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Some of this information comes from the biographical file for pilot Ashe, CA-755000-01, reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), 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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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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HARRY PERCY ASHE

Harry Ashe, Ca. Early-Mid 1940s (Source: Ranaldi Family)
Harry Ashe, Ca. Early-Mid 1940s (Source: Ranaldi Family)

Harry Ashe was born February 18, 1897. He was educated in public schools in Atlanta, GA and attended Georgia Tech studying aeronautics. It is not clear if he graduated, since he enlisted in the Army during 1917. Photograph, right, from the biography page of Register pilot Dick Ranaldi.

Ashe learned to fly in the Army at Mineola, L.I., NY during WWI. He was commissioned a lieutenant in 1917 after completing courses at Kelly and Brooks Fields. He was assigned as an instructor during 1918-19 at Mather Field, Sacramento, CA. Ashe resigned from the military in 1919 and went to work in real estate and general sales through 1927. He then became identified with air transportation and flight instruction.

For a number of years, Ashe was personal pilot for former Secretary of the Treasury William Gibbs McAdoo (who was ardently "dry" during Prohibition, and would become senator [D] from California, 1933-1938). In that capacity, Ashe flew McAdoo more than 140,000 miles across the U.S. and to Cuba. McAdoo was a dynamo in his flying, work and relationships.

Ashe landed once at Tucson, Tuesday, November 24, 1931. He carried two passengers, Ellen McAdoo (McAdoo's 16-year old daughter and granddaughter of Woodrow Wilson, see article below) and Corbin Smith. I could find no information about passenger Smith. Does anyone KNOW anything about him? They arrived from El Paso, TX westbound for Los Angeles, CA. Although Ashe didn't identify it, the airplane they were flying was probably McAdoo's Lockheed Vega Executive. His flight operations were based out of the Trans America Building, Los Angeles, CA.

In one of his cross-country trips, Ashe and W.G. McAdoo stopped briefly in St. Louis, MO as reported in the Jefferson City (MO) Post-Tribune of October 15, 1930, below, left. Indeed, on October 14-15, 1930 he flew McAdoo and his secretary in his Lockheed Vega (NC309H named the "Blue Streak") from coast to coast in 16 hours and 11 minutes, cruising at normal engine and altitude parameters and making no attempt to set a record (in September, 1931, he made the same flight in 15 hours and 35 minutes). Interestingly, this same newspaper reported an improvement in gangster "Legs" Diamond's health after he was shot five times at his hotel room.

Jefferson City (MO) Post-Tribune, October 15, 1930 (Source: Gerow)
Jefferson City (MO) Post-Tribune, October 15, 1930 (Source: Gerow)

 

Lima (OH) Sunday News, October 26, 1930 (Source: Gerow)
Lima (OH) Sunday News, Octobr 26, 1930 (Source: Gerow)

 

 

At right, after the completion of this trip, Ashe and McAdoo began their return to Los Angeles as captured in an article, right, from the Lima (OH) Sunday News of October 26, 1930.

 



San Antonio (TX) Express
, October 30, 1930
(Source: Gerow)
San Antonio (TX) Express, October 30, 1930 (Source: Gerow)

 

 

 

At left, another article from the San Antonio (TX) Express,dated October 30, 1930, which reports the 16:11 flight cited above. According to an article in the Bradford (PA) Era of May 20, 1931, McAdoo and Ashe had made seven such cross-continent flights to-date. Having run for president in 1924, McAdoo was quoted in the article as saying about flying, "Yes, one can go to Washington in an airplane much faster than by way of the electoral college."

 

 

If you want to learn more about McAdoo's influence on aviation during the Golden Age, please direct your browser to the link. There you will find a Ph.D. thesis (title: WILLIAM GIBBS McADOO: THE LAST PROGRESSIVE [1863-1941]) written about McAdoo. Look at pp. 292ff.

 

 

Below, from the September 11, 1932 Helena (MT) Independent, is an article citing McAdoo's California senate race. This article captures not only a sweeping overview of McAdoo's careers, but also shows vignettes of passenger Ellen McAdoo and the airplane NC309H. Please invoke your browser's zoom capability for easier reading.

 

 

 

McAdoo Senate Race, September 11, 1932, Helena (MT) Independent (Source: Gerow)
McAdoo Senate Race, September 11, 1932, Helena (MT) Independent (Source: Gerow)

Although this page partially reads like a biography of McAdoo, it is really a reflection of Ashe, since the 140,000 miles they flew together formed a great portion of Ashe's own career, and McAdoo wouldn't have done the things he did without Ashe carrying him from venue to venue.

Ashe shows up briefly and cryptically in the business of another Register pilot, Elmer McLeod. Below is a page from one of McLeod's pilot log books for July, 1936. For his flight on July 26th, McLeod noted in his log "Harry Ashe" on the same line as his flight with NC14945 (look near the center of the image). The airplane was a Lockheed 10A Electra, S/N 1032, which was owned by Max C. Fleishmann. It was impressed by the Army during 1942 (as USAAC 42-32535) and was destroyed by accident in 1944. To see all of McLeod's pilot log books and other memorabilia from his life, please direct your browser to the Elmer C. McLeod Photograph and Document Collection on www.dmairfield.org.

Elmer McLeod Pilot Log Book, July, 1936 (Source: Kalina)
Elmer McLeod Pilot Log Book, July, 1936 (Source: Kalina)

I do not know when Ashe left McAdoo's employ (mid-30s?), but after he left we find Ashe as the personal pilot for millionaire philanthropist Max C. Fleischmann (1877-1951). Fleischmann owned Fleischmann's Yeast, Fleischmann Laboratories, and was a principal stockholder in General Foods. Fleischmann's Yeast Company was a commercial and consumer manufacturer of bread and other yeasts (your Webmaster lived near one of his yeast manufacturing plants as a boy and recalls the smell of bread yeast in the air). His company not only made yeast, but also Fleischmann's margarine and Fleischmann's gin. Below, courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum (SDAM) is his Lockheed.

Lockheed 10A Electra, S/N 1032, Date & Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)
Lockheed 10A Electra, S/N 1032, Date & Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)

Fleischmann was himself an early aviator (and Early Bird) experienced in ballooning, parachuting and fixed-wing airplanes. As a young man, Fleischmann made several jumps with the Stevens manually operated safety pack parachute. He found his experiences memorable and he was a major sponsor of the Leo Stevens Memorial Fund founded in 1945. The Fund annually gives the Leo Stevens Award as the major parachuting award in the United States.

I'm at a loss to find any significant flying events shared by Ashe, the Electra and Fleischmann. Nor do I know the inclusive dates of their business relationship. We know the airplane he owned and flew, but not where or when or why. As well, I don't know anything about Ashe's later life, marriage, children, hobbies, etc. Does anyone KNOW?

Harry Ashe is signed in three Registers. Besides his single appearance here, he appears five times in the Clover Field Register, Santa Monica, CA and at least nine times in the Grand Central Air Terminal Register. Most of his flights were in NC309H.

Ashe was named in Fleischmann’s will to receive $30,000, which in 1951 was a tidy sum. Harry Ashe held Transport License #3599. He died February 18, 1974 at age 77.

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Dossier 2.2.20

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 07/08/11 REVISED: 01/16/12, 11/19/15

 
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I'm looking for photographs of pilot Ashe and his airplane to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.
Thanks to Mike Gerow for sharing numerous news articles and for color commentary on Ashe and Fleischmann.
 
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