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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.

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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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TRAVEL AIR NC2123

Registration Number NC2123

Bad Luck at Ely and Willows

This aircraft is a Travel Air 4000(BW), S/N 163, manufactured by Travel Air Manufacturing Company, Wichita, KS. Due to an unusually high number of accidents, this aircraft became a hybrid of parts at the end of its life, and became quite a different machine than when it left the factory in January, 1927.

When it was new, it was fitted with a Wright Whirlwind J4B, S/N 7007, built in 1926. It weighed 2,405 pounds. It was sold in January, 1927 to Herbert Cecil Lippiatt, 506 No. Crescent Heights Blvd., Los Angeles, CA.

Mr. Lippiatt flew to the Davis-Monthan Airfield twice in this particular airplane. As well, he logged a total of five visits to the field in at least three different Travel Airs. On June 14, 1927 he arrived at 3:45 PM carrying one passenger, Art Goebel. They were subject to an inspection by the U.S. Border Patrol during this visit. They departed at 9:35 PM bound for Los Angeles. Again, on June 18, 1927, Mr. Lippiatt arrived at Davis-Monthan Airfield with Mr. Goebel on board. They arrived from Wichita at 10:00 AM, spent the night, and departed for Los Angeles at 10:00 AM on the 19th.

Arthur C. Goebel was an aviation pioneer and record setter himself. In August, 1927, just a couple of months after this visit to Davis-Monthan, he flew 2,437 miles in 26 hours and 17 minutes in the “Woolaroc”, winning the $25,000 prize for the Dole Flight from the Pacific Coast to Hawaii. Flying different aircraft, he later visited Davis-Monthan five times.

But, the Travel Air was sold on December 6, 1927 to Pacific Air Transport, 593 Market St., San Francisco, CA. It was to be used for Los Angeles to Seattle routes. It was involved in an accident on May 3, 1928 in Fresno, CA. The pilot, John Guglielmetti (transport license #221) of Oakland, CA, and one passenger were unhurt. The airplane was repaired, inspected and returned to service on 10/19/1928 with Wright J-4B engine c/n 6966.

While it was being repaired, it was sold on August 20, 1928 to Nevada Airways, Inc., Ely, NV. It had 490 hours total time. It suffered another accident in Ely on October 27, 1928, a week after it was returned to service. The pilot, B. Foster (transport license #2536), Oakland, CA and two passengers had minor injuries. The landing gear and lower wings washed out and it had one bent longeron. It was repaired, inspected and returned to service on January 15, 1929.

The airplane was purchased on October 8, 1929 by Gordon Griswold, Elko, NV. Mr. Griswold (private pilot certificate #10384) crashed the airplane on December 14, 1929 in Ely, NV. He and two passengers suffered no injuries, but the aircraft had, “upper left wing damage and rudder and vertical fin damage.” It was repaired, inspected and approved for return to service on April 10, 1930. An anti-drag cowling had been installed.

About five years later, on August 17, 1934, the plane was sold to Newton H. Crumley, Elko, NV. A month later it was resold on September 21, 1934 to Floyd Harrison Nolta, 418 West Laurel St., Willows, CA. It was Licensed “NR” and restricted for crop dusting and crop sowing with Wright J-5 engine c/n 7665 installed. It had a canvas hopper mounted in the front cockpit.

Records for the next few years of its life are indistinct. On April 10, 1939, it was altered by installing an aluminum hopper and aluminum covering on the fuselage in the rudder area. And its original fuselage was replaced with one belonging to Travel Air c/n 564 (formerly licensed as 7282). As of March 29, 1940 it had logged 3,683:55 hours total time. In 14 years, it had logged an average of over 260 hours per year. This is admirable, given the amount of downtime it had due to accidents and repairs. A new right lower wing was installed and repairs made as of May 2, 1941.

On May 15, 1941 at 6:00AM it crashed two miles east of Willows, CA. The pilot, William Eddy of Oakland, CA (commercial certificate #30591), was uninjured. A weld on the landing gear broke on landing and the plane nosed over. There was damage to the propeller, upper wing panels, center section, rudder and vertical stabilizer. It was repaired by May 19, 1941. The damaged parts were replaced, taken from Travel Air c/n 736 (formerly registered as 6289). It had Wright J-5, c/n 8363 installed.

A year later on May 17, 1942 at 8:00 AM it was involved in an accident five miles east of Butte City, CA. The pilot, Rex O. Williams, 347 San Mateo Dr., San Mateo, CA (commercial certificate #37691), was uninjured. There was damage to both lower and one upper wing, landing gear, propeller and engine case. It was repaired as of May 211942. All four wings were replaced with factory-built wings. Other repairs were made with factory parts. Wright J-5 c/n B-10113 was installed.

The rapidity with which repairs were performed is exhilarating. This plane must have been a prime spraying and sowing resource for the agricultural community. It couldn’t afford many days off, especially during wartime. The lack of injuries among the pilots that flew it is testimony to the skills of these ag pilots.

On April 30, 1943 it crashed at 7:00 AM at Willows, CA. Operating out of a small field sowing rice, coming in for another load, mud built up in the brakes and the plane nosed over on its back. The pilot, Chester Derby of Willows (commercial certificate #48975) was uninjured. The propeller was bent, engine case broken, rudder and vertical stabilizer damaged. There is no record of whether it was repaired.

On September 19m 1944 it was sold to W.R. Nolta, R.D. #2, Box 361, Chico, CA. Wright J-5 c/n 8284 was installed. In March, 1948 it was reported as, “wrecked and used for parts some time ago.” Its license was cancelled on March 29, 1948, just shy of its 21st birthday.

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UPLOADED: 6/9/05 REVISED: 11/18/08, 09/10/11

 
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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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