Pilot Eyes!

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A copy of the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register with cross-references to pilots and airplanes is available here.

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You may view other motion picture films on this site by following this link.

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This link leads you to a book that describes and illustrates with black & white images the majority of military aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield between 1925 and 1936. The book includes biographies of some of the pilots who flew the aircraft to Tucson. These Keystone bombers are among the aircraft pictured and described.

 
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MOTION PICTURES:

KEYSTONE LB-5A BOMBERS

This film was taken at the Davis-Monthan Airfield, most probably on September 7, 1928. What excitement and wonderful noise there must have been in the air and on the ground just after the lunch hour!

On that day the Register records landings by eight Keystone LB-5A bombers. They arrived en masse from Langley Field, Hampton, VA, signing in at 1:30PM. If you count carefully the airplanes in the film, you will see nine aircraft on the line. In all likelihood one of the pilots neglected to sign the Register. The pilots and crew remained overnight in Tucson, departing on the 8th westbound for Los Angeles, CA. The purpose of this cross-country voyage is presently unknown, but see below. I need to do a little more research on this.

This is a silent film. Use your cursor and the menu bar below the image to control the movie.

You see a mix of activity on this approximately 40 seconds of film. Initially, but very briefly, you see two military types sitting/squatting on the ground. Then gentleman on the left in the campaign hat is Dewey Simpson, Airfield manager at the time. One holds what looks like paperwork. Then you see two Keystone bombers on overhead approach to the old Airfield. One bomber rolls to the line just before engine shut down.

Next the flight line is panned from a fixed position showing the presence of nine aircraft. The film was probably taken just after the aircraft shut down, because you can see the flight crew taking off coveralls and walking around with leather helmets and goggles still on.

Near the end you see several civilian gentlemen sitting in a car partaking of liquid refreshment from a Thermos jug, military personnel (or are they Boy Scouts?) gathered in an informal gaggle, as well as a study of a vintage fire truck and apparatus. Play the film over again, you'll find more!

You can find these airplanes and their pilots and passengers recorded in the Register on pages 56-57 near the bottom of the page. Among the pilots were: H.W. Beaton, William B. Blaufuss (landed at Tucson four times between 1928 and 1932, and once at Clover Field, Santa Monica, CA in 1935), John R. Drumm (landed twice in 1928 and 1933) , Harold Lee George (landed five times between 1926 and 1934), A.H. Johnson, A.J. Kerwin, Cecil G. Sellers and W.R. Wolfinbarger. The film shows the airmen and other personnel milling about the parked aircraft. The names of the pilots and the numbers of their airplanes are shown in the following table.

Plane
Type

Plane
Model

Plane
Number

Arrival
Date

Pilot
Last Name

First Name

Keystone

LB-5A

28-5

9/7/1928

Beaton

H.W.

Keystone

LB-5A

 

9/7/1928

Blaufuss

Wm. B.

Keystone

LB-5A

 

9/7/1928

Drumm

John R.

Keystone

LB-5A

 

9/7/1928

George

Harold Lee

Keystone

LB-5A

28-8

9/7/1928

Johnson

A.H.

Keystone

LB-5A

27-7

9/7/1928

Kerwin

A.J.

Keystone

LB-5A

28-4

9/7/1928

Sellers

Cecil G.

Keystone

LB-5A

 

9/7/1928

Wolfinbarger

W.R.

Look closely, can anyone identify any of the people? Please let me know.

According to aerofiles.com, in 1927 the Keystone Aircraft Corp, Bristol PA, evolved from Huff-Daland Airplane Co. In 1928 Keystone merged with Loening Co., 31st and East River, New York NY. In 1931 it became the Keystone Aircraft Div, Curtiss-Wright Corp, Bristol PA.

From the registration numbers recorded in the Register, viz. 28-4, 28-5, 28-7, 28-8, these were among the first new airplanes purchased by the Army in 1928. They were probably being ferried from their staging point after manufacture to the west coast.

The other four airplanes recorded in the Register are not identified by registration number. It is likely they were numbers less than 10, however. Can anyone identify any of the registration numbers of the airplanes from the squadron numbers visible on the nose of the airplanes in the film (e.g. 35, 36, 46)?

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You may review this and all the film clips on www.dmairfield.org here!

UPLOADED: 04/03/07 REVISED:

 
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FILM CREDITS

This clip is shared with us through the courtesy of Les Wolf & Family of Tucson.  The films come to us through Lt. Col. (RET) Alan Thomas, long-time friend of dmairfield.org.  The original film, camera and projector belonged to Les Wolf’s step dad; John Phieffer.  According to Mr. Wolf’s late grandmother Mr. Phieffer owned the first 16mm equipment in Tucson at the time.  The films, original camera and projector were retrieved during a remodel of the family home in January 1989.

At that time the Temple of Music and Art in Tucson was undergoing substantial remodeling and they discovered footage of its original construction among the film reels.  The films were donated to the Arizona Historical Society and to local TV stations, which used them in their broadcast stories about the Temple of Music and Art.

Mr. Wolf says, “My father (… now deceased) was born in Tucson (1917) and [lived] thru all that history [which] didn’t impress him as it did me.  Subsequently he “allowed” donation of these materials in our shared name; Les Wolf & family.  All my family dearly loves Tucson and its history.  On their behalf, thank you for your interest.” 

It is we who should thank Mr. Wolf and Lt. Col. Thomas!

 
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