Pilot Eyes

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OTHER RESOURCES

There is no biographical file for pilot Bond 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.

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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. Or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author.

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The following references are cited throughout the text at right:

Alley, Bill. “Pearson Field: Pioneering Aviation in Vancouver and Portland.” Arcadia Publishing, San Francisco, 2006. ISBN 0-7385-3129-4. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 2006921511.

Newspaper Archive: www.newspaperarchive.com

Pearson Field Air Museum, Vancouver, Washington: www.pearsonairmuseum.org.

Walker, Jon. “A Century Airborne: Air Trails of Pearson Airpark.” Rose Wind, Vancouver, WA, 1994. ISBN 0-9631232-2-X.

Details about some of these aircraft types cited on this page that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield can be found in this book.

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The Historical Marker Database Web site has linked to the information on this page.

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Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register
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CARLTON FOSTER BOND

1893-1980

Captain C.F. Bond, U.S. Army Air Corps, was junior among the three officers who landed their single-seat Boeing P-26 “Peashooters” at Davis-Monthan Airfield shortly after noon on May 15, 1935. Departing Tucson the same day, the trio was in transit from March Field, Riverside, California, to El Paso, Texas (probably Biggs Field), yet another stop along the way to their final destination of Shreveport, Louisiana. Bond and his companions left no clues in the Register as to the purpose of their trip, which may have simply been an aircraft familiarization/delivery flight from Boeing’s Seattle factory to a squadron billet at Barksdale Field (Note 1, see notes section, below).

1st Lt. C.F. Bond, C.O. of the 321st Observation Squadron (Reserve), Pearson Field, Vancouver, WA, 1929-33. As Captain, he reprised his role as airfield commander in 1938-40. Photo Pearson Air Museum (Alley, P.58)
1Lt. C.F. Bond, C.O. of the 321st Observation Squadron (Reserve), Pearson Field, Vancouver, WA, 1929-33.

 

Morning Oregonian, Wednesday, June 12, 1935 (Source: Woodling)
Morning Oregonian, Wednesday, June 12, 1935 (Source: Woodling)

His flight through Tucson was, indeed, a ferry flight as documented in the Morning Oregonian of Wednesday June 12, 1935 (right). A series of P-26 aircraft were modified with wing flaps to improve low speed handling during landing. They were in the process of being disbursed from the factory to their duty stations.

Another brief article supporting the ferry appeared in the Air Corps Newsletter for January-July, 1935, below.

Air Corps Newsletter, January-July, 1935 (Source: Woodling)

Barksdale Field, La., May 9th. (1935)
The P-26 airplanes now on hand are being equipped with flaps by the Boeing factory at Boeing Field, Seattle, Wash. Ten are now at the factory and three more are being ferried
to replace those now ready for delivery.

The subsequent activities of Capt. C.F. Bond’s companions, Maj. Oliver P. Gothlin (flying 33-50) and Lt. Col. Millard F. Harmon (33-49), are perhaps better known. Bond himself piloted A.C. 33-58, possibly indicating a small production run assigned to the same operational unit. Gothlin, a co-founder of the Order of Daedalians, made three landings at D-M between October 1927 and his last visit, this one, on May 15, 1935. Harmon, later Major General commanding US Army Air Forces South Pacific during WWII, was a D-M “regular”—registering 17 landings between January 1928 and May 15, 1935. For whatever reason, this landing was the final for all three Army fliers to Davis-Monthan Airfield. In the case of Bond, it was his only recorded visit (2). 

Despite being outranked by his traveling companions that hot spring day in 1935, Carlton Foster Bond was no neophyte. Quite well known in the late 1920s through the late 1930s in the Pacific Northwest, Bond held the unique distinction of being the only two-time commanding officer of the Army Air Corps’ Pearson Field in Vancouver, Washington (see the photo gallery below).

Gravitated to Ballooning

News item in The Bridgeport Telegram identified C.F. Bond as an Army back-up pilot in the 1922 Gordon Bennett Cup balloon race in Geneva, Switzerland.
1922 Gordon Bennett Cup balloon race

Born in 1893, Carlton F. Bond joined the Army in 1916 and served in the Mexican Border Campaign. During WWI, Bond graduated in one of the first classes in the aviation section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. During the early 1920s Bond gravitated toward lighter-than-air craft and became a key member of U.S. Army teams competing in important ballooning events in the U.S. and abroad.

An item, left, in the sports section of The Bridgeport Telegram (Connecticut) on June 22, 1922, named Bond as one of three back-up pilots for the American Team in the famed Gordon Bennett Cup race of 1922.

A broader retrospective article, below, from the Sunday Oregonian of July 17, 1932 documents his participation in the Race at Geneva, Switzerland in 1922. The conditions of their disqualification from the race are documented in Bond's own hand on the official Free Baloon Log Sheet.

Sunday Oregonian, July 17, 1932 (Source: Woodling)
Sunday Oregonian, July 17, 1932 (Source: Woodling)

The Elimination Match that Almost Did

More than a year later, the July 4, 1923 edition of The Fresno Bee (Fresno, California) (“Giant Gas Bags Ready for Race; Records Expected”), mentioned Carlton Bond of Aberdeen, South Dakota, in its listing of four two-man teams fielded by the U.S. Army. Lifting off from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at

The July 4, 1923 Fresno Bee named the participants of the National Elimination Race. The lead-off crew listed here, one of the American two-man teams that did enter the 1923 Gordon Bennett Cup, were among 5 people killed in the deadliest race in that event’s history.
1923 Gordon Bennett Cup.

five-minute intervals starting at 4:00 PM, a $1,000 first prize and lesser purses were offered to the teams achieving the greatest distances regardless of duration. A total of 14 balloons—four each Army and Navy, and six civilian—comprised the field. The purpose of the contest was to identify the top three U.S. balloon crews that would enter the Gordon Bennett Cup race in Brussels, Belgium, late that September. Perhaps it was fortunate that Lt. Bond’s team did not make the cut (3).

Weather reports predicted that the balloons would drift in a northeasterly direction from Indianapolis toward the Great Lakes and Canada, however, this is not how events played out. Two weeks later, the July 21, 1923 Wisconsin State Journal reported the harrowing experience of Capt. Charles F. McCullough, pilot, and Lt. C.F. Bond, aide, who were obliged to jettison everything in order to save themselves after their balloon was “crushed flat” at 20,000’ by converging storms near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The intrepid aeronauts managed to land safely in a tree.

Twice C.O. of Pearson Field, Vancouver, Washington

What began as the polo field for Vancouver Barracks evolved, by the mid-1920s, into one of the premier Army Air Corps installations on the West Coast, largely through the efforts of Bond’s second predecessor, Lt. Oakley G. Kelly (4). Renamed Pearson Field in 1925 by order of the War Department (5), the location has seen few extended lulls in aerial activity since balloonist Lincoln Beachey first landed there on September 19, 1905. Today, some 102 years later, Pearson Airpark functions as an active municipal airport (identifier: VUO), although military operations have long since departed (6).

From 1929-33, Pearson Field operated under the command of 1st Lt. C.F. Bond, who (at least initially) also commanded the 321st Observation Squadron. Aircraft flown at one time or another during this period appear to be a mixed bag of Curtiss JN-4s, DeHavilland DH-4s and Consolidated PT-1s. By 1930, more modern equipment joined squadron operations, including PT-3As, Douglas O-2H and Douglas O-38 aircraft. Details about some of these aircraft types that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield can be found in this book.

Lt. Bond’s first duty assignment at Pearson was marked by rapid expansion of commercial operations on the field, accompanied by much political intrigue between Vancouver, Washington and its neighbor across the Columbia River, Portland, Oregon. The fight was over the future of commercial aviation operations in the area. Around this time the Chamber of Commerce Field, as Pearson’s civilian sector was called, began to live on borrowed time. Unable to compete with big money interests bent on luring airmail contracts and other lucrative businesses to Portland’s new Swan Island Airport, Pearson’s civilian field started to lose its previous stature as the region’s premier commercial airfield.

Meanwhile, military operations continued. Bond’s first stint as airfield C.O. saw the unscheduled visit of the Land of the Soviets. Suffering a malfunctioning oil pump on its port engine, the giant ANT-4 all- metal monoplane landed at Pearson on October 18, 1929. Pearson Field mechanics repaired the pump, and the ship departed the next day for San Francisco, before winging east to complete its historic Moscow-to-New York flight.

In 1931 the 321st took to the skies in search of Russell Cunningham, an airmail pilot who went down in southern Oregon due to icing. Lt. Bond led the aerial search for the man, who fortunately hiked his way out. Flying a Douglas O-2H, Bond led another search later that month for a missing Varney Airlines pilot, Walter Case, who proved not so lucky. In February and March, Bond flew in supplies to a U.S. Geodetical Survey team who had snowshoed into the mountains to study the Columbia River and its tributaries. These activities were typical of the type of flying required of Bond and the 321st in their role as an Army reserve squadron.    

Toward the end of Bond’s first stint as airfield commander, the 321st passed to an officer two ranks superior to Lt. Bond, Maj. Howard French. (See photo below.). The reason for this is not given, although it is possible that Bond’s increased work load due to expanded civilian and military activity at Pearson necessitated the move.

Not much is written of Carlton Bond’s activities after his 1929-33 stint at Pearson. The Davis-Monthan Airfield register reveals one clue: Bond himself indicated that in May 1935 Barksdale Field in Shreveport, Louisiana, was his home field. However, after a four-year absence, Carlton Bond, now a Captain, returned in 1938 to Pearson Field to again take command, a post that lasted until 1940 (7).  

Salina Journal, December 19, 1942 (Source: Woodling)
Salina Journal, December 19, 1942 (Source: Woodling)

 

A small, "looking back 20 years" article, left, that appeared in the Salina Journal of Wednesday, December 19, 1962, places Bond as commanding officer of the Smoky Hill Field facility in 1942.

Afterword

The sources listed below provide few details about Carlton Bond’s 40 years of post-Pearson activity. It is noted that he served at various posts around the world and retired from the U.S. Air Force with the rank of Colonel on January 5, 1948 (a few months before the retirement of Col. Oakley G. Kelly). Col. Carlton Bond’s name pops up in connection with a 1965 Odd Fellow’s convention in Newport, Rhode Island, but at some point he returned to the Pacific Northwest and lived in Vancouver until he died on February 5, 1980. Far from complete, the story of C.F. Bond will be updated as further information surfaces, particularly regarding his WWII service and subsequent 32 years of retirement following 32 years of active military duty (8).

For Further Investigation: Other Pearson Field / Davis-Monthan Connections

Several other pilots in some way associated with Pearson Field are found among the signers of the Davis-Monthan Airfield register. In addition to Oakley G. Kelley, these include Jimmy Doolittle, John Gilbert “Tex” Rankin and Vance Breese. For further information about these individuals and their activities, readers are encouraged to explore the sources and links below.

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Notes

1. Manufactured by the Boeing Airplane Co. of Seattle, WA, the P-26 was the Army’s first all-metal mono-plane fighter. P-26 operations at Davis-Monthan Airfield were common enough in the mid-1930s that airfield manager Dewey Simpson thoughtfully stored spare P-26 wings in the rafters of the (1932) hangar as a hedge against the hot little ship’s tendency to ground loop because of its narrow-track landing gear. (Source).  

2. All information relating to these three officers and their flight through Tucson is searchable by name, aircraft type and aircraft number from the homepage of the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register website.

3. The Gordon Bennett Cup race, ballooning’s most prestigious event, was first held in 1906. The 1923 Brussels event was the bloodiest ever held. A portion of the event appears to have survived on 87’ of film, summarized as: “Five out of 15 balloons met with disaster after starting from Brussels...Mrs J. Dunville’s Banshee III (British) descended in safety...at the outset the American Army Balloon collided with a Belgian...the American pilots, Lt. Olmstead and Lt. Choplaw, cleared the Belgian, but were later killed at Niestelrode (Holland). The Gordon Bennett balloon race at Brussels, during which five were killed in a storm, was filmed by Yates.” ( Source).
 
4. Lt. Oakley G. Kelly, famed non-stop transcontinental flyer, was an able commander whose visionary administration was instrumental in developing Pearson Field into one of the West Coast’s leading Army and civilian facilities. Kelly, who commanded the 321st Observation Squadron at Pearson from 1924-28, tirelessly promoted aviation in the civilian sector. Under Kelly’s tenure as field commander, commercial growth burgeoned on the field.

Kelly’s successor, Bond’s immediate predecessor, was Capt. Aubrey I. Eagle, who commanded the field from 1928-29. Born in 1879 in Texas, Eagle appears in a number of news accounts in the 1920s. In August 1922, he is in Dayton, OH on the eve of testing his own “flivver” design, intended to provide affordable air transportation to Everyman. Other accounts have Eagle posted to Bolling Field (Dec. 1923), San Antonio from the Philippines (Oct. 1926) Crissy Field (Nov. 1927) and Langley Field from Ft. Leavenworth (May 1929). In July 1927, Eagle and Capt. Wm. P. Erwin tossed their hats into the ring to fly the first mainland US-to-Manila flight. In March 1929, just after his Pearson tour, Eagle was one of the Portland, OR “Quiet Birdmen” personally invited to attend the wedding of Charles Lindbergh. In July 1953, Eagle, 73, fell out of a rowboat on the Klamath River in northern California and drowned. The 7/29/53 Fresno Bee item announcing his death said Eagle was reputed to be the first man to talk by radio from an airplane to the ground. It also revealed that Eagle Field, a WWII primary training field near Dos Palos, Calif., was named in his honor. See this link.     

5. Lt. Alexander Pearson, Jr., stellar pilot and record holder whom fellow McCook Field test pilot Jimmy Doolittle held in utmost regard, was memorialized by the War Department’s General Order No. 9 on May 7, 1925. The order officially redesignated “the landing field at Vancouver Barracks, Washington” as Pearson Field in honor of Pearson who was killed at Fairfield, Ohio the year before during a practice flight of the Curtiss R-8 racer for the 1924 Pulitzer Trophy Race. Pearson, a Kansas native and University of Oregon graduate, never operated on the field that bore his name, but his flying younger brother, Lt. William Pearson, did serve there. Lt. William Pearson may well be the enigmatic “Lt. Pearson” who signed the Davis-Monthan Register on February 20, 1932, one of seven Army P-12 pilots on a round-trip flight from March Field, Riverside, California. Oakley Kelly’s transcontinental partner, John Macready, was another member of that small, exclusive club of McCook Field test pilots during the time Pearson and Doolittle were there.   

6. Pearson Field hosted military operations from about 1920-21 until WWII, when the 321st Observation Squadron, a reserve outfit, moved to larger quarters. In 1949, the Army deeded its portion of the field to the City of Vancouver, which then named it Pearson Airpark. Over the years, Pearson was the scene of many notable “firsts,” including the landing of the nation’s first interstate airmail flight in 1912 and the conclusion of the world’s first transpolar flight, by the Soviet ANT-25, in 1937. Tex Rankin’s popular flying school operated on field from 1924-26 and produced several prominent aviatrixes, including Dorothy Hester and Edith Foltz. Pacific Air Transport, another early Pearson-based operation, inaugurated the first West Coast air mail service between Seattle and Los Angeles on Sept. 15, 1926.

7. In 1941, the National Guard Board authorized the 321st’s successor, the Oregon-based 123rd Observation Squadron. On the eve of WWII, the squadron was federally activated under different unit designations flying the O-47, BC-1A and later the F-5 photo version of the Lockheed P-38 in the CBI and ETO. Redesignated after the war as the 123rd Fighter Squadron, the unit, which became the 142nd Fighter Interceptor Group during its Korean War service, today flies F-15A/Bs as the Oregon Air National Guard’s 142nd Fighter Wing (Source).

8.Anyone having knowledge of C.F. Bond’s whereabouts and activities during his inter-Pearson years (1934-37) and his post-Pearson period (1940-80) is requested to please use this FORM to contact us . 

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Photo Gallery

Neatly arrayed 20th Pursuit Group P-12s at Pearson Field, June 1931. Pearson was a much-used stopping-off point for aircraft in transit. The 20th Pursuit Group, fresh from the Air Corps’ massive national exercise at Dayton, Ohio in May 1931, stopped at Pearson on its way home to Mather Field, Sacramento, California. Compare main buildings in this photo with recent color photo below. (source: Walker). Photo: Pearson Air Museum (Alley, P.53)
P-12s at Pearson Field, June 1931.

 

Officers of the 321st Observation Squadron (Organized Reserve) pose with their Douglas O-38s during 1933 summer maneuvers. Squadron C.O. was Maj. Howard French (2nd from left, back row). Pearson Field base commander was 1Lt. Carlton F. Bond (4th from right, back row). Bond’s first tour as airfield C.O. ended in August 1933 (Source: Walker), shortly after this photo was taken. Photo: Clark County Historical Museum, P.0008.004.9. (Alley, P.64)
Officers of the 321st Observation Squadron

 

Pearson Field-based Douglas O-38s of the 321st Observation Squadron over Mt. Hood, Oregon. Photo, if correctly dated as 1928, was taken during Capt. Aubrey I. Eagle’s command. Photo: Pearson Air Museum (Alley, P.60)
Pearson Field-based Douglas O-38s of the 321st Observation Squadron over Mt. Hood, Oregon.

 

Pearson Field, July 2007. At far left is the former spruce mill office refurbished by Lt. Carlton Bond as the HQ of the 321st Observation Squadron. Center, the rebuilt main hanger, destroyed by fire in 1976, houses the main part of the Pearson Air Museum. Built in 1918, the original historic hangar, right, which claims to be the second oldest wooden hangar in the U.S., briefly housed Italian POWs during WWII. Peeking through the haze, some 50 miles distant (upper right), is Mt. Hood, Oregon—named in 1792 for Admiral Samuel Hood, 1st Viscount Hood, also the namesake of HMS Hood, sunk in 1941 by the German battleship Bismarck.
Pearson Field, July 2007.

 

¾ life-size bronze of C.F. Bond “honoring aviation pioneers” welcomes visitors to the Pearson Field Air Museum, Vancouver, Washington. R.W. Bane sculpture. Color photos by M. Gerow.
C.F. Bond “honoring aviation pioneers”

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I have very little information regarding Bond's service during WWII. Below, received from a site visitor whose grandfather served with Bond during WWII, a commendation letter to the grandfather signed by Bond. "APO 241" was located at the Kwajalien Atoll, in the Marshall Islands in the South Pacific in 1944. The commendation is self-explanatory, and rewards a job well done with a recommendation for promotion.

Commendation, October 31, 1944, Signed by Bond (Source: Site Visitor)
Commendation, October 31, 1944, Signed by Bond (Source: Site Visitor)

If you have further information regarding Bond's WWII service and beyond, please let me KNOW.

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 08/17/07 REVISED: 03/04/13, 03/12/13

 
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CREDIT

Research, photography and writing for this page was performed by Guest Editor at dmairfield.org, Mike Gerow. Warm thanks to Mike for his efforts on behalf of Register pilot Carlton Bond.

Mr. Gerow has had a major, continuing presence on this Web site. You may see his other contributions here and here.

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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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