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

---o0o---

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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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

---o0o---

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.

---o0o---

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.

---o0o---

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.

---o0o---

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.

---o0o---

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

---o0o---

home
the register
people
places
airplanes
events

YOU CAN HELP

I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Russell and his airplanes to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.

---o0o---

SPONSORED LINKS

PLEASE HELP KEEP THESE WEB SITES ONLINE

 

FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE

You may NOW donate via PAYPAL by clicking the "Donate" icon below and using your credit card. You may use your card or your PAYPAL account. You are not required to have a PAYPAL account to donate.

 

When your donation clears the PAYPAL system, a certified receipt from Delta Mike Airfield, Inc. will be emailed to you for your tax purposes.

 

---o0o---

ALLEN GEORGE RUSSELL

Allen Russell and Vultee, Ca. Mid-1930s (Source: Russell Family via Woodling)
Allen Russell and Vultee, Ca. Mid-1930s (Source: Russell Family via Woodling)

 

Allen Russell is logged three times in the Santa Monica Register. His first two landings were about a week apart, on January 10 and January 17, 1930. Each time he flew NC672H, which he identified as a Monocoupe. In a common online database I use to identify registration numbers, NC672H is identified as a Travel Air Model E-4000, S/N 1230. The same identification is forthcoming at aerofiles.com. Russell clearly wrote NC672H and Monocoupe in the Register both times. Surely he wouldn't have mistaken the makes of airplanes, as they are distinctly different. I have no guess as to the reason for this discrepancy.

His next visit was over five years later, on Sunday, June 2, 1935 at 2:20PM. This time he flew the Vultee Model V-1A identified as NC14250. This airplane was corporate transport for the San Francisco Examiner, published by William Randolph Hearst. At right, Russell is posed next to a V-1A at right. It is not clear if it is NC14250. Depending upon the date, it could be NC16099, another Model V-1A acquired and flown by Hearst in 1937. See further details about this airplane at the link for 14250.

Russell arrived at Clover Field on June 2nd from San Simeon, CA. He carried one unidentified passenger. They remained on the ground a little over an hour before departing for San Simeon. The owner of the airplane was identified as William Randolph Hearst. Indeed, NC14250 was one of a series of aircraft owned by Hearst during the 1920s-1970 for use in his business. He published the San Francisco Examiner newspaper among other properties. Please direct your browser to the airplane's link for further information.

A quote from a blog, below, places Russell in Hearst's employ. The date of his landing with NC14250 would imply that he worked for Hearst from 1935. In so doing, he was a contemporary of Register pilot Ray Crawford, who also flew for Hearst.

"Allen Russell went to work for Hearst as his pilot in 1938 (some say as early as '35). Then in 1940, when Hearst got rid of his plane, Russell went into the Air Force.  Mr. Hearst wrote a letter of recommendation for Allen when he left, stating, 'He is not only the most skillful, in my range of knowledge, but the wisest. He has taken me through many difficult situations, but better than that, he has kept me out of many.' After WWII, Allen returned as Hearst's pilot flying WRH's new DC-3C built by Douglas. The plane had a large, modified cargo door that Hearst liked because it was, 'the only plane I have ever entered without having to remove my hat.'" Pictured are Allen Russell and his wife Billie Russell, who was also the hostess on the plane."

Below, Russell poses with his wife, Billie (Augusta "Billie" Vert), in the very doorway that was high enough for Hearst to wear his hat.

A.G. Russell & Billie Russell, Hearst's DC-3C, Ca. Post-WWII (Source: Woodling)
A.G. Russell & Billie Russell, Hearst's DC-3C, Ca. Post-WWII (Source: Woodling)

Russell was born May 16, 1900 in Fallbrook, CA. He was born into a large family. His first U.S. Census was in 1900, which was counted on June 6th that year. He was about two weeks old. His family included his father Allen (age 45), mother Mary A. (38), brothers Joseph O. (17) and Hartwell C. (15), sisters Maria (13), Dolly A. (10), Mary R. (8), Esther E. (5) and Candace L. (2). He no doubt did not want for sibling care.

The 1910 U.S. Census placed him at age 10 living with his father and mother, three older sisters, Mary (18), Esther (15) and Candace (12) and younger sister Alice (7). His oldest brothers and sisters had moved out. He was registered for the draft in 1918. His draft card is below. Curiously his birth date was recorded as 1899. He joined the Navy, but chronic seasickness resulted in his being sent home. I don't know if he served any further in land-based assignments. If you can help fill in the blanks, please let me KNOW.

Allen G. Russell, WWI Draft Card, September 12, 1918 (Source: ancestry.com)
Allen G. Russell, WWI Draft Card, September 12, 1918 (Source: ancestry.com)

The 1920 Census cited him living at age 19 in West Fallbrook, San Diego County, CA. His father Allen (age 65) and mother (58), sister Alice (16) and a nephew Andrew (11) lived in the home at 39 Main Street. There is nothing residential at that location today. It is an area of small businesses. Andrew was probably the son of one of his older brothers or sisters. His father was a "Farm Laborer" on his "Own Farm." Russell wasn't always an aviator. His occupation was cited in 1920 as a "Mechanic" at a "Garage."

This vocation probably served him well, because for a number of years after WWI surplus military planes were sold off.  Russell bought one.  It came partially disassembled and he had to put it back together.  After assembly, Russell got permission from a local farmer in Fallbrook to use his empty field to learn to fly.  He took off and landed over and over, going higher and higher each time, until he got the hang of it. Things were simpler then.

But he continued his day job. The Pomona city directories for 1922, 1926 and 1928 listed him as a mechanic in the San Dimas garage. The 1922 directory listed him as married to Abbie (see below). And below is his November 19, 1927 application for operating a motorized boat along the Pacific Coast. The back of the form lists about three years of experience on three different vessels dating from 1925.

Application for Motor Boat License, 1927 (Source: ancestry.com)
Application for Motor Boat License, 1927 (Source: ancestry.com)

I found no information that he ever put his boat license to work.

Application for Motor Boat License, 1927 (Source: ancestry.com)
Application for Motor Boat License, 1927 (Source: ancestry.com)

The 1930 Census placed Allen at age 30 living with his wife, Abbie (Abigail "Abbie" Holden; 31) at 113 First St., San Dimas, CA. He and Abbie had a daughter Virginia R. (7) and two sons, Allen, Jr. (3) and Wayne H. (9 months) living with them. Also in the house was Alice Phillips (27), Russell's sister and her daughter Bettie Jane (4). Alice Phillips was married to T.J. Chester "Tex" Phillips who later flew for Hearst from 1936-1938. Phillips was flying the Vultee NC14250 on the day it crashed. Please direct your browser to the airplane's link, above, for further details. Why Phillips was not coded in the Census is not known. Perhaps he was not home that day for one reason or another. The Russell family rented their home for $15 per month. Russell's occupation was listed as "Independent Aviator."

The photo collection below, from an undated photo album, was posted on social media by a Russell family member. It shows Russell at different times with various aircraft. The page was inscribed in green ink with a nib pen, "To My Darling Mother. Best Always. Your Son Allen Russell." The montage appears to be one large photograph of smaller, individual photographs. The smaller photos appear to be mounted on black cutouts that give the illusion of shadows and depth. This detail is unique among the thousands of photographs exhibited on the Delta Mike Airfield, Inc. Web sites.

Allen Russell, Collected Photographs (Source: Russell Family)
Allen Russell, Collected Photographs (Source: Russell Family)

 

Undated & Unsourced News Article (Source: Russell Family)
Undated & Unsourced News Article (Source: Russell Family)

 

Allen Russell's Mother, Date Unknown (Source: Russell Family)
Allen Russell's Mother, Date Unknown (Source: Russell Family)

 

 

An early photograph of Russell's "Darling Mother," and beneficiary of the photomontage above, is at left. She was 16 years old in this photo.

Some items from the montage can be identified from the individual photos. For example, under magnification the wrecked airplane under his inscription can be identified a Curtiss JN-4D, NC6787, S/N 45127. The small image at top right also appears to be the wrecked Jenny from another angle. The Jenny could be the one he purchased surplus, reconstructed and learned to fly in.

The small airplane in the circular image just below his signature is a Monocoupe. I cannot read the registration number, so I do not know if it was the one he allegedly thought he was flying and erroneously recorded in the Clover Field Register on his first visit.

The news article at top center of the montage describes a service from United Airport provided by Russell and his Stinson to transport a businessman to catch a ship to Hawaii. This was, at the time, an excellent example of air transportation in support of commerce. The article is clipped and enlarged at right.

The large image at center right is of Stinson SM-8A NC935W, S/N 4110 (not a Register airplane). It is posed on the ground at United Airport, Burbank, CA. Compare the building behind the airplane with the last image on the page at the link. The people were unidentified. Although not certain, the Stinson could be the one used to fly A.N. Mulen to his ship, "City of Los Angeles."

The photographs at bottom left and right are of unidentified military aircraft. They appear to be a Thomas-Morse Scout. The center image is of a Curtiss OX-5-powered Travel Air 2000. One numeral, "7," is visible on the lower port wing. Here's a long shot. Also signed in the Clover Field Register was Russell's brother-in-law "Tex" Phillips. He was flying a Travel Air 2000, NC4179. They landed on July 1, 1931. The Travel Air could have been NC4179. See further mention of Phillips at the link for the airplane NC14250.

The image of Russell in an open cockpit at center was vignetted from the larger print, below. The vignette in the montage has a pair of wings pinned just below it. I could not read anything on the shield at the center of the wings.

Allen Russell in Open Cockpit, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Russell Family)
Allen Russell in Open Cockpit, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Russell Family)

The photograph labeled "Sonny, Jr." may be Allen, Jr., listed in the 1930 Census as three years old. If it was Allen, Jr., the album was probably dated ca. 1031-32, since Jr. looks a little older than three in the vignette.

The image at center left appears to be a Timm model M-100. It does not appear to be the model C-165 Collegiate NC887E, which was owned and operated by the Trojan Flying Club at United Airport, in which Russell was a member. We know he was a member, because he was photographed for the Los Angeles Times in 1931 while delivering the newspaper by air in a Timm aircraft, probably NC887E. That photograph is below. Compare Russell's profile with the one in the unsourced news article, above.

July 1931: Los Angeles pilot Allen Russel [sic], right, hands a copy of the Los Angeles Times to W.R. Rohrer, manager of Meyers Land Co. (Source: Los Angeles Times)

The article below appeared in the Los Angeles Times, April 18, 2017, describing an article that had appeared with the photograph on July 27, 1931. The older text is in italics. Note the consistent misspelling of Russell's name.

This publicity photo was staged about a week before the actual flight. A closeup look at the front page reveals it's a copy of the July 12, 1931, Los Angeles Times.

The image accompanied a brief story in the July 27, 1931, Los Angeles Times that reported:

Swooping down through a densely wooded section, Allen Russel, local pilot, made the first landing in the resort section of the high Sierras when he set his plane down at Pine Flat Meadows yesterday.

Russel, who is attached to the Trojan Flying Club of the United Airport, dropped into camp with a bundle of Los Angeles Sunday Times, at 7:30 o'clock in the morning, the first newspapers to be delivered by plane in the Sierras.

Another trip will be made to the resort by Russel in his Timm monoplane for the purposes of surveying the Myers Land Company high Sierras resort, El Capinero, so that additional space may be laid out for a permanent landing field for plane travel to and from Los Angeles.

The small community of Pine Flat is located in Tulare County 175 miles from Los Angeles. The Sierra mountain community is at 3,800 feet elevation.

Continuing, the 1933 city directory for Glendale, CA placed Russell and Abbie living at 1621 Lake. His occupation was listed as "Pilot." Russell made at least one foray into Mexico. His return to San Diego was documented on the 1935 U.S. Immigration Service form below. The Agua Caliente, Mexico-to-San Diego, CA itinerary was common among west coast aviators, especially before December, 1933 when Prohibition was the law in the U.S. Mexico had no such laws and thirsty aviators and their passengers often flew south across the border to enjoy a wet weekend.

After Prohibition was lifted, Russell flew celebrities south of the border or to Yuma, AZ for quickie marriages and divorces. One such celebrity marriage was documented in the New York Evening Post, September 18, 1933, when Russell was roused from bed near midnight to fly 22 year-old Jean Harlow and her beau, Harold Rosson, from United Airport to Yuma for an impromptu wedding. After an early morning breakfast at a local diner, they departed back to United Airport. It was Harlow's third marriage.

U.S. Immigration Service Form, February 6, 1935 (Source: ancestry.com)
U.S. Immigration Service Form, February 6, 1935 (Source: ancestry.com)

But I digress. What's of interest on this form is the airplane registered XA-BHE, a Mexican registry assigned to a Lockheed Orion, S/N 186, manufactured in 1931 (nee: NC12228, not a Register airplane). XA-BHE flew with Varney's Mexican line, Lineas Aereas Occidentales, SA, which was based at Burbank, CA from 1934-35. About four months later this airplane was seized and confiscated in Mexico for money owed ($7,800). It flew in Mexico until ca. 1937 and then was shipped to Spain and used by the Spanish Republican Air Force during the Spanish Civil War. It's fate is unknown.

Russell and Abbie parted ways sometime during the early 1930s. The 1940 Census placed Russell at age 39 living in San Simeon, CA. He rented his home for $25 per month. His wife now was identified as Frances G. (Anderson; age 34). They had a son, Jay. R. (7) living with them. Russell's occupation was listed as "Aeroplane pilot" for a "Private Home." The Private Home was his employer William Randolph Hearst's Castle at San Simeon. Interestingly, on the same Census page, the occupants of Hearst's Castle as of the time the Census taker visited were coded as follows.

Occupants of Hearst's Castle, San Simeon, CA at the Time of the 1940 U.S. Census, April 24, 1940 (Source: ancestry.com)
Occupants of Hearst's Castle, San Simeon, CA at the Time of the 1940 U.S. Census, April 24, 1940 (Source: ancestry.com)

The Castle was valued at $1,000,000. Russell was paid well by Hearst, with his salary listed as $5,000+ on the Census form.

But I digress again. It was about this time that Hearst sold his airplanes. At some point in the hiatus between Hearst's employ and the military (see below) he was associated with Timm Aircraft.

Timm Trainer, Ca. 1942 (Source: aerofiles.com)
Timm Trainer, Ca. 1942 (Source: aerofiles.com)

 

The Los Angeles Daily News of April 5, 1941 reported on his work with Timm. During the early years of WWII, Timm developed a wood and plastic-bodied military training aircraft that received certification from the government in 1942. The airplane was powered with a Continental O-470 engine and had a useful load of 680 pounds. It was made using the Aeromold construction method, which involved wood veneers impregnated and fused together at low temperatures with phenolic resin. It was an important development, because its construction did not require complex machine tools, it could be built using unskilled labor and it did not require critical war materials like aluminum alloys and steel. A photograph of the airplane, the Timm N2T-1, is at right as a Navy trainer. Russell was the test pilot for this composite airplane.

He was also associated with American Airlines, as suggested in the following certificate awarded to him. I do not know the circumstances that earned him this award.

Allen Russell, American Airlines Certificate, May 12, 1941 (Source: Russell Family)
Allen Russell, American Airlines Certificate, May 12, 1941 (Source: Russell Family)

 

The Piqua Daily Call of July 2, 1941 identified him as a Lockheed cross-continent ferry flier, below, left. Although WWII was still five months away, there appeared to be a considerable military-type flying activity. Russell is mentioned in the 4th paragraph.

A couple of other Register pilots or passengers are mentioned in the article as well. The steak fry host, Bill Lear was one passenger who appeared in the Davis-Monthan Register on Wednesday, April 10, 1935.

Another signer of the Davis-Monthan Register was Al Gilhousen. He landed early in the life of the Register, probably near February 6, 1925. He carried at least two identified passengers. 

And Ben Branson [sic, should be Bransom] appeared in the Peterson Field Register, October 11, 1934. Steaks would soon become harder to obtain, given the rationing program instituted during WWII.

Russell enlisted in the Army on December 2, 1942, served in Europe and was discharged April 1, 1945. I found no WWII draft card for Russell. He was assigned to the 8th Air Force based in England.

Russell was the first officer decorated in Europe for his work flying damaged and repaired aircraft back to their bases. The link is to a British blog that describes Russell's work ferrying a B-24 named "Pregnant Peg" back to base. Below, right, from Stars & Stripes, July 21, 1943, is a report of how that was done.

The Piqua Daily Call (OH), July 2, 1941 (Source: Woodling)
The Piqua Daily Call (OH), July 2, 1941 (Source: Woodling)

 

Stars & Stripes, December 21, 1943 (Source: Woodling)
Stars & Stripes, December 21, 1943 (Source: Woodling)

A photograph of Russell, center, with British officers admiring his Distinguished Flying Cross is below.

Allen Russell and His Distinguished Flying Cross, Location Unknown (Source: Russell Family)
Allen Russell and His Distinguished Flying Cross, Location Unknown (Source: Russell Family)

Below is an image of Russell at left at an unidentified location in England during WWII. "Stella," was probably another of his saves.

A.G. Russell (L), England, WWII (Source: findagrave.com)
A.G. Russell (L), England, WWII (Source: findagrave.com)

Through his life Russell was married four times and had a total of 6 children. His family summarized his aviation and work life as follows.

He was personal pilot to William Randolph Hearst for many years He also flew for Varney Speedline, Western Airlines, Lockheed, Timm Aircraft and Howard Hughes [American Airlines is not mentioned].

He also had his own charter service for awhile ......and flew in the 8th Army Air Service Command in WW II.  For this service he received a Distinguished Flying Cross.

He was a policeman for a short time (in Pomona,CA?) and also served as manager of a Mobile Park in Newport Beach for 5 years.

Russell also appeared once in the Peterson Field Register, Colorado Springs, CO, on Thursday, July 13, 1933. He flew the Stinson SM-8A he identified as NC930W, S/N 4098.

The last residence I could find for Russell was Morro Bay at San Luis Obispo, CA. Russell flew West on November 24, 1987 at Bakersfield, CA carrying Transport pilot certificate T11403. He was cremated and his ashes scattered at sea in Morro Bay, just south of San Simeon.

---o0o---

SPONSORED LINKS

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 08/13/16 REVISED: