Aerobatics!

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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. Or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-0-1.

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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. Or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-2-5.

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This image comes to us courtesy of the Klein Archive of Aviation Photographs available for view on this website.

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This link takes you to the "Flight of the 'Question Mark'" on the official U.S. Air Force Web site.

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"The Flight of the ?" 1929. Popular Mechanics Magazine. 51:3. 353-356.

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This link gets you an article from the March 2003 Air Force Magazine (PDF 367KB) that summarizes the details of the endurance flight of the "Question Mark", its personnel and outcomes.

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Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register
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FOKKER C-2 TRANSPORT 28-120

THE "QUESTION MARK"

Fokker C-2 Transport 28-120, The "Question Mark" (Source: Klein)
Fokker C-2 28-120

At right, Fokker C-2 Transport 28-120, named the "Question Mark", landed twice at Tucson, first on December 21, 1928 at 1:45PM. The pilot was Ira C. Eaker, and he and his crew were westbound from Midland, TX to San Diego, CA to embark on what was to become the first military air-to-air refueling record.

28-120 came to Tucson the second time on January 21, 1929. The pilot this time was Carl Spatz. Spatz and his crew remained overnight at Tucson, departing at 7:00 next morning. The location of this image at right is unknown, but see this link for an image of Spatz and the "Question Mark" on the ground at Tucson on January 21st.

You might note, if you go to the Register page (74-75) that Eaker signed the registration number for this airplane as "28-160". This was an error on his part, as the airplane is 28-120. Earlier in the Register, in August, 1928, 28-160 was signed in as a Douglas O-2H.

"Question Mark" is a famous aircraft, because it set an early Army refueled endurance record between January 1-7, 1929; a total of 150 hours and 40 minutes. Refer to the link to Spatz' page above for an overview of the flight and just what kinds of preparations went into the endurance flight. The details are withering!

Below are three photographs of the "Question Mark" from the San Diego Aerospace Museum (SDAM). The first is an official Army photo taken in flight on October 13, 1929 at 10:05AM, about nine months after it passed through Tucson to and from its historic flight.

Fokker C-2, 28-120, Location Unknown, October 23, 1929 (Source: SDAM)
Fokker C-2, 28-120, Location Unknown, October 23, 1929 (Source: SDAM)

The second is an official Army photo from the third day of its historic flight, January 4, 1929 at 1:00PM. It is being refueled by #1 of the two aircraft assigned as refuelers over Burbank, CA. Although the refueling hose is barely visible in the original, adjusting contrast with PhotoShop shows that it is there and the aircraft are connected. Can anyone identify any landmarks with Google Earth and SEND ME an image?

Fokker C-2, 28-120, California, January 4, 1929 (Source: SDAM)
Fokker C-2, 28-120, California, January 4, 1929 (Source: SDAM)

Below, the "Question Mark" is refueled on the last day of its record flight over the Imperial Valley, January 7, 1929. Note the fuel line between the airplanes and the crew member wrestling with the nozzle. A two-minute video of the "Question Mark" during its flight is available at the link. All the crew members are shown briefly toward the end of the clip.

Fokker C-2, 28-120, California, January 7, 1929 (Source: SDAM)
Fokker C-2, 28-120, California, January 7, 1929 (Source: SDAM)

Although it is not clear from the Register, Spatz is identified here as pilot for the second landing at Tucson, as he was listed first. Spatz was the official pilot and Eaker was the official co-pilot during the endurance run. As well as Maj. Carl Spatz, Capt. Ira Eaker, Sgt. Roy Hooe, and Lt. E.R. Quesada, Mr. H.J. Adamson and Capt. Ross Hoyt are listed in the Pilot field in the Register. You can see Hoyt in the photograph above as the pilot of refueling plane #1.

Below, from the SDAM, the final crew of the "Question Mark." They are, L-R, Hooe, Quesada, Halverson, Eaker and Spatz. This photograph was taken either before or after the flight, since all are cleaned up and shaved. Note the "?" to Spatz' left.

Crew of the Question Mark," January, 1929, (L-R) Hooe, Quesada, Halverson, Eaker & Spatz (Source: SDAM)
Crew of the Question Mark," January, 1929, (L-R) Hooe, Quesada, Halverson, Eaker & Spatz (Source: SDAM)

Someone wrote "Question Mark" in the Passenger field of the Register. The name of the airplane was based on how long the crew thought they would remain aloft: they didn't really know.

Interestingly, the Army endurance flight coincided with an endurance record set by Bobbi Trout. Their airplanes were in the air at the same time and in the same vicinity. Spatz dropped a note of encouragement from the "Question Mark" that was shared with Trout.

The "Question Mark", Spatz and Eaker enjoy good Web coverage (see some examples in the left sidebar).

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 09/30/07 REVISED: 03/24/08, 03/05/09, 06/29/09, 03/11/10, 06/21/11, 02/17/13

 
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http://www.cafepress.com/content/global/img/spacer.gifThe Congress of Ghosts 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, or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author.  ISBN 978-0-9843074-4-9.

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