Russell T. Gerow was an aerial photographer and aviation
mechanic who lived in Long Beach, CA and worked at the Long
Beach Airport between 1927 and 1933. He worked for Continental
Air Map Company, based in Los Angeles.
Mike Gerow (L) and Your Webmaster, October 2006
To be clear, Russell Gerow was a pilot, but he did not
sign the Davis-Monthan Register. However, he was a photographer
and snapped many aircraft and people on the ground at Long
Beach that DID visit Tucson and are signed in our Register.
Most of his images were taken when the aircraft
and people were at Long Beach Airport. Unfortunately, there
are few dates recorded with the Gerow images, and it is difficult
to determine (except in the case of the "Josephine
Ford") if the photographs were taken near the times the
aircraft and pilots landed at the Davis-Monthan
cannot be made to determine if many of the itineraries through
Long Beach were contiguous with Tucson visits.
Regardless, Mr. Gerow's son, Mike, contacted me during May
2006 to tell me about the images of Davis-Monthan people
and aircraft that he found in his father's collection.
met in San Diego during October 2006 and he allowed me to
scan thirty-eight of his father's images that have special
relevance to our pilots, airplanes and places cited in the
Davis-Monthan Airfield Register. These images are presented
in this Collection.
Before you visit the Collection, please look
below at the unusual facade of the Continental Air Map office
in Los Angeles. Russell Gerow reported here during his career
with Continental. Note the deep bas
on aviation themes, and the sparse portico. Easily visible
in the original image, the text on the banner under the globe
Air Map". The bird bath to the left says that someone
took pride in the garden.
Continental Air Map Office, Los Angeles, ca. 1930
The pride was gone 50 years later when the image below was taken. Alan English of Summit, NJ, son of Continental Air Map founder Walter English, took this photo in 1977, a few years before the property was razed.
Continental Air Map Building, 114 S. Beaudry, Los Angeles, 1977
Photo contributor Mike Gerow says of the image, "Walter English, [was] founder of Continental Air Map Co. and the designer of this building at 114 S. Beaudry, Los Angeles. As you can see, the steps are festooned with graffiti and the property is overgrown with shrubbery. The tall tree at left may be one of the small shrubs in the 1930 photo. All in all, a sad shadow of its former glory. After Walter’s death in 1976, this building passed through the hands of several owners, each more derelict than the one before. In the early 1980s it was razed and a self-parking lot now occupies the spot."
Russell Gerow worked out of this hangar, below, at the Long
Beach Airport. The tank superstructure behind the hangar
is visible at the far right of the aerial image here,
which would place this hangar somewhere in the row of buildings
just right in center of that image.
As an interesting side point, some background on the
product logos each side of the company sign can be found here.
Mike Gerow says this about the logos: "The emblem on the
right is for Zerolene motor oil and the emblem on the left
is for Red Crown gasoline (used by Lindy on his NYP flight),
both Socal products."
And further, "Dick Kerr [image in the 'Russell T. Gerow' section of
the Collection], a partner in Continental Air Map from 1928
to 1936, was a graduate geologist who had worked
earlier for Clark Gester, Socal's chief geologist. It was
Gester who contacted Kerr for a proposal for the Arabian
deal, which Continental secured in late 1933. Could be Kerr's
association with Socal over the years dictated his preference
in petroleum products for his aviation business."
Continental Air Map Hangar, Long Beach Airport,
Douglas M-4 inside ca. 1930-32
The Douglas M-4 lurking inside the hangar, above, is not a Register airplane (NC1475). However, it is still with us and it is relevant to this Collection. Below is an image of it taken during April 1976. Our Collection's namesake photographer, Russell T. Gerow, stands in the foreground. The event was the 50th anniversary celebration of Western Air Lines (now absorbed to oblivion by various mergers).
Douglas NC1475, April 17, 1976
Mike Gerow says, "I remember my dad commenting on the plane after this event, remarking that they removed the brakes he had installed and restored it as an M-2 (reregistered C150), not an M-4...." Further, Mike states, "This aircraft was ground-looped during taxi tests the day before the big display. They scrambled to clean it up for static display on the 17th, which they just managed to do. As a side note, the plane's former Continental Air Map owner, Walter English, died in Los Angeles almost exactly one month earlier, on March 16, 1976 in the 86th year of his age." Photographer Gerow was 78 when this photo was taken. You can learn more about this airplane, the Gerow Collection, and other Collections on dmairfield.org from this article available in the REFERENCES.
Enjoy now the Russell T. Gerow Photograph Collection.
The Collection contains 42 images (two of which you see above).
I have divided them into reasonable categories to make the
Collection easier to implement online, and to make it easier
for site visitors to work through them.
Unless otherwise noted, the
images were scanned at 200dpi. Please note also: other than
cropping, sizing and optimizing the images for web display,
they are unretouched in any way. We should all be grateful
to Mike Gerow for allowing us to visit with his father's
images taken mostly during the key years of the Golden Age
Click the section heading:
RUSSELL T. GEROW This
section exhibits twelve images with R.T. Gerow in them, two images of a shop manual and
two images of his mechanic's license. Texts by his son, Mike
Gerow. Thanks, Mike!
PEOPLE This section exhibits four images of people (and
an airplane!) that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield.
AIRPLANES This section
exhibits thirteen images of aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan
Airfield, and two images comprised of five snapshots and
data about 1933 National Air Races aircraft.
PLACES This section exhibits
three aerial images of the Long Beach and Fresno Airports,
and two images of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington.
UPLOADED: 11/16/06 REVISED: 11/21/06, 11/28/06, 02/09/08, 12/09/08, 01/03/09, 03/20/09, 07/20/11