Charles Babb, Date Unknown (Source: Heins)
During the 1930s, Charles H. Babb was a well-known used
aircraft salesman in business at Grand Central Airport,
Glendale, CA. Image, right, shared by Andy Heins.
the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register as a military pilot once
on January 27, 1926. He stayed overnight, departing the next
morning at 8:30. He carried as passenger one Sgt. Butler.
They flew in aircraft number 25-345, a Douglas O-2. They
listed as their home base Rantoul, IL, and they arrived from
San Diego, CA eastbound back to Rantoul.
He became a significant member of the international flying
network of the era. He did business
as Babb International Aircraft Brokerage, 1140 Airway (I've also seen 1007 Airway), Glendale,
CA, and later as Charles H. Babb Co. with offices on the
east coast as well.
As a major sales/brokerage firm, many of the airplanes that
passed through Tucson passed through his hands on their way
to their owners, either as new or used aircraft (for example, NC2875).
Later, he supplied aircraft for the Spanish Civil War.
He was friendly with George
Westinghouse. He knew
Paul Richter, and during
Richter's split with TWA in the late 40s, this cordial exchange
of letters occurred.
He posed with the camera-shy Howard Hughes, left, in front
of a Lockheed Vega, date unknown.
Babb's company was at one time incorporated in Arizona with
offices in many other major U.S. cities as well as in Europe
and Latin America. Aircraft flown by many famous aviators
(including Register pilots Howard Hughes (above), Amelia Earhart and Wiley
Francisco Sarabia) were purchased from Babb. Some sources
list him as Charles H. Babb and others as Charles E. Babb.
The former is correct.
Other than magazine articles, not much has been formally
published about him and his Web presence is sparse. However,
as of early 2007, this link was
established at the San Diego Aerospace Museum featuring a new
collection of Babb's business and family history, images and
artifacts donated by Babb's son.
Once an Air Corps pilot, Babb used his inside
contacts to build his aircraft brokerage empire based mainly
on the acquisition and sale of surplus military airplanes.
After WWII ended, Babb built his organization into a major
selling aircraft to airlines and governments worldwide.
The American Aviation Daily, in 1948, published Babb's quest
for older aircraft to build a collection to be used for exhibition
purposes. He had acquired a 1912 Curtiss Pusher, and a de
Havilland once used for passenger work. He was still looking
for, "...a razorback Fairchild of the type flown by
Cy Caldwell for Pan American on its first route, and a Sikorsky
Born in Eugene, Oregon (date unknown), Babb died of a heart
15, 1952 at the age of 53. A couple of other
articles say the Babb Co. was purchased by the Atlas
Corporation in October of 1952. It was later sold to Linden
(of Linden Trucking and Air Freight) in 1957 for $10 million
There is rumor that Babb
purchased the tooling, spares and rights of manufacture for
the Stinson L-5 Sentinel some time in the early 1950's when
the military started phasing out that aircraft. Can anyone substantiate
or defeat this
Below, courtesy of Tim Kalina, is an artifact that is probably related to Babb's business. It is a holiday greeting card probably sent to clients.
Holiday Card, Front, Charles Babb, Date Unknown (Source: Kalina)
Mr. Kalina says about a possible date for his image, " I'd reckon the late 1930s, judging by the paint scheme on the DC-3. The twin stripes on the tail are what the TWA DC-3s carried and these entered service in late 1937 or early 1938."
Note the deckled edge. Inside the card...
Holiday Card, Inside, Charles Babb, Date Unknown (Source: Kalina)
Thumbnails of Babb from the SDAM (cited, left sidebar). He poses with Wiley Post at right.
UPLOADED: 02/21/06 REVISED: 03/01/06, 03/09/06, 10/08/06,
03/04/07, 09/30/07, 08/24/11, 09/21/14