This airplane is a Fairchild model 42, S/N 4 manufactured in 1929. It landed at Tucson 78 years ago as of the upload date of this page, on Tuesday September 30, 1930. It was flown by Carl P. Johnston. He carried three passengers, C.A. DeGrace, H. Shangle and C. Reyes. Based at Portland, OR, they arrived at Tucson from Los Mochis, Mexico, headed for Douglas, AZ.
NC106M is still registered with the FAA and it flew for the first time after a complete restoration during July 2008 in Alaska (it's actually been rebuilt a couple of times). A set of photographs of the airplane during restoration of the airframe is here (this link was inop as of 10/25/16; leaving it operational in case it comes back). This great series of over 100 images documents the restoration process from a derelict airframe standing outside in the weather, to bare metal tube to interior installation, to fabric covering, to paint, to engine installation. The "before" image is below (with permission).
Fairchild NC106M, Before Restoration
One splendid image of the finished airplane at the link above shows it standing in an autumn field with cloud-mantled Alaska mountains in the background (with permission).
Fairchild NC106M, Alaska, After Its Restoration in 1998
We are fortunate, too, to have the following five videos of NC106M, referred to us by a site visitor. These videos were taken after the 2008 restoration and are supplemented by wry titles. You'll enjoy seeing a Register airplane doing what it does best.
This video (1 minute) is a walk around the airplane before the engine is started. The registration number is well-exhibited.
This video (9 minutes) shows first engine start/runup and taxi tests before first flight. You'll notice the prop seems to stand still or reverse rotation. This is due to the video frame rate. A 'strobe' effect results when the propeller rotates.
This video (4 minutes) shows the first post-restoration flight of NC106M on July 21, 2008. Study this video closely, because this is pretty much how the airplane looked and sounded in the air and on the ground as it visited Tucson so long ago.
This video (5 minutes) shows 106M taking off and in cruise flight. The views and noise levels are what pilot Johnston and his passengers experienced during the Golden Age.
This video (5 minutes) shows 106M transitioning from cruise flight to a landing. It's great to have these videos to give us a sense of how this airplane lived and breathed. Configured as a five-passenger plus pilot airplane, NC106M now carries tourists in Alaska (there are six people flying in the video). It can operate on skis as well.
NC106M also appeared in the 1937 movie, "Hollywood Roundup" starring Buck Jones and Helen Twelvetrees. The airplane was used for a getaway after a bank robbery. Thanks to a site visitor for pointing this out.
You can read a technography and see an image of sister ship NC81M on this site. You may see another sister ship, NC146H, on aerofiles. Notice the difference in the geometry of the rear windows on 146H compared to NC106M. The rounded back windows on 106M were added during the restoration.
UPLOADED: 12/21/08 REVISED: 07/17/09, 10/25/16