Col. C.B. Cosgrove, Jr.

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Image Grouping ID: John M. Miller

What can be said of a pilot of John Miller's stature in the aviation community? He was an accomplished engineer, military pilot, barnstormer, record-setter, air transport pilot and test pilot. They just don't come more "Renaissance".

Not only that, but of all the Davis-Monthan Register pilots, John is one of three that I know of who are alive as of the upload date at the bottom of this page (the others are Robert N. Buck and William T. Piper, Jr).

The five images that follow were taken by Burt Cosgrove, Jr. at Tucson in 1931 during John's record-setting trans-continental flight with his autogiro. See John's link, above, for details. His flight from Poughkeepsie, NY to San Diego, CA was the first time an autogiro had been flown coast-to-coast. The record he set in 1931 was only bested in October 2003!

It is not certain, either from comments on the backs of the images (there were none), or from the recollections of C.B. Cosgrove, III, whether the pictures were taken on May 28th when John was westbound on his trip, or on June 21st when he was returning eastbound.

BUT, a little detective work let's us date the images during his westbound leg on May 28th. The reasoning is, in the image below, we see behind John and his autogiro a Loening amphibian (note the outboard pontoon on the left wing, and the three-bladed prop). In all likelihood the Loening is NC9772, which is cited in the Register right next to John, having landed just an hour earlier that morning. What a thrill for the lucky bystanders on this late spring morning to have these two unusual aircraft land simultaneously! And what luck for us to be able to date the images.

John Miller & PCA-2 Autogiro
J. Miller & PCA-2 Autogiro

Additional information on John's autogiro, NC10781, is available on this site. The image below shows warmup or taxi operation with rotor stationary. It shows the registration number to advantage on the rudder.

Just imagine Burt Cosgrove with his Leica framing and taking these shots during these moments in the life of the early Davis-Monthan Airfield! Could he have sensed that John's trans-continental record would stand for the next 72 years?

J. Miller & PCA-2 Autogiro
J. Miller & Autogiro

Image, below, in all its verticality, shows early departure taxi with rotors turning and Tucson mountains in the background.

John Miller & PCA-2 Autogiro
J. Miller & Autogiro

Image below, aircraft turned around and ready to take off for San Diego.

J. Miller & Autogiro Departing Tucson, 1931
J. Miller & Autogiro

Below, the obligatory Golden Age aviator's pose on the wing near the aft cockpit. Helmet flaps upturned; button-up leather jacket; necktie askew; striped (silk) socks; suitcase ready to be stowed in open baggage compartment. In a conversation I had with John, he mentioned a bad sunburn he got on his face during this flight. We can see in this image the edges of that burn defined by where his goggles fit over his eyes. SPF products were still 50 years away!

John M. Miller, Tucson, AZ, May 28, 1931
John M. Miller

Note the engine takeoff driveshaft and gearing that spools up the rotor just near his left ear. Note also the cable bracing geometry for the rotor blades. The rotors are fabric covered, and we can see a few dings in the leading edge surface of the blade facing us.



The Register

To use the photographs of The Cornelius Burton Cosgrove, Jr. Collection for any purpose, please contact their owner:

C.B. Cosgrove, III at 5555 Zuni Rd., SE, Suite 206, Albuquerque, NM 87106

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