FOKKER F-7-A-3M, BA-1 TRI-MOTOR NX4204
CORRECTION TO THIS PAGE
It was brought to my attention by a site visitor that this airplane is, and has been, misidentified. The physical "Josephine Ford" and its history is as described below on this page. However, the serial and registration numbers (c/n 5028 and NX4204, respectively) belong to a different Fokker named "Friendship". The "Friendship" was mounted on floats and was used June 17-18, 1928 by Wilmer Stultz, Louis Gordon and Amelia Earhart for an Atlantic crossing. Earhart went along as a passenger..
The "Josephine Ford" was assigned serial number 4900, and it did not wear a registration number. This correction is further documented on this page at aerofiles.com. Note the images linked to that page.
Here is what I propose to do. I will preserve the original page below in order to maintain the site database directory and its associated hyperlinks (which key off of "NX4204"). The images on this page and at hyperlinks from it are of the real "Josephine Ford", without the registration number. So, disregard the numbers and enjoy the rest of the history!
ORIGINAL PAGE FOLLOWS
This airplane is a Fokker F-7-A-3M, BA-1 tri-motor built
in 1926 (S/N c/n 5028). It was an F-7-A converted into
Fokker's first tri-motor with three 200HP Wright J-4 engines. It
was used by Richard Byrd in his first North Pole flight of
May 9, 1926. The airplane was bought for him by Edsel
Ford and christened in his daughter's name, Josephine Ford.
For excellent images of this airplane, please click on Bennett's
name, below, and go to his page. The photos you'll find there
were taken at Tucson by Al
To my knowledge, they have not been published elsewhere.
"Josephine Ford" landed at Tucson on November
9, 1926 piloted by Floyd
Bernt Balchen (co-pilot). They carried four passengers identified
as Donald Keyhoe, Charles
Kunkel, G.O. Noville and John McPhail. They were eastbound
from San Diego,
CA (and Long
Beach), remaining overnight at Tucson, and continuing
to El Paso, TX on November 10th.
The image just above is the final image you'll find on
Bennett's page. I repeat it here, because if you enlarge
the group of people standing just between and under the nose
and right engine, you get the image below, left.
Left to right we have C.F. Kunkel, then Donald
writer who documented their tour of the United States, Floyd
Bennett and G.O. Noville in leather. The
gentleman in the white coverall is John McPhail, and, finally,
next to him on the far right is Bernt Balchen.
and Balchen were Richard Byrd's pilots during his attempt
to reach the North Pole in May 1926.
North Pole expedition airplane. Whether the
self-aggrandizing Byrd ever actually made it to the North
Pole with the airplane is in doubt, but that’s another
the North Polar flight, the Fokker "Josephine Ford" was
retired to the Henry
Ford Museum, where it is on display today. All totaled,
three of Byrd's arctic exploration aircraft landed at the
Davis-Monthan Airfield and are cited in the Register. They
are the "Josephine Ford", NC8006,
the "Stars & Stripes" and
NC4453, the "Virginia".
Below, second from the right, is an interesting aerial shot
of the "Josephine Ford" on the ground at San Diego, CA the
morning before it landed at Tucson. This image is
on p. 64 of "San Diego: Air Capital of the West" by Mary
L. Scott. The parent image can be found here in the Cosgrove Photograph and Document Collection.
Josephine Ford at Ryan Field, Dutch Flats, San
You may see other images of "Josephine Ford" and crew on the ground
at Tucson at this link.
Update of 12/03/10 The following rugged photograph is shared with us by site visitor. J. Popkin. It shows the "Josephine Ford" supported and floating on four ship's lifeboats, probably during Bryd's Arctic expedition of 1926.
"Josephine Ford" Near the North Pole, Ca. May, 1926 (Source: Popkin)
It is near its transport ship, the "Chantier," as evidenced by the cable and shackle hanging in the foreground. Note that the empennage is removed. At least three of the crew are piking icebergs away from the boats. It is not clear if this is at the beginning or end of the expedition.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 05/01/06 REVISED: 05/02/06, 07/19/06, 02/12/07, 03/20/08, 07/03/08 (correction), 12/03/10