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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.

The image, right, was given to me in Tucson by Capt. George R. Monthan, USN (Ret.) in early October 2005. George is the nephew of Oscar Monthan, for whom the Davis-Monthan Airfield is named.

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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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http://www.cafepress.com/content/global/img/spacer.gifThe Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of www.dmairfield.org and the 10th year of effort on the project dedicated to analyze and exhibit the history embodied in the Register of the Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ. This book includes over thirty people, aircraft and events that swirled through Tucson between 1925 and 1936. It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders. Order your copy at the link, or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author.  ISBN 978-0-9843074-4-9.

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FORD 4-AT-A NC1781

FORD 4-AT-A NC1781

“ACE”

This airplane is a Ford 4-AT-A tri-motor (S/N 4-AT-12; ATC # GR 2-9) manufactured October 1, 1927 by the Stout Metal Airplane Company (Ford Motor Company), Dearborn, MI.  It came from the factory with three Wright Whirlwind J-5CA engines (S/Ns L 7542, R 7543, C 8130) of 220 HP each.  It was a twelve-place airplane, weighing 9,300 pounds.

It sold on September 28, 1927 for $43,000 to J.L. Maddux for Maddux Air Lines, Inc. Los Angeles, CA.  This was the second Ford placed in service with Maddux.  It was to be used for the San Diego-San Francisco, CA route.  On May 2, 1928,  Maddux transferred it to his Air Lines Company. 

On January 16, 1929 the airplane was sold to the Pacific Finance Corporation of Los Angeles, CA for $25,000 (an exhilarating depreciation for an airplane a little over a year old).  The designated use was, “for scenic passenger flights”.

NC1781 at Tucson, date unknown

We find NC1781 landing twice at Tucson, on January 29, 1929 southeast bound from Los Angeles, CA to Douglas, AZ, and on June 10, 1929 northwest bound from Douglas, AZ to Los Angeles, CA.  Both times our pilot was Clarence “Ace” Bragunier.  He carried two passengers in January (Henry Jack Rowe; Lynn Berkenkamp) and one in June (Rowe). 

The image above, courtesy of George Monthan, is of NC1781 on the ground at Tucson, date unknown, but sometime during its service with Maddux.  We can see the legs of many people standing on the starboard side of the ship.  We can also see well the condition of the Airfield surface during the late 1920s. Compare the hangar in the background with that in the image near the bottom of this page.

NC1781 suffered an accident at Sherman, TX on March 31, 1929, just a couple of months after its visit to Tucson.  It was on a barnstorming tour as “Golden State Airline, Inc.” Pilot Bragunier (transport pilot license #1440) and ten passengers were uninjured.  The airplane had the, “fuselage caved in between #8 and #10 station”.  It was repaired at the Ford factory after an unapproved repair at Dallas, TX.

On May 16, 1930, the airplane was cited in a U.S. Customs violation (Case #2215 in Los Angeles, CA) and seized by the government.  On June 6, 1930 it was sold to Mary and Harold J. Flaherty of Los Angeles.  Its registration was cancelled on January 16, 1932 at the request of its owners.  It was acknowledged that it was to be flown in Mexico “for a few months.”

A letter dated May 9, 1933 from the Ford Motor Company states, “We understand that this plane was badly damaged in an accident in Mexico last year.”  Its registration in Mexico, S-BAFF was cancelled in 1933.  No further information.

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A few weeks after I put this page online, I was contacted by Ron Morgon of Long Beach, CA who offers the images below of a picture post card from a collection owned by his grandmother. It shows NC1781 in profile, with a copy of the Maddux Los Angeles to San Francisco route schedule. For an example of what it was like to fly this schedule, see NC4532. Many thanks to Ron for making dmairfield. org a better site for everybody.

NC1781 Postcard, date unk.
Maddux Schedule, date unk.

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UPLOADED: 03/29/06 REVISED: 04/21/06, 12/29/07

 
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