Anthony Fokker (C) and Mrs. Fokker in NC5614, Ca. 1928 (Source: NASM)
NC5614 landed at Tucson June 22, 1928. It was exactly one month old, flown by Thomas
J. Fowler. Interestingly, it carried as VIP passengers Mr.
& Mrs. Anthony Fokker, at center and right in the photograph at left. This image is also shown on page 69 of "FOKKER - THE MAN AND HIS AIRCRAFT" by Henri Hegener published by Harlyford Publications, Ltd., 1961.
Plane and passengers were traveling east
Angeles, CA to Chicago,
IL. Imagine watching this brand new airplane descending over the mountains into Tucson. The man on the left is identified as Richfield Oil CEO James Talbot.
NC5614 is pictured online on a blog at the link (scroll about halfway down the page). I'm not sure how long the content will be available at the blog, so I have clipped the relevant section, below. Note the photographs of the interior. From the presence of the Fokkers and the dates of arrival at Tucson and the acquisition of the airplane by Talbot, it's pretty safe to say that Fowler was flying the ferry flight for the delivery of NC5614 to Richfield Oil and Talbot.
James B. Talbot's custom F10-A Super Universal Fokker
In 1928, James B. Talbot, president of Richfield Oil, ordered for his own personal use a Tri-Motor F10-A Super Universal Fokker, which arrived in Los Angeles and hand delivered by Anthony Fokker himself. Described as “one of the most luxurious planes operating in California,” the Fokker F-10A had a wingspan of 90 feet and was powered by three 425 hp Wasp motors allowing for a cruising speed of 115 mph. The custom interior of the Fokker, which seated eight passengers and two pilots, was fitted out in comfortable seats and a chaise lounge, each upholstered with a unique zodiac design. A kitchenette, refrigerator and table accommodated in-flight dining. Richfield and Fokker became involved with each other and a fleet of the planes were ordered for service for Western Air Express (later Western Airlines).
Fore and Aft views of the Talbot Fokker. "The side walls and floor are in black, the upper walls in tan and the ceiling in blue, silver and gold. The chairs are covered in henna and sand colored rodier, which is designed after the signs of the Zodiac."
More specifically, the interior of NC5614 was vibrant midnight blue, with silver, gold and earth tones. A mosaic of zodiac in December (Talbot's birth month) covered the ceiling. Walls and ceiling had with Orion, Lyra and Taurus, upholstery. The lounges were covered in similar fabrics. The airplane had black velvet rugs. If you're feeling you were born 70 years too late, join the club.
Below is an unusual action image of one of the biggest transport
aircraft of the Golden Age. NC5614 is a Fokker F-10 Trimotor,
S/N 1003. It was manufactured on May 22, 1928 by the Atlantic Aircraft Corporation, Teterboro, NJ. It came from the factory with three Pratt & Whitney Wasp engines of 420HP each (S/N left 333, middle 723, right 334). It sold originally on June 2, 1928 to James A. Talbot, Richfield Oil Corporation of California, Los Angeles.
NC5614 Fokker F-10, ca. 1929, Location Unknown
(Source: Klein Archive)
Data on the image (source cited, left sidebar) states: "Fokker F-10 “Tri-Motor”,
3 P&W R-1340 “Wasp” 420 HP each, NC5614 c/n
1003 1934, Richfield Oil Co. Destroyed in a fire at Chicago 1935." Note
the well-synchronized propellers in this photograph. If you assume
engine rotation of about 1,800 RPM, and about 60-degrees
of propeller arc subtended during the exposure, the photographer
shot this image at about 1/180th of a second.
Below, courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr Stream (SDAM) is a photograph of NC5614 on the ground which shows clearly the Richfield Oil livery on the fuselage and engine nacelles. The photo is undated.
Fokker NC5614, Date & Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)
Below, another image allegedly taken over Los Angeles when the airplane was owned by Richfield (note writing on the bottom of the fuselage). The source of the image is cited in the left sidebar. I say "allegedly," because some similar photos of aircraft over LA are known to be photo tricks, where the photo of the airplane is superimposed on the background of LA below. It is not known if this photo was "fixed," but site visitor Mike Gerow states, "If you look very closely, I think you will see the shadows on the port engine nacelle don't agree with the position of the sun per the bldg shadows cast on the ground. In short, I think it's a good fake job." Caveat emptor.
NC5614 Over Los Angeles, Date Unknown (Source: Web)
Fokker F-10 NC5614, Date & Location Unknown
Image, above, from this source. NC5614 sold on January 7, 1929 to Northern Air Lines, Inc., Minneapolis, MN. There is no mention in the NASM record of its use with Northern. NC5614 sold again on September 29, 1929 to Universal Aviation Corporation, St. Louis, MO and was overhauled in December.
Among a fleet of ten, NC5614 was used on Universal's Cleveland - Chicago - Minneapolis route and called a "Sky Diner". Passengers flying that route were offered hot meals, a welcome feature during winter travels. Below, from SDAM, a profile of the "Sky Diner." The handsome logo of Universal Airlines is visible on the rear fuselage. An article about the Sky Diner from Popular Mechanics, June, 1929, is at the link (PDF 460Kb). Note the "Above Land Luncheon" menu for June 27, 1929.
Fokker NC5614 as the "Sky Diner," Ca. 1929 (Source: SDAM)
Six months after Universal bought it, after the October 1929 stock market "Crash" and the beginning of the Great Depression, NC5614 was, "Destroyed in hangar fire at Chicago, Ill., 6/25/30." Note the discrepancy between the data from the Smithsonian and that above written on the photograph regarding the date of destruction (1930 vs. 1935). We'll trust the Smithsonian on this one. No further information.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 09/30/07 REVISED: 12/31/07, 11/19/08, 04/07/11, 06/25/11, 03/13/13, 01/04/14, 12/03/14