Biplane

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Some of 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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Your copy of the "Davis-Monthan Airfield Register" with all the pilots' signatures and helpful cross-references to pilots and their aircraft is available at the link. Or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-0-1.

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http://www.cafepress.com/content/global/img/spacer.gifThe Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of www.dmairfield.org and the 10th year of effort on the project dedicated to analyze and exhibit the history embodied in the Register of the Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ. This book includes over thirty people, aircraft and events that swirled through Tucson between 1925 and 1936. It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders. Order your copy at the link, or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author.  ISBN 978-0-9843074-4-9.

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FOKKER F-7-A-3M, BA-1 TRI-MOTOR NX4204

FOKKER F-7-A-3M, BA-1 TRI-MOTOR NX4204

“JOSEPHINE FORD”

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!

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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 Hudgin. To my knowledge, they have not been published elsewhere.

"Josephine Ford" landed at Tucson on November 9, 1926 piloted by Floyd Bennett and 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.

Josephine Ford Personnel

Left to right we have C.F. Kunkel, then Donald Keyhoe, a 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.

Bennett and Balchen were Richard Byrd's pilots during his attempt to reach the North Pole in May 1926. The “Josephine Ford” was Byrd’s 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 story.

After 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 Diego, CA
Josephine Ford at San Diego, CA

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)
"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.

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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

 
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