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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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FORD 4-AT-C NC8411

FORD 4-AT-C NC8411

IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE

This airplane is a Ford 4-AT-C tri-motor (S/N 4-AT-49; ATC # 165) manufactured June, 1929 by the Stout Metal Airplane Company (Division of Ford Motor Company), Dearborn, MI.  It came from the factory with three Pratt & Whitney Wasp engines (S/Ns L 1586, C 1477, R 1601) of 400 HP each.  It weighed 13,500 pounds.

It sold on July 11, 1929 to Scenic Airways, Inc., Phoenix, AZ for $55,475 (with a lien to Aviation Credit Corp., NY).  While it was owned by Scenic and based in Phoenix, it landed at Tucson twice, on January 14th and January 24, 1930.  Both times it was flown by Albert Pyle carrying a single passenger, W.R. Sullivan.  Their itineraries were unimpressive, being back and forth between El Paso, TX, Tucson and Phoenix, AZ.

NC8411 was repossessed by Aviation Credit and sold in March, 1930 to United Aviation Corporation, Chicago, IL.  United transferred it a month later to Transcontinental Air Transport, Inc., New York, NY. 

Through the 1930s it moved through the hands of Transcontinental and Western Air (TWA, January 30, 1931), St. Louis Flying Service (July 30, 1937), Garland E. Lincoln (September 27, 1937), and South American Gulf Oil Co. (June 20, 1938). Interestingly, while in the hands of TWA, and wearing TWA livery, NC8411 appeared in the 12-part, serialized motion picture, "Hurricane Express," starring a very young John Wayne. With Wayne as pilot, and with a load of gold, the airplane crashed at the end of the second episode. It was shown to good advantage in the air and on the ground in the first two episodes. Not to worry, Wayne and passengers parachuted to the ground before the crash, the gold was recovered, was sought by good and bad through the next ten episodes, and intertwined with a murder investigation ramrodded by Wayne. Below, NC8411 can be read on the vertical stabilizer behind John Wayne's cap. He is talking with actress and female lead Shirley Grey near the beginning of the movie.

NC8411 in "The Hurricane Express," 1932 (Source: Movie)
NC8411 in "The Hurricane Express," 1932 (Source: Movie)

There are brief sequences in the movie that show NC8411 aloft, but none show the registration number well.

With South American Gulf, NC8411 was exported (Export certificate 4252, issued September 21, 1938) and flown to Colombia, S.A.  Before they flew it south, it was converted by Aero Trades Co., Roosevelt Field, NY to a cargo aircraft with “Panagra type” hatch.  “New heavy duty wheels, tires, axles, brakes, etc. installed, and wheel fenders of same type as Panagra aircraft.”  It had three Wasp engines of 450 HP installed (S/Ns L 3005, C 3037, R 2998).

It suffered an accident on April 15, 1939.  NC8411 left Tarra field over the Catatumbo Jungle for Aquacucho, Colombia, and was, “found next day about 15 km N.E. of El Carmen, Santander del Norte.  Apparently on instruments and flew head-on into a mountain about 10 km N.E. of Convencion, Colombia.  Accident was at 6000’ above sea level and 800’ below top of mtn.”

Pilot James Drummond and copilot/mechanic/radio operator Lawrence E. Smith were killed.  The $20,000 payroll for Ayachuco oil field workers was scattered, but recovered. No further information.

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UPLOADED: 04/01/06 REVISED: 09/26/14

 
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