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OTHER RESOURCES

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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Other motion picture films on this site may be viewed here.

CREDITS

This rare film clip of NC126M comes to us courtesy of the Parker Family Archives.

The cameraman was Kenneth Parker, grandfather of the visitor to the site who offered this footage to us. The airplane was "discovered" as original, 16mm films were transcribed to videotape. He provides also this vignette about his grandfather.

"Kenneth Parker (b. 1895; d. 1979) was the son of George S. Parker, the founder of the Parker Pen Company. Kenneth dropped out of Brown University in 1917 to join the U.S. Naval Reserves and learn how to fly. After ground school at MIT, actual flight training took place in Miami and Pensacola. His passion for flying [including this unique film footage] followed him throughout his life.

"In 1928 he initiated an advertising program for The Parker Pen Company that used a bright orange Fairchild FC-2W2 called the Parker Duofold*; it was christened by Amelia Earhart. In addition to a Verville Sportsman AT and a Stinson Junior S which he personally owned, Parker Pen owned several planes over the next 40 years, from Beech 18s to DC-3s to a Lockheed Vega Ventura, and an On-Mark/Douglas A-26.

"Kenneth Parker, who became president of the business in 1933, designed and developed the Parker 51 fountain pen [the one with the hooded nib; designed to commemorate the 51st year of the Parker Pen business], which, among many firsts, was the first fountain pen engineered for use in airplanes. At his direction Parker Pen UK donated a Spitfire Mark Vb to the RAF in 1941 as part of their war-time Presentation Programme."

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From the Parker Pen website: "The original Parker Duofold Pen debuted in the Roaring Twenties. "It became an instant classic and has influenced manufacturers and designers throughout the world to this day. It used all the design improvements introduced since the start of the century, the most important of which were: mechanical filling (1904), improved "spear" feeds (1905 and 1911), screw-on caps (1912) and the washer clip (1916). These features were part of the existing Jack-Knife range, but when combined with the colored pen with which company founder, George Safford Parker, had first experimented in 1904, the result was spectacular."

The still image of NC126M on this page are used with permission from the archives of the San Diego Aerospace Museum

See the Museum’s ARCHIVES listings online to understand the scope of their holdings, and the procedures for acquiring prints.

Image of the registration record for NC126M, right, from the archives of the National Air & Space Museum.

Two-page Parker Pen advertisement from the Saturday Evening Post, September 7, 1929.

This link gets you a brief article on the Fairchild "Parker Duofold".

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FOKKER SUPER UNIVERSAL NC126M

45-SECOND VIDEO CLIP OF THE AIRCRAFT IN FLIGHT AND DURING GROUND MANEUVERS

It is very rare when you can find a motion picture of one of the aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield. In this film we can see clearly how the airplane moved in the air and how it behaved when taxied. For a brief second, as it sits in profile and the camera pans through, we can see that it has a "US MAIL" marking on the vertical stabilizer, the registration number and a few other numbers, including 218, and what looks like AM 12 and AM 33.

As it moves, we see the paint finish gleam in the sun. We see a few bystanders keeping their distance. We see the people involved with loading the aircraft, probably with a bundle of mail. We see the location of the cargo door. We see the good-humored, uniformed pilot in command. There is a general spirit of relaxed urgency in the footage that gives us a feeling of how it must have been to greet a Golden Age airliner. The shiny automobile is a model A Ford. Site visitor Lt. Col. Alan Thomas says, "In the Fokker clip, the car is a model A Ford.  Cannot see the body type but the headlights and engine cover are dead give-aways.  I owned one in high school days.  It cost me $35 dollars down and five a month til paid."

How did we come by this footage? The sharp eye of one site visitor noted the registration number of this airplane caught on film by his grandfather over 75 years ago. It appeared on old family 16-mm movies which were in the process of being transferred to videotape. He "Googled" the registration number, and came up with this website. In fact, as of the upload date of this page, this website is the ONLY hit you'll get if you Google "NC126M".

What we know about the airplane is limited so far to the records of aircraft registrations maintained at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC (see the image of typical NASM aircraft registration information at the end of this page). It is clear that NC126M was manufactured in September 1929 by the Fokker Aircraft Corporation of America (S/N 865; ATC 52), based at Teterboro Airport in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ.

NC126M came from the factory with a Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine (S/N 1391) of 410HP. It was certified as a seven- place airplane, weighing 5,150 pounds. It sold on October 7, 1929 to Aero Corporation of California, Inc., a brokerage and air transport company operated by Jack Frye. The airplane had been under contract to Aero for this sale since July 22, 1929.

Now the Market Crash of October 1929 occurred, and Aero sold the airplane to Mid Continent Air Express, Inc. of Los Angeles a few months later on April 20, 1930. Mid Continent flew it for two years. It sold again on April 16, 1932 to Western Air Express, Inc. of United Airport, Burbank, CA. Western Air Express operated it for another two years. There were no monetary values given for these sales. Likewise, although it is common among the NASM documentation of many other aircraft, there is no record that NC126M ever suffered any accidents, or underwent engine changes or repairs.

So when was this footage taken by Mr. Parker? If you look closely at the film, you'll notice NC126M was in the distinctive Western Air Express livery when it was filmed by Mr. Parker. Therefore, he probably filmed it sometime during the two-year period between April 16, 1932 when Western Air bought it, and June 25, 1934 when it was again sold to a private owner, G.J. Atwater of Phoenix, AZ.

All totaled, NC126M led a fairly "clean" life for a transport aircraft of the era. It had only four owners, and there were no recorded accidents or repairs (although it probably did have some; they just weren't recorded). There is no record of total flight hours.

The airplane was about six-years old when it landed at Tucson on March 9, 1935. It was piloted to the Davis-Monthan Airfield by C.E. Powell. He carried two passengers, identified simply as Middleton and Williams. Based in Los Angeles, they arrived at Tucson from Phoenix and their destination was El Paso, TX. Soon the airplane would be in Mexico, never to be seen again in the U.S.

According to the records from the National Air and Space Museum (paperwork for NC126M, below), on June 18, 1935 the owner advised the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Authority (precursor of the FAA) that the airplane was sent to Mexico to be used on an airline based at Chihuahua. The owner requested cancellation of its U.S. license so that a Mexican license could be issued. That's all that is known about the final disposition of this beautiful, workhorse airplane.

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One last note. According to the film archivist at the National Air & Space Museum, this film is a rare animal indeed. Although there are, in the National Archives and other databases that we checked, references to moving pictures of Fokker Universals and Super Universals, you can count their numbers on one hand. Most examples are news films; none are of the "amateur photography" type.

You better go back up to the top of this page and enjoy the film clip again; you are seeing one of the very few examples in the world of this aircraft type in action, and perhaps the only one filmed on 16mm by an amateur photographer.

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Another last note. Below is an image from the San Diego Aerospace Museum (reference in left sidebar). Although the date ot this image is unknown, it is probably between 1932 and 1935 while it was flying for Western Air Express. Note the WAE livery.

NC126M Aloft, Date Unknown

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And another last note. The images below are from the Saturday Evening Post of September 7, 1929. They depict a double-wide magazine advertisement for Parker Duofold Pens. Note the aviation connection featuring Michigan's "Lady Lindy" Bertha Flo standing in front of an Arrow Sport. This advertising could be the influence of Kenneth Parker, who, in 1928, developed an advertising program for the company that was based on aviation.

Parker Pen Advertisement, September 1929

The facing page, below, features a fountain pen as a productivity tool, saving motion and time by not having to dip!

Parker Pen Advertisement, September 1929

Interestingly, the month this magazine ad appeared is the same month that NC126M was manufactured (September 1929).

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As happens sometimes, I get special chances to meet with the people who contact me through dmairfield.org. One occasion was August 10, 2009 when I met Geoff Parker who contributed the great film footage of NC126M. Below, your Webmaster (L) with Geoff. I hold a vintage Parker Duofold fountain pen from Geoff's collection (like the orange one in the advertisement above).

Your Webmaster (L) With Geoffrey Parker, August 10, 2010 (Source: Webmaster)
Your Webmaster (L) With Geoffrey Parker, August 10, 2010 (Source: Webmaster)

NC126M also landed once and is recorded in the Peterson Field Register. It was flown by Hadley F. Hershey.

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 10/19/05 REVISED: 12/22/05, 03/23/06, 04/20/06, 06/15/06, 04/04/07, 1/9/08, 12/07/10

07/18/14 This page is Google rank #1.

 
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HOW TO OPERATE THE FILM VIEWER

Pass your cursor over the bar at the bottom of the image to invoke the video controls. Click the buttons.

As you might expect, this is a silent film.

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TECHNICAL POINT

This video was tested with a late version of Internet Explorer and Macromedia Flash Player 7.0. If you have trouble viewing it, please check your software versions.

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QUESTIONS FOR YOU

Does anyone recognize the airport? If you have a good monitor you can make out writing on the wall of the hangar. Something like:

"????OMDOR HOTEL"

COMMODORE HOTEL? Does anyone KNOW the location of the Commodore, or recognize any of the people (note the pilot in uniform and the man in the white shirt)?

How about the man and young boy visible just briefly in the background? Or the man on crutches?

Please let me know via this FORM.

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SOME COMMENTS ABOUT THE FILM

There appears to be no evidence of passengers being carried. Briefly during taxi you can see clear through the windows and out the other side of the airplane. No heads are visible in the windows. No people were getting out of the airplane to stretch their legs and be on their way. Likewise, upon departure it didn't take very long to get airborne once the tail lifted off, indicating a light load.

The taxiway and ramp were "unimproved", showing clumps of grass and stones.

The visit must have been a fast turnaround, since the propeller continued to turn while what looked like some documents or mail were loaded on board.

And what about those staff ID badges, security checkpoints, drug-sniffing dogs, metal detectors and chain link fences?

 
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