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This information comes from the listings of Non-Prefixed and Non-Suffixed aircraft reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC.

* Not, as far as I can determine, related to THE George Eastman of Kodak fame. Regardless, in what has to be a tragic irony, this last film Eastman worked on, “Such Men Are Dangerous” 1930 – USA, is described at the NY Times movie website as:

“PLOT DESCRIPTION: In this drama an unattractive, dour German businessman leaps out of a flying plane after learning that his wife only married him for his fortune. It appears that he has died, but in reality he has traveled to the Alps where he has his face surgically reconstructed….”

Wynn, H. Hugh. 1987. The Motion Picture Stunt Pilots and Hollywood's Classic Aviation Movies. Pictorial Histories Publishing House. Missoula, MT. 184 pp.

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Registration Number 8420


This aircraft is a Stinson SM-1F Detroiter, manufacturer’s serial number 504. It was manufactured in March 1929 by Stinson Aircraft Corporation, Northville, MI. It came from the factory with a 300 HP Wright J-6 (R-975A) engine, S/N 10257. The airplane weighed 4,300 pounds (six-place).

Tanner Livery Ad

It was sold 3/28/29 for $12,500 to Tanner Motor Livery of Los Angeles, CA (C.C. Tanner, President; Charles Towns, Chief Pilot and delivery pilot). Advertisement, right, from a period magazine.

It comes to Tucson on 4/7/1929 piloted by Charles V. Towns carrying two unidentified passengers. They were westbound from Detroit, MI to Los Angeles, CA. This was probably the ferry flight from the factory of this brand new airplane.

Less than a year later, on January 2, 1930 this airplane collided with another Stinson Detroiter (registration number not recorded) at Rocky Point, CA. The planes collided in the air while taking motion pictures. Apparently sun glare blinded the pilots. The pilot of 8420, Hallock Roose (transport license #402), the pilot of the other Stinson, Walter Ross Cook, Santa Monica, CA, and all passengers were killed.

Passengers in both aircraft were listed in the NASM record, and included: Max Gold, Conrad Wells (cinematographer, 1927-30), Ben Frankel, Kenneth Hawks (a director; married Mary Astor in 1928; was supervising the shot at time of crash; he was 32 years old), George Eastman (cinematographer, see*, left), Otto Jordon, Hank Johannes and Tom Harris. The official report states tersely, “…collision in air. Lost in ocean off Pt. Vicente.” The registration was cancelled 2/14/30.


From Wynn's book cited at bottom left, this passage captures that horrific event (pp.94-95):

"The scene plan called for three airplanes, one with a parachute jumper and two with cameras, to take off from Clover Field and rendezvous three miles at sea of Point San Vicente. At that point the camera planes would spread apart while the plane with the jumper flew between them. When the jumper bailed out, the cameras would record the jump and descent from different angles. A speed boat cruised in the sea below, with another camera aboard to record the jump from sea level, and to pick up the jumper after he descended into the water.

"The three airplanes took off just before 4:00PM as the winter sun was approaching the horizon, In the lead was a Lockheed high-wing monoplane painted bright orange to contrast with the blue sky and sea in order to show up clearly on the black and white film. In addition to pilot Roscoe Turner, the Lockheed carried Jacob Tribdwasser, the parachute jumper, Fred White, a representative from the parachute company and Fred Osborne.  The other two planes were identical Stinson “Detroiters,” leased from Tanner Air Tours, and flown by Ross Cooke and Halleck Rouse.  Kenneth Hawks, who was acting as director and was brother of Howard Hawks and husband of actress Mary Astor, flew in one plane.  Max Gold, the assistant director on the film, rode in the other Stinson.  Cameraman George Eastman, assistant cameraman Ben Frankel, and prop man Tom Harris, rode in one of the Stinsons, while the other cameraman, Conrad Wells, his assistant Otto Jordan, and prop man Harry Johannes rode in the other Tanner airplane.  Newspaper accounts don’t say which group rode with which pilot, but each camera planed carried five men, and the doors were removed to give the camera men more freedom of action.

“When they reached the rendezvous point, Turner, in the faster airplane, was ahead while the two camera planes, cruising one above the other, headed directly into the brilliant sun….

“Perhaps the sun affected the vision of one or both of the pilots.  The higher airplane banked slightly to the right, and the one below suddenly swerved upward and to the left.  They were about 3,000 feet high when their wing tips touched, drew apart and then touched again.  When the second contact was made, one plane pivoted on its wing tip and collided with the other, almost nose to nose.  A burst of flame suddenly consumed both Stinsons as two twisting bodies fell or jumped from the fireball.  Then men were already dead as the two burning airplanes struck the water and sank in forty fathoms of the sea.”

UPLOADED: 07/28/05 REVISED: 04/02/06

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I'm looking for photographs of this airplane, and any of the others that are a part of this story, to include on this page. If you have one or more you'd like to share, please use this FORM to contact me.
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