BARELY A THREE-YEAR OLD
This airplane is a Stearman Model C-3R, S/N 5035, manufactured on September 4, 1930 under ATC #251 by the Stearman Aircraft Co., Wichita, KS. It left the factory with a Wright R-760 engine, S/N 13816, of 240HP. It was a three-place biplane. It had a Hamilton Standard steel propeller S/N 11666. It weighed 2,754 pounds gross, with a useful load in land configuration of 1,013 pounds.
Its license was applied for on September 2, 1930 and issued on the 15th. It sold initially on September 26th to the Macmillan Petroleum Corp. of Los Angeles, CA. I have a copy of the complete FAA dossier for this airplane, some of which is shared below.
Upon an inspection dated October 13, 1930, the Department of Commerce (DOC) noted that removable skywriting equipment had been installed. The license was reissued on October 15th stating, “When sky writing equipment not to exceed 400 lbs is installed no passengers are to be carried.”
NC793H landed at Tucson August 23, 1931 flown by Eddie Martin. He carried R.S. Macmillan as his sole passenger. Martin was identified in correspondence with the DOC as “Pilot, Macmillan Pet. Co.” They were eastbound from Los Angeles to El Dorado, AR. We might assume the sky writing equipment was removed.
This wasn’t the first flight made by the airplane from LA to Arkansas. In the official records from the FAA, the following letter appears dated seven months earlier (February 1st) that year.
NC793H Lost Registration Certificate
This is one of the hazards of open-cockpit airplanes. Just imagine the certificates, navigation charts, lunches, leather helmets, goggles and other loose gear that wound up sucked from pilots’ or passengers’ grips, to be lost to the relative wind of the Golden Age! But imagine also the surprise on the faces of those on the ground who might have found these treasures (hopefully not by being struck by them).
This request for a duplicate license was complied with in a prompt and straight-forward manner as indicated in the following letter.
NC793H Lost Registration Certificate
Notice that this letter is signed by Register pilot Gilbert G. Budwig.
As strange as it may seem, another letter of April 14, 1932, written this time by Martin to the DOC, makes the same request to replace a lost registration certificate. Amusingly, as if with a slap on the wrist, the DOC responded with the requirement that Martin and Macmillan send a notarized affidavit explaining why the certificate issued on October 16, 1931 was lost. This may not seem like a big deal, to lose a registration certificate. But the requirement to have it in the cockpit at all times “conspicuously displayed in the aircraft where it may be readily seen by passengers”, is still a Federal Aviation Regulation to this day.
The airplane was sold. On May 18, 1933 appears a letter in the record that transfers NC793H from Macmillan to Albert C. Riedell, “For $10.00 and other valuable considerations”. Simultaneously, Macmillan Petroleum was in receivership (a victim of the Great Depression?), and there was a flurry of correspondence between Riedell and the DOC regarding the assembly of all the documentation necessary for transfer of the aircraft title to him. Record of the legal transfer came from the DOC on July 20, 1933.
And so Mr. Riedell went flying. On July 22nd, according to the record, the airplane, “…washed out in an accident at Newport, California….” Mr. Riedel, who had received only his student pilot permit, was in the passenger seat and was killed. The identity or fate of the pilot is not mentioned in the record. The final three pages of the official record are included for your examination in this PDF download (84KB). No further information.
UPLOADED: 12/23/07 REVISED: 08/29/16