REGISTERED "NS", "NC" AND "NR"
This airplane is a Stearman model C-3B (S/N 164) manufactured October 20, 1928 under ATC# 55 by the Stearman Aircraft Co., Wichita, KS. It left the factory with a Wright J-5 engine (S/N B-9265) engine of 200 HP. It was a three-place land biplane that weighed 2,650 pounds.
NS7548 sold initially on October 18, 1928 to the Airways Division of the Department of Commerce, Washington, DC. Its first few years of life were spent flying and checking airways in the U.S. southwest and west. Below, a photograph of NS7548 in a lineup of other aircraft. The source is the Albuquerque(NM) Museum Photo Archives (AMPA), dated 1929. NS7548 is the only airplane with a visible registration number. Painted on the fuselage is "U.S. Department of Commerce Airways."
Stearman NS7548, Albuquerque, NM, 1929 (Source: AMPA)
The Museum identifies the building at rear as the "Administration Building." The crowd stands well-controlled behind a simple rope line. A wind sock lies flaccid on the pole at left. And the Stearman has a conically-streamlined landing light mounted on the lower right wing. If anyone knows the reason behind the gathering of aircraft and the crowd of people, please let me KNOW.
NS7548 landed at Tucson at least three times, each landing flown by Lawrence C. Elliott. The first was on Sunday February 16, 1930 at 10:30 AM carrying passenger Charles R. Burnett. They were westbound from El Paso, TX, stayed overnight and departed the next morning at 11 AM to Los Angeles, CA.
The second landing was on Friday March 7, 1930, again carrying Burnett. Based at Bolling Field, Washington, DC, they were westbound from San Diego, CA and did not cite their final destination.
For his third landing, Elliott visited solo on Thursday October 23, 1930 at 6:30PM. Still based in Washington, DC, he arrived from El Paso, TX, probably stayed overnight (departure date not cited) and returned to El Paso.
NS7548 was reconditioned three times during DOC service, at the factory sometime in 1929, on January 31, 1930 at San Antonio, TX and on November 4, 1930 at Albuquerque, NM. The reconditioning included the, “fuselage and tail re-covered” with fabric. On February 9, 1931, NS7548 was reported sold to the, “United States Government” in what appears to be an inter-departmental shift of assets.
It suffered an accident during March 1931, which required new factory parts for the landing gear and the front spar of the left wing. It suffered additional accidents on March 23, 1932 at Washington, DC and on October 18, 1932 at Portland, OR with no official reports in the NASM record of damages or injuries. It appeared from the record to be flown by the 18th Lighthouse District, San Francisco, CA at that time.
On March 18, 1933 the airplane was sold to John J. Adams of Beverly Hills, CA for $600, less log books, with about 812 total flight hours. The “NC” license was issued May 2, 1933. There was a "J.J. Adams" of North Hollywood who signed the Register during July 1932 flying a Great Lakes. Might be the same person, maybe not.
On June 13, 1933 NC7548 was sold to Holland Livestock Co. of Ogden, UT. Upon inspection on March 29, 1934 it was recorded to have accumulated 600:55 flight hours. It is unclear what happened to the 812 hours flown during government service, but these later hours seem to be new, perhaps recorded from scratch in the new log books (which was illegal).
About a year later NC7548 was sold, on June 16, 1934, to Schneider Aero Service, Fresno, CA. Schneider owned the airplane until 1942, when it had accumulated 1,742 total flight hours. He had acquired a permit to tow a “sky banner” on November 1, 1938.
On February 9, 1942 the airplane sold to Ralph O. Clarke (commercial license #9456) of Marysville, CA and converted to agricultural use by having a crop seeder hopper installed. It was assigned a “NR” registration and restricted to a single-place airplane.
NR7548 suffered an accident on May 4, 1944 at Colusa, CA at 5:20PM. The report states that pilot Clarke, “in landing, avoiding oil drums, hit irrigation checks and nosed over, too much speed (full throttle) for brakes to hold. Prop bent, major damage to engine & L/G.” It was repaired as of May 18, 1944 with a new propeller, engine mount and landing gear parts. The two-week turnaround for these major repairs is probably due to the pressing need for agricultural aircraft during WWII. It would be another year before Germany surrendered.
On February 4, 1946 the airplane was sold to Almer L. Borges of Clarksburg, CA. On July 15, 1946 owner Borges reported the aircraft, “destroyed by fire.” No further information.
UPLOADED: 12/31/07 REVISED: 11/05/13