Here is a puzzle. This airplane was flown to Tucson Thursday,September 6, 1928 at 8:45 AM. It was identified very clearly in the Register by pilot Freddie Lund as registration number 7583. Yet, he listed it as a Waco. He carried a single passenger identified as R.E. Lees. Based in Troy, OH, they were westbound from El Paso, TX to Los Angeles, CA. Robert E. Lees, was the Sales
Manager for Waco.
There is no known Waco registration number 7583. According to all current records, this airplane is, indeed, a Ford trimotor. According to aerofiles.com, it is a model 4-AT-B, S/N 37 (later converted to a D model). It was manufactured in 1928 under ATC 2-322 as a special long-wing model with three 220hp Wright J-5 engines; wingspan: 78'0". It cost $48,000 new. It flew in the U.S. and was sold into Costa Rica in the 1940s as registration number TI61 or TI64.
Site visitor Frank Lowman corroborates the identity with this image of 7583, below, that he discovered among his father's effects. He says, "My father took a picture of a Ford Tri Motor 7583 at Byrd Flying Field in Richmond, VA before 1929. On the fuselage is written: 'THIS SHIP USES GULF-NO-NOX MOTOR FUEL AND GULFPRIDE LUBRICANTS.' Also: 'FLY UNDER THE AUSPICIES OF YOUR FORD DEALER.'"
Ford 4-AT-B 7583, Byrd Field, Richmond, VA, Before 1929
Just in front of the word FLY is additional text, which, readable on the original image, lists, "Lima O, Marion O, Columbus O, Akron O, Washington, D.C." In front of the list, also written on the side is, "Passengers Carried To Date 3284".
Why would a gifted and knowlegeable pilot like Freddie Lund misidentify this airplane? Besides just mis-writing a number, a clue may be in the list of Ohio cities. Lund was the test pilot for Waco Aircraft, based in Troy, OH. He may have flown the Ford west with passenger Lees on Waco business. Or, they may have been traveling west to participate in the 1928 National Air Races held at Los Angeles, September 8-16 that year. We find him returning eastbound two weeks later on Wednesday, September 19, 1928 flying solo in an unidentified Ryan B-1 Brougham. If anyone can supply information about these flights and the airplane puzzle, please let me KNOW.
UPLOADED: 03/22/08 REVISED: