LOCKHEED VEGA Model 5B NC107W
TOUCHED A WINGTIP TO THE GROUND
This airplane is a Lockheed Vega Model 5B (S/N 124; ATC
#227) manufactured during April 1930 by Lockheed Aircraft
CA. It left the factory with
a Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine (S/N 3160) of unspecified
We find NC107W at Tucson twice, fairly early in its life. On July
23, 1930, it was flown by Russell A. Young carrying
three passengers identified only as Mill, Rispin and Barnhart. They
were eastbound from Burbank, CA to Ft. Worth, TX.
NC107W was sold during 1931 to W.T. Ponder, a Lockheed distributor
based in Dallas, TX. We find 107W recorded in the flight log book of Register pilot R.W. Henderson. Although Henderson did not fly the airplane to Tucson, he did ferry it from Ponder's base in Dallas back to the Lockheed factory in Burbank. Pilot Henderson picked up 107W at Ft. Worth, TX on August 15, 1930 and flew it to Burbank via El Paso, TX, Phoenix, AZ and Glendale, CA. Below, a few lines from Henderson's log documenting the ferry. Henderson's log books can be viewed in their entirety at his Web page linked above. These entries in his log precede his visit at Tucson by about a week.
R.W. Henderson Log Book, August, 1930 (Source: Careaga)
The second visit at Tucson by NC108W was on Saturday, August 23, 1930. It was flown by Robert S. Lee carrying one unidentified passenger. Lee cited his destination as Ft. Worth, TX. He had departed from Clover Field, Santa Monica, CA the day before. We know this, because Lee's name is signed on page 16 in the Clover Field Register. Lee also cites W.T. Ponder as the owner of the airplane. The date of Ponder's alleged purchase of the airplane stated in the NASM record (1931) conflicts with the dates of Lee's landings at Tucson and Santa Monica. I have no explanation for the discrepancy.
According to the NASM record, Ponder sold NC107W in 1931 to
Bowen Air Lines, Fort Worth where it was flown on Bowen
routes between 1931 and 1936. It was converted by Bowen
to a Vega 5C under ATC 384 as of April 22, 1935.
On October 26, 1937 Bowen sold it to Gordon S. Barry, president
of Lineas Aereas Mineras, S.A. (LAMSA) Mazatlan, Mexico. LAMSA
bought the airplane for $5,000 with P&W Wasp C engine
S/N 2909. It was imported into Mexico via El Paso,
TX on October 30th and received Mexican registration XA-BFR
on January 20, 1938. It was painted red (fuselage)
with ivory wings and flew on LAMSA routes in Mexico. Below is an image of XA-BFR shared with us by Tim Kalina.
Lockheed NC107W in Mexican Registry, XA-BFR
Mr. Kalina makes a good point that contrasts the paint scheme given on the NASM record with the paint scheme in this photo, which suggests a light fuselage, not red. He states, "... as you can plainly see from this photo, the colors are different (cream with red trim?)." There was no annotation on the back that suggested when or where it was taken. The people are unidentified.
XA-BFR suffered an accident at the Mexico City Airport on
May 5, 1938. It was on an unauthorized local flight
with LAMSA traffic representatives. It stalled on takeoff
from a taxiway, touched a wingtip to the ground and crashed. Pilot
Miguel Angel Padilla was killed. Passengers Carlos
Robles Martinez, Alfonso Pereda, Dorothy Mass Pereda, Cosuelo
Carillo and Manuel Carillo were injured.
Site visitor Mauricio Padilla clarifies the circumstances around the accident as follows, "The information about the crash of this aircraft states that it was taking off from a taxiway when the plane stalled. Back on 1938, in the México City Airport, there was a runway with a magnetic orientation of roughly 100 degrees which later, with the new airport configuration, was assigned as a taxiway (alpha taxiway). The Captain Miguel Angel Padilla was the brother of my grandfather. My father, a retired AeroMéxico Captain, told me about this unfortunate accident. I am an AeroMéxico Boeing 777 first officer and I found this web page trying to gather some information about this accident."
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 06/0/06 REVISED: 02/19/09, 10/08/09, 10/18/11, 05/15/12, 03/05/13