Pilot Eyes

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OTHER RESOURCES

Some of this information comes from the biographical file for pilot Babb, CB-000830-01, 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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Military Aircraft of the Davis Monthan Register, 1925-1936 is available at the link. This book describes and illustrates with black & white photographs 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 as well as extensive listings of all the pilots and airplanes. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-2-5.

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The thumbnail images at the bottom of this page are used with permission from the archives of the San Diego Aerospace Museum

Each thumbnail has a database number, which you can use when you contact the Museum if you would like to have a full-sized, higher quality image sent directly to you. 

See the Museum’s ARCHIVES listings online to understand the scope of their holdings, and the procedures for acquiring prints.

The right-hand image shows Babb, right, with Wiley Post.

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The correspondence between Babb and Paul Richter was provided by Ruth Richter-Holden.

Image of Babb with Howard Hughes from R.S. Allen's "Revolution in the Sky". 1988 (revised). Orion Books. New York. p. 174.

To see another image Charles Babb, please follow this link to the Klein Archive of Aviation Photographs.

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CHARLES HARDING BABB

Charles Babb, Date Unknown (Source: Heins)
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.

Babb signed 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.

Howard Hughes-Charles Babb

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 Post, and 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 international "holding company," 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 S-38."

Born in Eugene, Oregon (date unknown), Babb died of a heart attack November 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 dollars.

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 rumor?

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)
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)
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.

Charles Babb x2

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Dossier 2.1.38

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

 
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I need images of pilot Babb. I would also like additional information about his businesses and activities. Please use this FORM for contact.

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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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