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

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I'm looking for information and photographs of Porter 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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ROBERT PORTER

 

Robert Porter was born May 1, 1888. He married fellow Register pilot Lillian Porter (nee: Tucker) when she was 18 years old, on May 16, 1912 (wedding date confirmed via ancestry.com). Lillian, a pilot in her own right, is signed in the Clover Field Register as well as the Grand Central Air Terminal (GCAT) Register. Her biography, with photographs, is at her link that takes you over to the GCAT Register Web site. Please come back.

The 1920 U.S. Census cites Robert living with Lillian T. in Detroit, MI. Robert was a 1910 immigrant from England (via Canada to Maine). His occupation in 1920 was listed as "Manager" in the "Steel Products" industry. Lillian was not identified as employed in 1920. Robert also landed once and signed the Register at Parks Field, East St. Louis, IL and five times at the Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ (but see below).

On October 24, 1927, Robert declared his intention to establish U.S. citizenship according to the declaration below.

Robert Porter, Intention to Become U.S. Citizen, October 24, 1927 (Source: ancestry.com)

The 1940 U.S. Census confirmed that he was a naturalized citizen.

Amarillo Sunday News Globe, April 6, 1930 (Source: Woodling)
Amarillo Sunday News Globe, April 6, 1930 (Source: Woodling)

 

Porter arrived at Clover Field once and signed the Register on Thursday, July 18, 1929 at 10:45AM. He left no record of passengers. He flew the Fleet 2 airplane he identified as NC9434 (S/N 82). He arrived at Santa Monica from GCAT and noted his destination as a return to GCAT. He wrote "Grand Central" in the remarks. He gave no reason for his flight. The owner of the airplane was identified as "Kinner Motors Company."

Piecing together bits of information from news articles on Lillian's biography page linked above (q.v), it appears that Robert was designing airplanes for Kinner. One of his designs was a folding wing model flown by Lillian to Oakland, CA. A news article at her link describes that flight, and her role as an officer with the Kinner Aircraft & Engine Company.

The 1930 U.S. Census cites Robert (age 41) living at 3745 Invermere Drive in La Crescenta, CA in greater Los Angeles. He and Lillian rented their home for $150/month. Robert was listed a "Consultant" in the "Business" industry.

He was still flying, and the news article at left describes a flight in a Waco aircraft from Los Angeles to Detroit in April, 1930. Although the timing was two months later than the article, one of Porter's landings at Tucson was made on June 6, 1930 in the Waco DSO NX651N. This airplane was S/N X3203 manufactured during 1930. It was a prototype. Perhaps it was the same airplane as mentioned in the article.

Regardless, he had some navigational problems with his aircraft due to a magnetic compass that was not calibrated correctly. Most navigation was performed by dead reckoning in 1930 and an accurate compass was a prerequisite for navigational precision.

From an immigration form found at ancestry.com, Porter traveled on February 28, 1932 with Lillian from Ensenada, Mexico aboard the S.S. Ruth Alexander inbound to Los Angeles. Routings for the ship during 1932 included Seattle, Victoria, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Ensenada.

Robert Porter, Draft Registration Card, Ca. 1942 (Source: ancestry.com)
Robert Porter, Draft Registration Card, Ca. 1942 (Source: ancestry.com)

 

Porter had a presence in the Registers from July 18, 1929 to July 19, 1935. And actually these two bracketing dates appear in another Register I have from Oxnard Field, Albuquerque, NM. Porter is signed six times (Lillian once) in that Register. All totaled, Robert Porter appears at least 13 times across five Registers. Besides NC9434, Porter flew the Fleet NC786V, the Kreutzer NC243M, Waco NX651N and the Kinner NC14239. He was also cited in a news article posted at Frank Hover's Web page over in Tucson. He had flown a Fleet from Los Angeles and was recorded as landing at Roosevelt Field, NY.

I have no information about Porter's life during the late 1930s and onward. I only found the 1940 U.S. Census, which placed him living in a hotel in Detroit, MI employed as a "Production Engineer" in the "Automobile Industry." His salary was $5,000+ per year, a good salary for 1940. Lillian was not with him, but his marital status was coded as married.

As WWII progressed, a cohort of older men was required to register for the draft. Above is Porter's draft registration card, ca. 1942 at age 52. Note that he was employed by the Los Angeles Ship Building & Dry Dock Corporation. The Corporation was one of the the largest yards at the port of Los Angeles during WWII and concentrated on building Liberty and Victory ships. 

As far as I can determine, Porter died in May, 1963 in Mississippi. If you have a better date for his passing, or photographs, or information that helps fill in the blanks, please let me KNOW.

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 11/30/15 REVISED: