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
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
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
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
Image, below, in all its verticality, shows early departure
taxi with rotors turning and Tucson mountains in the background.
John Miller & PCA-2 Autogiro
Image below, aircraft turned around and ready to take off
for San Diego.
J. Miller & Autogiro Departing Tucson,
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
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.
UPLOADED: 01/08/07 REVISED: