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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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Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race is available at the link. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. What was it like to fly from Oakland to Honolulu in a single-engine plane during August 1927? Was the 25,000 dollar prize worth it? Did the resulting fame balance the risk? For the first time ever, this book presents the pilot and navigator's stories written by them within days of their record-setting adventure. Pilot Art Goebel and navigator William V. Davis, Jr. take us with them on the Woolaroc, their orange and blue Travel Air monoplane (NX869) as they enter the hazardous world of Golden Age trans-oceanic air racing. ISBN 978-0-9843074-3-2.

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*One C.E. Powell was the manager of Grand Central Charter Service in late 1935.  L.L. Miles was the traffic manager.  We see pilot Powell at Tucson earlier in 1935 flying Fokker Super Universal NC126M.  Click the link to see this Fokker in action.

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LOCKHEED VEGA Model 1 NC7044

LOCKHEED VEGA Model 1 NC7044

DRAWN WHISKEY

This airplane is a Lockheed Vega Model 1 (S/N 11; ATC #49) manufactured July 31, 1928 by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, CA.  It left the factory with a Wright Whirlwind J-5A engine (S/N 8952) of 200 HP.  It was a five-place airplane weighing 2,900 pounds.

It sold on August 1, 1928 to Maddux Airlines, Inc., Burbank, CA for $13,500.  The airplane was painted orange.  Surprisingly, during a routine check at the factory the engine broke off almost entirely just ahead of the cockpit!  It was replaced overnight with the fuselage of Vega S/N 44, which had not yet been assigned a registration number.  And so to Maddux Airlines!

Below, from the University of Southern California Digital Library (USC), a photograph of NC7044 during 1928 on the ground at Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA. Note the owner's name "Maddux..." painted on the fuselage behind the leftmost gentleman's elbow. We can deduce the photo was taken sometime between August 1 and December 31, 1928.

Lockheed Vega NC7044, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA, 1928 (Source: USC)
Lockheed Vega NC7044, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA, 1928 (Source: USC)

If you go to the USC link, above, you'll find another photograph of NC7044 and be able to zoom in on this photograph and explore the details. For example, the Wright engine, the service truck just behind the rudder, the number "7044" on the rudder, the name of the propeller manufacturing company, and the airfield beacon barely visible in this photograph to the right of the propeller atop the mountain. Note, too, the details of dress on the five unidentified gentlemen. Knickers and argyle socks, wingtip shoes and skimmers were in vogue during the late 1920s. Can anyone identify the people? Please let me KNOW.

NC7044 landed at Tucson twice, on October 6th and October 16, 1928 flown by Larry G. Fritz.  Fritz was Chief Pilot for Maddux. He is not among the people in the photograph above. He carried the same two passengers each time, H.J. Mathis and N.J. Moffett.  I do not know if they are in the photograph above. On October 6th they were eastbound from Los Angeles, CA to Cleveland, OH.  On the 16th they were westbound from El Paso, TX to Los Angeles.  They were on the ground for 30 minutes during this stop, and Fritz noted in the Remarks column of the Register, "Quick service".

Maddux flew 7044 for a couple of years and sold it on March 18, 1930 to Curtiss-Wright Flying Service, Inglewood, CA.  It then sold four more times up to December 4, 1935 when it was purchased by Loren L. Miles who was associated with Grand Central Charter Service, Glendale, CA (see the starred note, left sidebar). The photograph, below, is of the airplane as it was owned by Miles.

Lockheed Vega NC7044, 1938, Location Unknown (Source: Kalina)
Lockheed Vega NC7044, 1938, Location Unknown

NC7044 was named “Miss Patricia”, then “Miss Patsy” while owned by Miles. "Miss Patsy" can be seen painted on the lower front cowl. A Wright Whirlwind J-5 (S/N D9071) was installed and the airplane apparently went into storage early in WWII.  The NASM record notes Miles was killed in action during WWII. Photo contributor Tim Kalina states, "Note that at this late date (at least for a Vega) the plane still is powered by a J-5 Whirlwind and has no NACA cowling. Note too the fat low-pressure tires (even the tailwheel appears to be fatter than normal)." Another photo of "Miss Patsy" is below, courtesy of a site visitor.

NC7044 After 1935, Location Unknown (Source: Site Visitor)

This next view of NC7044 shows it mid-takeoff with "Miss Patsy" visible on the cowling. The image is courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr Stream (SDAM).

Lockheed NC7044 Taking Off, Date & Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)

Below, another view of NC7044 at Glendale's Grand Central Air Terminal. "Miss Patsy" no longer appears on the cowl. Compare the wheels and tires to the photographs just above and below.

Lockheed Vega NC7044, GCAT, After 1935 (Source: Site Visitor)
Lockheed Vega NC7044, GCAT, After 1935 (Source: Site Visitor)

In 1938, the airplane appeared in the film "Men With Wings," starring Fred MacMurray and Ray Milland. Below, courtesy of site visitor Mike Boss, is a front port quarter photograph of the airplane identified as "NX704" under the wing. The number was probably modified for the film.

NC7044 in "Men With Wings" Painted NX704 (Source: Boss)
NC7044 in "Men With Wings" Painted NX704 (Source: Boss)

Unrelated to NC7044, Mr. Boss identifies the location as Los Angeles Metropolitan Airport, ca. 1938. The tower building in the background is famous, because it appears in the 1942 movie "Casablanca" in an early scene where the French Captain Renault meets the Nazi Major Strasser who arrives as a passenger in a Fokker Super Universal. You can see a photograph of that scene by scrolling down at the link. In that scene, the building appears to be freshly painted and pyramid shaped caps have been added to the corners.The tower also appears in the final, foggy scene where Humphrey Bogart bids his famous last goodbye to Ingrid Bergman.

On August 17, 1945, NC7044 came out of storage and was purchased by Leo Yoder of Los Angeles, CA.  He had an accident with it “sometime in 1945” and the fuselage was damaged from engine to passenger door.  It was repaired.  Over the next four years it sold three more times, moving from the west coast to the midwest.

On May 28, 1949, NC7044 was bought by Fletcher C. Handley, Kingfisher, OK.  Handley reportedly installed a Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN-1 from a BT-13 and used it “to draw whiskey into the dry mid-west.”  There is little record of it over the next six years.

In 1952 it was sold for $300 to Page Aviation, Oklahoma City, OK.  The engine was removed and sold, the aircraft stripped and destroyed.  As of March 15, 1955 it was reported “permanently retired from service”.  It had been exposed to weather (it was made of wood).  No further information.

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On December 1, 2009, I learned that NC7044 is still registered with the FAA (as of Friday, August 18, 1995). It is owned by a company in Pennsylvania. More coming as I find out about it.

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UPLOADED: 04/10/06 REVISED: 12/01/08, 12/04/09, 08/20/13, 08/20/13, 02/25/14, 12/05/14

 
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I'm looking for photographs of this airplane to include on this page. If you have one or more you'd like to share, please use this FORM to contact me.

Lower portrait of NC7044 contibuted by friend of dmairfield.org, Tim Kalina. Thanks to Tim. And thanks to Guest Editor Bob Woodling for pointing out the USC photo.

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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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