been in Paris from March 1923 through the time he applied for his passport at the American Embassy. His application request was an "emergency," which probably meant he lost his original, which was issued February 20, 1923.

Harper is signed three times in the Clover Field Register. He was solo each time. His first visit was on Saturday, July 13, 1935 at 2:10PM. He flew the Kinner B-2 Sportwing he identified as NC13797 (S/N 128). He wrote "GC" (Grand Central Air Terminal -GCAT) in the arrived from and destination columns of the Register. He identified himself as the owner of the airplane.

His next landing was sometime between October 1 and October 6, 1935 (he didn't enter an arrival date or time in the Register). His itinerary was a round-robin to and from GCAT. This time he flew the Kinner B-2 Sportwing he identified as NC14234 (S/N 144). The Kinner Motors Company was identified as the owner of NC14234.

Kinner B-2 Sportwing, NC14234 (Source: aerofiles.com)
Kinner B-2 Sportwing, NC14234 (Source: aerofiles.com)

 

The Sportwings were sleek, two-place, low-wing monoplanes that cost $4,600 new ca. 1933. They cruised at about 110MPH behind a 125HP Kinner B-5 engine. They were manufactured at the Kinner facility at the GCAT. At right, from aerofiles.com, is a photograph of NC14234, date unknown.

Harper's third landing at Santa Monica was on Sunday, October 6, 1935 at 4:10PM. This time his airplane was the Kinner B-2 Sportwing he identified as NC14927. His itinerary, again, was a GCAT round-robin. NC14927 is still registered with the FAA and lives in Windham, NH. Its airworthiness certificate is due to expire August 31, 2019.

The 1920 U.S. Census placed Harper (age 16) living with his step-father, Joseph R. Grismer (70) in New York City. He shared the home with his mother, Olive E. (41), and a younger half-sister, Olive E. (4). That address today is a neighborhood of well-maintained brownstones and apartment buildings, just about a block from Riverside Park and the Hudson River. They lived with a practical nurse, a housemaid and a cook.

Desert Sun, March 29, 1935 (Source: newspapers.com)
Desert Sun, March 29, 1935 (Source: newspapers.com)

 

At some point in the 1920s, Harper married Constance Garland (1907-1988) and moved to California. The 1930 Census placed Harper (26) and Constance (22) living in Los Angeles in a home they rented for $200 per month. Their son, John W. (6-months) lived with them, as did Nellie Preston (49), a servant. Harper's occupation was listed as a "Manager" in the "Real Estate" industry. Constance was an "Artist-Illustrator." His mother, Olive Grismer, now a widow, lived next door in a home valued at $40,000. Her daughter, Harper's step-sister, Olive E. now 15, lived with her.

An immigrations document cites the Harper's travel from Los Angeles, CA to New York aboard the S.S. California from August 14th to August 28, 1933. Son John W. was not with them. Their residence in California was identified as 2053 De Mille Drive, Los Angeles. This address today is a large, red tile-roofed home in what appears to be an upscale neighborhood.

Three years later, an immigration form recorded Harper's travel from Southampton, England on March 27, 1936, arriving in New York aboard the S.S. Bremen on April 1st. Neither Constance or John W. were listed as passengers.

Coincidentally, on the same immigration form, on the line just above Harper, a Robert Porter was listed as a passenger on the same voyage. It is not clear if this Robert Porter was our Clover Field Register pilot, but his age was listed on the form as 47, which agrees with Porter's age in 1935 (born 1888).

It is clear, however, that Harper knew Porter, because they flew in each other's presence as evidenced in the article at right from the Palm Springs Desert Sun of March 29, 1935. Porter was the president of the Kinner Aircraft Company and they both flew Kinner aircraft. Note that Harper and Constance spent a month at Palm Springs earlier in the year. Note also that, according to the article, Porter and his party arrived at Palm Springs airport with a passenger named Cecilia DeMille Calvin.

J.W. Harper, Date Unknown (Source: findagrave.com)
J.W. Harper, Date Unknown (Source: findagrave.com)

 

I don't know when Harper and Constance were divorced, but about three years after this article was published, on January 21, 1938, Harper married actress Cecilia DeMille Calvin (1908-1984) in Jackson, MO. She was the daughter of Cecil Blount DeMille (1881-1959) of Hollywood movie-making fame. Harper was a member of the Harper publishing family. Photograph, left, is from findagrave.com.

San Bernardino County Sun, January 7, 1938 (Source: newspapers.com)

 

 

 

 

Further to the Desert Sun article, however, note that it is a Who's Who of Register signers. Besides Harper, visitors to Palm Springs included Register pilots Howard Hughes, Gladys O'Donnell, Earl Vance, Francis D. "Chief" Bowhan, W.D. "Bill" Warren, Dick Mitchell flying W.R. Hearst's Vultee NC14250, Arthur N. Pack, Robert Porter and his wife Lillian Porter, Ed Campbell, Clare N. Kingsbury, Vance Breese and Gus Pitcairn (no relation to the aircraft manufacturer). The fact that Harper flew Kinner aircraft and traveled with the Kinner president suggests he worked for or with Kinner or was interested in selling real estate to the aviation crowd. I found no information about that.

According to the article at left from the San Bernardino County Sun, January 7, 1938, it was the second marriage for both of them. We might conjecture that their meeting at Palm Springs in 1935 could have sparked a mutual interest. Their marriage license is below. Notice that Cecilia did not fully complete the form.

 

J.W. Harper & Cecelia DeMille Calvin, Marriage License, January 21, 1938 (Source: ancestry.com)
J.W. Harper & Cecelia DeMille Calvin, Marriage License, January 21, 1938 (Source: ancestry.com)

About three months after their marriage, they showed up on an immigration form returning from Villefranche on board the Comte di Savoia on March 24, 1938. They probably took a European honeymoon.

The 1940 U.S. Census placed them living in Los Angeles, CA. Harper (age 35) was a "Broker" in the "Real Estate" industry. He and Cecilia (31) lived with two children, Peter C. (7) and Cecilia C., (3) and their maid identified as Florence Sands (51). They owned their home, which was valued at $20,000 on the Census form. He was coded as living in the same home in 1935.

Joseph W. Harper, Grave Marker, 1963 (Source: ancestry.com)
Joseph W. Harper, Grave Marker, 1963 (Source: ancestry.com)

 

Cecilia and Harper had a son, Joseph Wesley Harper, Jr. on March 27, 1943 in Los Angeles.

According to information at findagrave.com, he was a retired lieutenant colonel of the U.S. Air Force and a board member of the Boy Scouts of America and several other organizations. He served as secretary-treasurer of the Motion Pictures Associates and co-produced “The Ten Commandments,” C.B. DeMille's biblical epic from 1956.

Harper flew West on September 10, 1963 in La Jolla, CA. He carried pilot certificate 31482. His grave marker is at right.

Kinner B-2R Sportwing, ca. 1936 (Source: aerofiles.com)
Kinner B-2R Sportwing, ca. 1936 (Source: aerofiles.com)

 

Harper also signed the Parks Airport Register on Thursday, April 23, 1936. He flew the Kinner Sportwing B-2R he identified as NC14964. Manufactured in 1936, the model B-2R wore a 160HP Kinner R-5 engine, which produced a cruise speed of 120MPH. The B-2R, left, looked very much like the B-2.

 

 

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