Lawrence A. Bickford landed once at Tucson, Sunday, July 29, 1934, as a passenger with pilot Harvey Parks. They were based at Parks Airport, East St. Louis, IL. Please direct your browser to Harvey Parks' link for details about their airplane and itinerary.
Bickford was also a pilot, who later was employed by Pan American-Grace Airways (Panagra). Three years after he visited us at Tucson he was killed in a crash of a Panagra Sikorsky S-43 near the Canal Zone (see below) on August 2, 1937. The other crew member and eleven passengers were also killed. The Panagra airplane, an amphibious model able to land on water and on land, was of U.S. registry, NC15065 (not a Register airplane). Details of the flight are available in the official report, which is available online at the Department of Transportation Library. You may download a copy of the report at this link (PDF 1.5Mb); missing page 10. As happens many times in our Registers, the life of one pilot moves to impact those of others. Such is the case of Parks Airport Register pilot Garnett Q. Caldwell. He was a coincident passenger on Bickford's flight and was killed when the Sikorsky crashed. Details of Caldwell's life are at his link.
The official accident report is dry reading, but here are the top lines. The airplane departed Guayaquil, Ecuador at 11:05AM headed north to Cristobal, Canal Zone, with an estimated time of arrival of 7:10PM. Bickford was the co-pilot on the flight, with pilot in command, and Panagra Chief Pilot, Stephen Dunn. The accident report described Bickford as follows: "Mr. Bickford held Department of Commerce Transport License No. 23586 and co-pilot rating, Department of Commerce Engine Mechanics License No. 12653 and Federal Communications Commission Radio License T-3-653. He had never received formal instrument or night flying instruction from Panagra."
Portsmouth (NH) Herald & Times, August 4, 1937 (Source: Woodling)
The accident took place about 10 miles off-shore of Cristobal as pilot Dunn spiraled down for a water landing in what was described as marginal weather. The time was early evening, when, during the summer, clouds and rain are common.
The U.S. Navy mounted a search party involving aircraft, destroyers and submarines. Parts of the airplane were discovered about 12 hours later scattered over an area of 15-20 square miles (due to currents). Other than a small amount of scorched fabric, no indication of equipment failure was evident. No victims were found.
The passengers on the flight were listed in the accident report as Thomas Wakely, Garnett Q. Caldwell (see his link, above), Rex Martin, Amy Levering, Jessie Mary Levering, James Walker Levering, Oscar F. Miller, Ernest W. Woods, Percy Wallace Kumle, Samuel W. Oliver and Isidor Sousa.
The article, right, from the Portsmouth (NH) Herald & Times, describes the search results. It appeared under the headline, "Find Debris From Wrecked Airplane." Bickford was from Rochester, NH, about 25 miles northwest of Portsmouth.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 12/09/14 REVISED: 05/31/16