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Images and information about this airplane come from your webmaster's research trips to Pennsylvania and the aircraft restoration workshop of Ranley Nelson.

Download this PDF file for an overview of several Davis-Monthan aircraft flown by female pilots.

 
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NC14415

BEECH B-17-L STAGGERWING

This airplane landed twice at Tucson. First on January 25, 1936 flown by Nancy Harkness Love, and the second time on January 28, 1936 piloted by Robert M. Love. Image, below, of the big Staggerwing during reconstruction, November 2002. Ranley Nelson (R), and your Webmaster.

NC14415 During Restoration, 2002
NC14415 During Restoration, 2002

The airplane, S/N 28, was manufactured on March 30, 1935, with a 225 HP Jacobs L4 turning a wooden, two-blade Hartzell propeller.  On March 31, 1935, it sold to Inter City Airlines, Inc. of Boston, MA, operated by Robert Love.  Robert special-ordered it in Berryloid Diana Cream and Stearman Vermillion Red. Pilot  Tom Colby, the owner of Berry Brothers, the maker of Berryloid paints, was a Register signer.

The Loves owned the Staggerwing for 28 months, during which their post-nuptial flight took place.  After their stewardship, it changed hands eleven times.  It spent most of its life in the west before settling with its current owner Ranley Nelson (left sidebar).

Original Wing Structure of NC14415
Original Wing Structure of NC14415

Image, above, shows the original wing of NC14415. Parts of the elevators and ailerons can also be seen. Nelson rebuilt the entire wing and flight control system, rather than reuse the 1935 structures. Interestingly you can see remnants of the Stearman Vermillion Red on some of the fittings. The old, stripped cotton fabric showed Diana Cream as well as the Vermillion.

NC14415 Original Interior Fabric Samples From Mr. Nelson's Collection
NC14415 Original Interior Fabric Samples

Image, left, of original upholstery samples used in the new interior of NC14415: black and red leather and beige wool. When new, this airplane must have been strikingly beautiful. Nelson plans to make it that way again.

Much is written about Nancy Harkness Love (not so much about Robert).  Most significantly, in WWII, she served as executive director on the Ferrying Division staff.  In war service, she was the first woman to check out in the P-51.  She was the first woman to fly the B-25.  All totaled, she was proficient in eighteen types of military aircraft.  She was an aviation industry leader for many years, and championed the recognition of WASPs as military veterans.  They gained recognition in 1977, shortly after Nancy’s death in Florida on October 22, 1976.

Robert and Nancy's Staggerwing is under restoration at Ranley Nelson’s shop, Airplane Makeovers, at the Butler Farm Show Airport in Butler, PA.  Fuselage and control surfaces are now in fabric, and, given its place among other restoration projects in his shop, Mr. Nelson says it should be flying, “in a couple of years.”          

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UPLOADED: 06/06/07 REVISED: 02/11/08

 
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This airplane is still registered with the FAA.

Original fabric from the elevator of this airplane was used aesthetically to build backgrounds for Web pages found at the Clover Field and Peterson Field sites.

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