LOCKHEED ORION 9 NC964Y
BACK AND FORTH ACROSS THE BORDER
This airplane is a Lockheed Orion 9 (S/N 169; ATC# 421)
manufactured during April 1931 by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation,
CA. It left the factory with a Pratt & Whitney
Wasp C engine (S/N 3901 or 3534, not sure) of 450 HP. It
was a seven-place airplane. It had five fuel tanks
installed with a total capacity of 122 gallons. It
also had retractable landing gear, a first for a multiple
passenger, commercial airliner.
NC964Y was sold on April 30, 1931 to Bowen Air Lines, Inc.,
Fort Worth, TX. It was flown on Bowen passenger air
routes between 1931 and 1934. Below, the airplane in the final throes of enduring a belly landing at an unknown location and date. I captured this image off the web. It was part of a blog thread that I wasn't sure would be there reliably. I wanted to be sure to capture this spectacular photograph. The pilot was identified as Register pilot P.F. "Pop" Hotchkiss flying for Bowen. It is difficult to tell if there are passengers in the airplane. The date is probably sometime between 1931 and 1934.
NC964Y "Landing", Ca. 1931-34, Location Unknown (Source: Web)
NC964Y landed three times at Tucson. Twice it was during
its ownership by Bowen, and both times it was flown by Ernest
Petteway. The first landing occurred sometime between
October 4 and 6, 1931 (he didn’t enter his arrival
date). The Register is hard to understand here, but
it looks like he carried two passengers, Francis Bristow
and the boss’ wife Mrs. Bowen. They did not cite
The second landing was on October 15, 1931 at 11:05AM. Petteway
carried five unidentified passengers. They were eastbound
to Ft. Worth, TX. It is not certain if the airplane visited Tucson before or after the accident above.
On February 14, 1934 the airplane was sold to C.G. Peterson
of New York, NY. Five weeks later, on March 28, 1934,
Peterson sold it for $7,975.00 to Aerovias Centrales, S.A.
(ACSA) in Mexico. ACSA was a Pan American Airways subsidiary. It
was registered in Mexico as XA-BEI.
Under this Mexican registry, we find our Orion back at Tucson for its third visit
on November 3, 1934. It was flown solo by Sterling
Boller. Based in Mexico City he was enroute from El
Paso, TX to Los Angeles, CA. He noted in the Passenger
column of the Register, "Ferry" and "Pan American".
Maybe this was a maintenance flight back to the factory at
Almost a year after its last visit to Tucson, the Mexican
registration was cancelled on September 19, 1935, and the
Orion was returned to the U.S. and registered on September
25, 1935 to Pan American Airways, Inc., New York, NY. It
received U.S. registration NC13977 and was operated by Pan
American out of Brownsville, TX 1935-1936.
The U.S. registration was cancelled as of June 11, 1936
at the request of Pan American. It was exported to
Mexico June 19, 1936 by way of Brownsville. It was
registered in Mexico as XA-BAY.
A couple of months later, on August 3, 1936, XA-BAY (nee:
NC964Y/XA-BEI/NC13977) crashed against the volcano Pico de Orizaba. Pilot
Capt. Jaoquin Rivadeneyra Vasquez was killed. No further
UPLOADED: 06/25/06 REVISED: 02/20/09, 11/09/09, 10/21/12