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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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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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Information on the Lockheed Vega NC7973, c/n 32, is available on p. 211 of Allen, R.S. 1988. Revolution in the Sky. Orion Books, NY.

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I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Stanford 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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DEBIE STANFORD

Debie Stanford landed once at Clover Field, on Wednesday, August 19, 1931. She arrived solo from Houston, TX in NC277M, which she identified as a Fairchild KR-34. That registration number, however, was assigned to a Waco at the time. However, NC27M and NC217M were assigned to Fairchild KR-34s. Take a look at Register page 20 (about a quarter of the way down the page) and see what you think the number might be. Below, Stanford stands alone in flying outfit. The wedding ring is probably from her second marriage.

Debie Stanford, Ca. 1930 (Source: Tudge/Riley Family)
Debie Stanford, Ca. 1930 (Source: Tudge/Riley Family)

Regardless of her airplane registration, her grand nephew provides us with the following information and photographs. She was born Sarah Tudge on October 12, 1902 in Wigan, UK. Her parents were Moses Tudge and Alice Tudge (nee Brundrett). Sarah was the younger sister of Annie and Alice (who was our contributor's grandmother). The family lived at 27 Ward Street in Wigan. Sarah always went by the name Debie which was apparently her middle name but it was not noted on the certified copy (April 4, 2001) of her birth certificate, below.

Debie Stanford, nee Sara Tudge, Birth Certificate, October 12, 1902 (Source: Tudge/Riley Family)
Debie Stanford, nee Sara Tudge, Birth Certificate, October 12, 1902 (Source: Tudge/Riley Family)

Debie married William James Collins, an Able Seaman for the Royal Navy, on January 4, 1919. A certified copy (April 4, 2001) of their marriage certificate is below. Note that she cited her age as 21 years. Being born in October, 1902, she would have been only 17 in January, 1919.

Sarah Tudge & William James Collins, Marriage Certificate, January 4, 1919 (Source: Tudge/Riley Family)
Sarah Tudge & William James Collins, Marriage Certificate, January 4, 1919 (Source: Tudge/Riley Family)

It is unknown what became of of William James, but Debie emigrated to Canada aboard the Scandinavian, which departed Liverpool bound for Montreal on November 15, 1920. In the 1921 Guelph City directory, Debie was shown living with her father at 212 Elizabeth Street in Guelph, Ontario.

At some point she must have divorced Collins. On November 25, 1929 Debie married Fred Wells Stanford in Elkhart County, Indiana. Fred was an Industrial Engineer in the auto industry. They are pictured below, ca. 1930.

Debie & Fred Wells Stanford, Ca. 1930, Location Unknown (Source: Tudge/Riley Family)
Debie & Fred Wells Stanford, Ca. 1930, Location Unknown (Source: Tudge/Riley Family)

Debie and Fred's marriage certificate is below, courtesy of ancestry.com. From it we learn that Fred was a widower, his previous wife passing away on October 15, 1926 (but, see below). Interestingly, Debie identified her birth date as October 3, 1900 and her birthplace as Kiln, MS. As well, she stated that this was her first marriage. The wedding band she wore in the top photograph is probably from her marriage to Fred.

Debie Tudge-Collins & Fred Stanford Marriage Certificate, November 25, 1929 (Source: ancestry.com)
Debie Tudge-Collins & Fred Stanford Marriage Certificate, November 25, 1929 (Source: ancestry.com)

Debie probably traveled north to visit her father December 4, 1930 as suggested in the following manifest. She and Fred had been married just over a year. It is not clear if he accompanied her for what appears to be a holiday visit.

November, 1918, Immigration Manifest (Canada?) (Source: Tudge/Riley Family)
November, 1918, Immigration Manifest (Canada?) (Source: Tudge/Riley Family)

The 1930 U.S. Census placed Debie and Fred living by themselves in a duplex at 421 Pennsylvania Avenue, Lansing, MI. They rented their home for $32 per month. Fred's occupation was identified as "Efficiency Engineer" in an "Automobile Factory." The 1930 city directory for Lansing corroborated their address.

Debie rubbed shoulders with some of the well-known female pilots of the day. For example, below is a photograph of (L-R) Debie, Pancho Barnes and Amelia Earhart.

Debie Stanford (L), Pancho Barnes and Amelia Earhart (Source: Tudge/Riley Family)
Debie Stanford (L), Pancho Barnes and Amelia Earhart (Source: Tudge/Riley Family)

This photograph was signed by Debie and the others and dedicated, "To Walt Collinge Best Wishes!" The airplane behind them has a race number, "78," painted on the fuselage. Walt Collinge was a well known, Santa Barbara, CA-based photographer of the the early 1900's. He was more commonly known as J.W. Collinge or J. Walter Collinge. He may have taken the photograph and that is why the ladies signed it for him. He has a good Web presence.

After Debie became a pilot (1929-30?) she operated a flying school in Houston, Texas. Below, from her flight school, is an undated souvenir flight coupon.

Debie Stanford School of Flying, Undated Flight Coupon (Source: Tudge/Riley Family)
Debie Stanford School of Flying, Undated Flight Coupon (Source: Tudge/Riley Family)

 

Debie died in a plane crash on January 5, 1932 in the mountains near Harrisburg, PA. She was a passenger in a plane flown by Register pilot Ruth Stewart.

According to newspapers of the day, Debie, and Ruth planned to fly a white Lockheed Vega (NR7973, left sidebar) from New York City to Buenos Aires in an attempt to break the standing 5.5-day elapsed time record. Ruth held a transport license and had three years of piloting experience, about the same as Debie. She had participated in the 1930 and 1931 Women’s Air Derbies.

Anticipating their Buenos Aires trip, news articles from the first week of January 1932 followed their moves from St. Louis to Pittsburgh, via Terre Haute and Indianapolis, on their way to New York. From Pittsburgh they departed for Harrisburg, PA in foul weather. They flew abreast another airplane flown by a pilot experienced with the Pennsylvania mountains. Yet, their aircraft lost contact with that plane and it, “…disappeared in a cloud bank and was not seen again.”

Fellow Register pilot W.G. (Gentry) Shelton, Jr. was the pilot of the lead airplane that Stanford and Stewart were following when they lost sight of it in the fog. A lengthy article in the Monroe News-Star (LA) for January 7th elaborated on Shelton's role.

The Rome Daily Sentinel (NY), January 8, 1932, below, reported that Fred Stanford went to Harrisburg, PA to accompany Debie's remains back to Camden, NY for her funeral there.

The article states that Fred was in ill-health and intended to stay with his step-mother in Camden while Debie was on her flight. They had moved from Indianapolis the previous October, where Fred worked for General Motors. Upon that move, Fred went to Camden and Debie went to St. Louis to prepare for her flight with Ruth Stewart.

Rome Daily Sentinel (NY), January 8, 1932 (Source: Woodling)
Rome Daily Sentinel (NY), January 8, 1932 (Source: Woodling)

This article corroborates her dates of birth and her marriage to Stanford. As well, it suggested she learned to fly about 1930. A photograph and caption from the same article is below, left. It shows the registration number of their Lockheed Vega, NR7973. The photograph, below, right, shows her as a younger woman.

Debie Stanford, Early 1920s (Source: Tudge/Riley Family)
Debie Stanford, Early 1920s (Source: Tudge/Riley Family)
Rome Daily Sentinel (NY), January 8, 1932 (Source: Woodling)
Rome Daily Sentinel (NY), January 8, 1932 (Source: Woodling)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The headline of The Washington Herald of January 6, 1932 was, “2 Society Women Lost on Plane Hop”. The Evening Star of Washington, DC reported, “Searchers Comb Blue Ridge For 2 Missing Woman Flyers.” Shelton was also part of the search team and made two flights the next day carrying Ruth's father. He said they recognized the crash site by seeing the red coat worn by Ruth. Shelton is logged two years earlier in the Parks Airport Register in April, 1930 flying NC7973.

The plane was found near the rim of Bowers Mountain, about 40 miles west of Harrisburg, in the Tuscarora State Forest 30 miles north of the Pennsylvania border. The Washington Post of Friday, January 8, 1932 quoted a State aviation inspector as saying the plane either had gone into a spin in the thick fog, or had nose-dived into the soft earth at the end of a glide. For additional information about their ill-fated flight, please direct your browser to Ruth Stewart's link, above.

Stanford Family Burial Plot, Camden, NY (Source: Tudge/Riley Family)
Stanford Family Burial Plot, Camden, NY (Source: Tudge/Riley Family)

 

 

Debie was buried at Camden, New York's Forest Park Cemetery in the Stanford family plot. The plot marker is at left. Thanks to the Tudge/Riley Family for making these photographs available to us.

 

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Tipton Daily Tribune (IN), December 17, 1925 (Source: Woodling)
Tipton Daily Tribune (IN), December 17, 1925 (Source: Woodling)

 

More on Fred Wells Stanford: Stanford at age 37 was listed on a U.S. Immigration Form dated October 11, 1927 as arriving at New York City aboard the S.S. Southern Cross from Montevideo, Uruguay. With him were Myrtle Stanford (36) and Eleanor (or Elenore) L. Stanford (15). It is a conundrum that they should be together in 1927, because the Tipton Daily Tribune (IN), December 17, 1925 published the article at right reporting on Myrtle's divorce suit against Stanford. They must have reconciled for her and her daughter to be on their 1927 trip. Regardless, on the Immigration form, Fred's business was recorded as the General Motors Export Corporation, based in New York. His voyage appeared to be a business trip.

Stanford and Myrtle were married February 22, 1913. Eleanor was their daughter. Another conundrum arises if we compare the date of Myrtle's passing cited in Fred and Debie's marriage certificate, exhibited above, with the date of this arrival from Montevideo. They are almost a year apart. Given the other discrepancies in their marriage certificate, we could conjecture that Bessie Diener, who filled out that certificate (q.v.), might have gotten the date wrong. If so, Myrtle Stanford, as Fred's wife, passed away about four days after her return from Montevideo. According to the 1920 Census, Eleanor was their daughter. She would have been 18 at the time of the 1930 Census (see above), and perhaps moved out on her own, thus showing only Fred and Myrtle living together.

The 1940 U.S. Census listed Fred living in Wayne, IN in the Richmond State Hospital. He was 49 years old and widowed. He lived for another 23 years, finally passing away on March 16, 1963, still widowed and still at the Richmond State Hospital. His death certificate is below. He was 72 years old when he died.

Fred Wells Stanford, Death Certificate, March 16, 1963 (Source: ancestry.com)
Fred Wells Stanford, Death Certificate, March 16, 1963 (Source: ancestry.com)

The suite of causes of his death included "C.B.S." - Chronic Brain Syndrome - associated with (probably tertiary) syphilitic meningiocephalitis.

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