This airplane is a Stearman C-3-B, S/N 179. It was manufactured November 13, 1928 by the Stearman Aircraft Co., Wichita, KS. It sold on November 12th to the Richfield Oil Company of California and it was picked up at the factory by Richfield pilot Dudley M. Steele. It left the factory with a Wright J-5A engine (S/N B-9300) of 220 HP. It was a three-place airplane that weighed 2,650 pounds. You can see an image of the airplane at Steele's link.
NC6439 appears in the Register nine times between November 1928 and April 1929. As such, it was a relatively frequent visitor. It was flown to Tucson eight times by Steele and once by Ralph Hall, whom I think (if it's the same Ralph Hall) was later test pilot for Rearwin and the American Eagle "Eaglet." Most of their flights with NC6439 were on the east-west axis between Lordsburg/El Paso and Los Angeles.
Although used relatively frequently (it accumulated near 1,800 total flight hours during its life), NC6439 lived barely eight years. Steele flew the airplane for about 1,400 of those hours, but operated it only four years. That's a lot of flying (350 hours/year).
The airplane suffered and accident at San Simeon, CA on August 26, 1931 with, "damage to L/G, 1 wing rib, prop best, est. $150." It was repaired with factory parts, inspected and approved by September 12, 1931. As of May 10, 1932, pilot Phil Durfee (not a Register pilot) was assigned as pilot for Richfield out of San Francisco.
In what looks like a brokerage, the airplane sold for $1,350 on April 5, 1933 to Allen Edwards at United Airport, Burbank, CA. Edwards sold it to Gloria Foy of Hollywood, CA on April 8, 1933. Herein lies an interesting story. Foy (October 25, 1901 - February 27, 1977) was an actress, singer and dancer (Ziegfield Follies) of the 1920s, and part of the theatrical Foy family. She learned to fly in August 1933, the same year she made her only film, "Dancing Lady", with Joan Crawford. Edwards was Foy's boyfriend, so the transaction from Richfield through Edwards to Foy might have been a cover to transfer the airplane to Foy from Richfield. The airplane had a total of 1,598 flight hours as of May 17, 1933.
Regardless, her custody of the airplane was brief. Foy sold the airplane to Harry McCollom of Los Angeles, CA on July 2, 1934. McCollom (pilot license #30215) flew the airplane to an accident in Crawford, NB on August 30, 1936. He was fatally injured and the airplane was "washed out". No further information.
UPLOADED: 01/15/08 REVISED: