Curtiss D-12 Engine Manual, 1929

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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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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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MARJORIE BEIGHTLER

From everything I've been able to review, Marjorie Beightler (pronounced Beet-ler) was not a pilot. She was either a passenger who signed her name in the pilot column of the Register, or had it signed by someone else. Or perhaps she was never in Tucson. Here is the explanation.

First, some background. Marjorie was the daughter of U.S. Army officer Robert S. Beightler (1892-1978) who built and maintained an enviable career in the military, stretching from the Mexican Border War to after WWII. He rose through the ranks to Major General. Please direct your browser to the link to learn about his career as well as find a small amount of information about his family. Based on the link, it appears Marjorie was probably born during 1918, which would make her somewhere near 12-years old when she was in Tucson allegedly flying the powerful Curtiss O-1, 28-463 (powered by the Curtiss D-12 engine, upper left).

Further, the Register lists Marjorie signed in the pilot column on Tuesday, March 23, 1930. Interestingly, that airplane number, 28-463, is non-existent.  According to Joe Baugher's site, the U.S. never had an airplane identified by such a number.  The Army registration numbers for 1928 stopped at 28-403.

So what we have is a young girl who was surely not a pilot, and an airplane that never was. And a father and mother who at the time would have been extremely permissive to let their 12-year old daughter participate in a cross-country flight in an open-cockpit military biplane in 1930 (but, see below).

From the Register, the fact that she noted her home base as Columbus, OH is the only entry that makes sense, because her family was living there about that time (1930). Otherwise, her notation is unique among the other traffic that landed near the same time: none shared the same origin; none arrived or departed at near the same time.  This suggests she was not a passenger in a flight of multiple military aircraft moving cross-country.

We might be seeing a prank by a young Army flyer.  If he was carrying the young Marjorie, which is doubtful, she gave her a treat by listing her as pilot and leaving himself anonymous to the ages.  If Marjorie really wasn't in Tucson, the pilot may have known her father and was playing a prank on HIM by listing his daughter in a far away airfield log, headed for "Hollywood, CA," for someone like us to ponder and wonder about 80-odd years hence.

This is what I think I know.  If someone out there has additional information that will explain why her name is in the Register, please let me KNOW. I hope I find out she was in Tucson, and that her parents did arrange her "mission." What a grand tale to tell her children!

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As happens many times, it doesn't take long for pieces of a puzzle to begin forming a picture. Thanks to site visitor Bob Woodling for sharing the following on January 4, 2012. The good news is we have a little more information about Marjorie and Tucson. The bad news is we'll never be able to ask Marjorie about her Tuesday at the Airfield. From The Orange County (CA) Register, June 22, 2004 we learn that, "Marjorie Beightler Taylor 86, of Fullerton, a homemaker, died June 11, 2004, of heart disease. Services: 3:15 p.m. July 9, Friends Community Church, Brea." She was survived by daughter, Melinda; son, Richard III; four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

We also find a possible connection of Marjorie with Tucson. From "Minuteman: The Military Career of General Robert S. Beightler" we learn:

"Beightler's business success was counterbalanced by his deteriorating relationship with his wife. Over the years a number of differences had developed between the two, most relating to money. Beightler was somewhat of a tightwad, while Anne tended to spend. In 1931 they unofficially separated when Anne took their children to Tucson, Arizona, to live because of Bob Jr.'s asthma. Beightler traveled to Tucson on several occasions to visit his family and to attempt a reconciliation with Anne. But they were unable to patch up their differences, and in 1933 they divorced. They remained amicable, however, and both took an active role in their children's upbringing and education."

It's clear from above, during the early 1930s the Beightler family frequented Tucson. There were elements of the Beightlers' marital unrest overlain with the health of one of their children that drove them west from Columbus. Regarding Marjorie's presence in the Register, we could envision her father hopping a ride to Tucson and, given his rank, being able to tour his family around any of the military aircraft that happened to be on the Airfield that Tuesday.

And this. Below is Marjorie's wedding announcement from the Marysville, OH Evening Tribune of May 19, 1941.

The Evening Tribune, Marysville, OH, May 19, 1941 (Source: Woodling)
The Evening Tribune, Marysville, OH, May 19, 1941 (Source: Woodling)

We learn from the article, besides the standard description of gown fabrics and flowers, that Marjorie's mother was remarried to Charles Benjamin Snead of Texas, and that Marjorie enjoyed a private secondary school and university education at Ohio Wesleyan. It appears, too, that her brother recovered from his asthma, because he was enrolled at West Point.

As cited above, Marjorie Beightler Taylor died June 11, 2004 of heart disease at age 86 in Santa Ana, CA. With her passing she joins a list of other Register signers who lived to see the 21st century. Among them are John Miller, Robert Buck, Bill Piper, Jr., West Moreau, Busch Voigtsand Bobbi Trout. If you know of any others still living, please let me KNOW as quickly as possible. We haven't much time.

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 12/31/11 REVISED: 01/04/12

 
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Thanks to Curtis Taft for help with identifying Marjorie Beightler.

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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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