This airplane is a 1929 Fairchild F-71, S/N 675. You may see an image of it here. And another here. Below, from the Journal of the American Aviation Historical Society (AAHS), Spring, 2013, is a photograph of NC2K from 1971.
Fairchild F-71 NC2K, Ca. 1971 (Source: AAHS)
NC2K landed three times at Tucson. The first was on Sunday July 31, 1932. It was flown by Leo E. Mulcahey who carried as sole passenger C.W. Quinton. Based at San Francisco, CA they arrived from Riverside, CA, March Field enroute to Douglas, AZ. No purpose was stated for their flight. However, the present owner of the airplane states, "For approx. 34 yrs., between 1932 or so and 1955, N2K was operated by Fairchild Aerial Surveys. Often it was flown from its base at Hollywood Burbank Airport to far flung destinations for aerial mapping purposes, many times to the east coast. I imagine that on those occasions when it landed at Tucson NC2K was on her way to a job in the East."
We know that Mulcahey earlier participated (perhaps not as a competitor) in the Ford Reliability Tour of 1928. You can see him on page 78 of this document in a group photograph taken at the time of the race.
Mulcahey landed again on September 9 or 10, 1932 (interpolated from the Register) carrying five unidentified passengers. Still based at San Francisco, he was westbound from Cleveland, OH to an unnamed destination. The National Air Races were held at Cleveland from August 27 - September 5, 1932. We can conjecture that Mulcahey was on his way back to the west coast from attending the Races.
The airplane's final landing at Tucson was somewhere between June 5 and June 13, 1934 (again, interpolated from the Register). The pilot was Los Angeles-based C.J. Holms. He noted in the Register no passengers . Neither did he cite a destination, nor purpose for his trip.
A site visitor points out a curious and spectacular finding regarding this airplane. It appears in "The Perils of Pauline" (1933) with Evalyn Knapp (a twelve part serial) in episodes six (Pursued by Savages) and seven (Tracked by the Enemy). The film shows people boarding/deplaning and takeoff/landing sequences (off road and on) as well as some flybys.
It also appears in a chapter of the "Ace Drummond" serial from 1936. In episode 1, at exactly six minutes and 15 seconds into the movie, you can see NC2K crash. If you stop the action you can clearly see the registration number on the top of the right wing as it folds against a tree. Given that this airplane is still be flying (right sidebar), it is clear from the movie that it must have undergone an aggressive rebuild! Either that, or the crash scene involved a model that was painted to look like NC2K. If you find any of these links broken, please let me KNOW.
UPLOADED: 01/06/09 REVISED: 05/13/12, 07/28/14