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

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OTHER BOOKS FOR YOU

This link leads you to a book that 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.

"Art Goebel's Own Story" by Art Goebel (edited by G.W. Hyatt) is written in language that expands for us his life as a Golden Age aviation entrepreneur, who used his aviation exploits to build a business around his passion.  Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author.

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Surprisingly, there is no biographical file for pilot Bragunier in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC.

Some information about the military aircraft pictured on this page is from Joe Baugher's excellent database.

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CLARENCE "ACE" BRAGUNIER

QUIET COMPETENCE AND THE END OF THE FAMILY LINE

Clarence "Ace" Bragunier (Source: Bragunier Family)
Clarence "Ace" Bragunier

Ace was born Clarence Bragunier on May 20, 1902. His father was Parker Bragunier, born in Indianapolis, IN. His mother was Florence Wheeler, born Des Moines, IA. His birth certificate shows he was given no name at birth, but there was a supplemental report of birth dated Feb.25, 1918, where his name is finally on file.

Eventually, he was given the name Ace by his fellow pilots for his exceptional contrbutions to aviation and his flying abilities at the time.

His granddaughter (right sidebar) recalls, "My uncle remembers many times ... discussing planes; drawing sketches at the kitchen table. Ace tended to shy away from the spot lite, although I heard he was very popular."

This classic pilot profile portrait, right, in helmet and goggles is undated, but was probably taken during his movie career for his studio publicity dossier. Most of the photographs shown to us by Ace's granddaughter are straight from family albums. His pilot logs were stored in another granddaughter's garage, recently discovered, and are shared with us in January, 2013

As is my practice generally on this Web site, other than sizing and optimizing the pictures, I have not modified or retouched them in any way. I have preserved the sepia tint, scratches and smudges, as well as the album anchors in the corners of some of them, to maintain a sense of thumbing through an old album.

Clarence "Ace" Bragunier (Source: Bragunier Family)
Clarence "Ace" Bragunier

The family name "Bragunier" is pronounced "Bra"-as in underwear, "gun"-as in firearm, and "yer"-as in lawyer: "bra-GUN-yer". Image, left, is undated, but appears to be contemporary with the one above.

I have arranged the family photographs and documents in logical subheadings, below, consisting of:

EARLY PORTRAITS,

EARLY BARNSTORMING,

MARRIED LIFE & CHILDREN,

FLIGHT INSTRUCTION, AIR TRANSPORT AND MOTION PICTURE WORK,

PILOT FLIGHT LOG BOOKS 1918-1934,

CLEVELAND NATIONAL AIR RACES OF 1948,

OTHER IMAGES FROM THE BRAGUNIER FAMILY COLLECTION

EPILOGUE.

Please read on for an intimate portrait provided to us by his family of this pioneer aviator and multiple signer of the Davis-Monthan Register. The photographs and documents are some fine Golden Age examples of what it was like to fly during that time of great change and progress in the science and practice of aviation.

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EARLY PORTRAITS

Below, a lush portrait of Ace on the right with an unidentifed teenage boy. The leather puttees and the grimey clothing suggest they showed up unprepared for this relatively formal portrait against the photographer's painted backdrop.

Ace (R) and Unidentifed Boy, Date Unknown (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace (R) and Unidentifed Boy, Date Unknown

 

Early Full Length Portrait of Ace Bragunier (Source: Bragunier Family)
Early, Undated Portrait of Ace Bragunier

Left, Ace in what appears to be an arcade photograph. He is 20 years old in this image (see annotation on image below). Mens' fashions rise and fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Albert (L) and Clarence Bragunier, 1922 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Albert (L) and Clarence Bragunier

 

Image, right, of brother Albert Bragunier (L) with Ace. They are identified by their family as being 22 (Albert) and 20 years old. This would date this image and the one above in 1922.

Albert was born May 18, 1900 and died during July 1981. In his later years, Albert was cared for by Kenneth, Ace's second son (image below). Little is known among the family about Uncle Albert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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EARLY BARNSTORMING

Early in his flying career Ace was a barnstormer and wing walker. Below we see five spectacular images of him with fellow wing walker Wes May. Register pilot Earl Daugherty is in the Jenny's cockpit. These images are dated 1919 and were probably taken in the Long Beach, CA area. Ace and Wes are unidentified as to position on the wings. Please follow Daugherty's link, and the link to Ace's pilot log books at the top of this page, to understand more fully the interesting context of these photographs. Also note in Ace's first log book that he "carried wing walkers" on August 19, 1919. This log entry tells us, as well as walking the wings, he acted as pilot on some of these flights. He had soloed only four months earlier.

Wing Walking, 1919 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Wing Walking, 1919

Notice, no parachutes! Ace was 17 years old in these images.

Wing Walking, 1919 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Wing Walking, 1919

We frequently see images of wing walkers from this era, but few are dated exactly, and even fewer identify the names of the walkers or the pilot.

Wing Walking, 1919 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Wing Walking, 1919

Notice, below, that this feat was not performed at very high altitude. Not that it would have mattered if someone fell off!

Wing Walking, 1919 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Wing Walking, 1919

Below, note the flying wires of the photo ship out of focus and crossed at lower left. Interestingly, notice how the paper for this image is square in the adhesive tab anchors; it was printed crooked!

Wing Walking, 1919 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Wing Walking, 1919

 

Ace Bragunier, Age 18 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace Bragunier, Age 18

 

Image, right, shows Ace in the cockpit of an unidentified airplane. The caption written at the bottom of the photograph says, "Clarence 18 years".

 

 

 

 

 

Below, two images of Ace at age 21. The year would be 1923. The airplane may be one of Earl Daugherty's school craft. Note the absence of tires, wooden propeller with brass-covered leading edge, and what looks to be an OX engine.

Ace Bragunier, Age 21 With "Project" (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace Bragunier, Age 21 With "Project"

Applying paint, probably a nitrate dope, to the wing.

Ace Bragunier, Age 21 Painting Wing (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace Bragunier, Age 21 Painting Wing

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MARRIED LIFE & CHILDREN

Mary Vorhees (Source: Bragunier Family)
Mary Vorhees

Ace married at about age 22. At left, Mary Vorhees, Ace's first wife and mother of their eldest son Robert.

Ace's granddaughter says of this image, "Mary Vorhees died very young. Later Ace married a woman named Alice Bohrer and had Uncle Ken (9/20/1931). Alice also died young, when Ken was 16."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below, Ace and Mary Bragunier in front of what is probably one of Earl Daugherty's airplanes (it is not the same airplane as shown below in the images of Ace with film actress Loretta Young). Mary appears to be coyly shielding her early pregnancy with son Robert. Although undated, this image is probably from early to mid-1925.

Ace With Wife Mary. She Appears to Have Her Hand Over a Pregnancy (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace With Wife Mary. She Appears to Have Her Hand Over a Pregnancy

 

Mary Vorhees (Source: Bragunier Family)
Mary Vorhees

 

Right, another image of Mary Vorhees (L) with baby Robert held by unknown woman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below, Robert age unknown, but probably a year or so old.

Robert Bragunier, Ca. 1-Year Old (Source: Bragunier Family)
Robert Bragunier, ca. 1-Year Old

 

Robert Wilbur Bragunier, October 1946 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Robert Wilbur Bragunier

Left, Ace's son Robert Wilbur Bragunier was born October 3, 1925 and died on October 6, 1985.

Robert's middle name was taken after Wilbur Wright. Robert fibbed to the Navy to join at age 16, the day after Pearl Harbor.

Other images of Robert at various ages are below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenneth Bragunier (Source: Bragunier Family)
Kenneth Bragunier

 

At right, second son Kenneth E. Bragunier was born September 20, 1931 to Ace and second wife Alice Bohrer. Kenneth died September 12, 2007.

Additional images of Kenneth and Robert are below at several ages, as well as at the National Air Races in 1948.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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FLIGHT INSTRUCTION, AIR TRANSPORT AND MOTION PICTURE WORK

The two mages, below, are dated August 1927. The woman is identified as film actress Loretta Young, receiving a preflight lesson from Ace. The heavily pleated togs on Young and the perfect spit curl protruding from under her helmet suggest this was a posed studio shot, rather than a prelude to real aviation. The airplane, Travel Air 2538, never appears in the Davis-Monthan Register. Note the tail skid. Ace would be 25 years old in this image. The circle on the wing above the cockpit area is a pen mark placed there for some unknown reason.

Loretta Young, Left, and Ace Bragunier, August 1927 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Loretta Young, Left, and Ace Bragunier, August 1927

Below, Ace with Loretta Young during cockpit orientation. Note the hole in the windscreen of this well-worn Travel Air. Young was born on January 6, 1913, thus making her a mature-looking 14 years old in these two photographs. During 1927 she appeared in "Naughty But Nice", "Laugh Clown, Laugh" and "Her Wild Oat".

Loretta Young and Ace Bragunier, August 1927 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Loretta Young and Ace Bragunier, August 1927

Ace Bragunier landed at Tucson four times piloting three of the premier aircraft marques of the Golden Age. Relatively speaking, he was a frequent visitor. A couple of his landings were during longer, transcontinental flights.

His first visit was on Wednesday July 25, 1928 at 6:10 PM. He flew NC3648, a Ryan B-1 Brougham. He carried a single passenger indentified as G.E. Flaherty. Based in Los Angeles, CA they were westbound from Detroit, MI to LA. His second visit was a little over a month later on Tuesday September 4, 1928. He flew a Fairchild FC-2, NC8001, carrying five passengers. Please see the links for details around aircraft specifications, passenger names and itineraries for these two flights. See also the link to his pilot log books at the top of this page. Neither of these flights appear in his book #1. The date of his first landing was out of the date range, and the second does not appear, there being a blank in his record between 9/3 and 9/6/28.

Below we see Ace with son Robert in a photograph dated December 1928. At the time of this photograph, Ace is 26 years old, a father, and a Captain for Maddux Airlines, one of the premier Golden Age transport companies. This airplane is probably one of the Ford aircraft logged in his books.

Ace & Robert Bragunier, December 1928 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace & Robert Bragunier, December 1928

In the image above, note the light-weight wicker seats inside the airplane, and the similarity in father-son ears. Baby Robert became our correspondent Laurie Bragunier-Taylor's father. Although not identified on the picture, because of the proximity of dates, this airplane could be the Maddux Ford cited in the text below.

Robert Bragunier, Date Unknown (Source: Bragunier Family)
Robert Bragunier, Date Unknown

At left, son Robert W. Bragunier looking dapper at maybe age 4-5. Notice the wind-up handle for the Victrola extending past Robert's left arm.

Ace's third and fourth landings were in the big Ford 4-AT-A trimotor NC1781. Although no reasons were given for these last two flights, the Ford was owned and operated by Maddux Airlines at the time, so it is fairly certain these were scheduled flights for Maddux.

On Tuesday January 29, 1929 he landed at 12:15PM carrying two passengers southwestbound from Los Angeles. They stayed in Tucson until the following Monday, February 4th, and departed for Douglas, AZ at 10:30AM. No reason was given in the Register for this week-long stay, but his pilot log book #2 (see below) shows the week filled with "advertising" flights.

His final landing at Tucson in this same airplane was five months later on Monday June 10, 1929 at 10:05 AM. He and passenger Henry Jack Rowe were northwestbound from Douglas, AZ to Los Angeles. He wrote in the Remarks column of the Register, "All OK".

Significantly, Ace landed at least 19 times at the Grand Central Air Terminal, Glendale, CA. He flew four airplanes across his 19 landings. Three of them, two Bachs and a Ford, were identified as belonging to Gilpin Airlines, a successful west coast passenger and freight service. Register pilot C.W. "Bill" Gilpin was the owner of the line that ran mostly from Los Angeles to San Diego to Mexico, Douglas and Tucson, AZ.

Below, Ace with two women in front of what appears to be the same Maddux Ford trimotor as above. The woman cut out of the image at right appears to be his wife, Mary. The family believes Mary passed away soon after this image was taken. The other woman is unidentified, but Ace's family speculates that she might be his second wife, Alice Bohrer. Does anyone KNOW?

Ace With Two Women and a Ford (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace With Two Women and a Ford

Ace held transport pilot license T1440, and worked with Howard Hughes on "Hell's Angels" (1930) as one of many pilots. Below, we see him at far right with a group of the other pilots working on the film "Men With Wings" in 1938.

Ace Bragunier, Far Right, 1938 (Source: Wynne)
Ace Bragunier, Far Right, 1938

Pilots shown in the image above are (L to R): Jerry Phillips, Herb White, "Tex" Rankin, William Wellman (film director), Paul Mantz, Earl Gordon, Dick Rinaldi, Frank Clarke and "Ace" Bragunier. This image is from Wynne, page 160.

The four images below are taken at about the same time with the same people, and the same airplane in the background. The airplane is an Alexander Eaglerock (one of the A- models?). Can anyone positively identify the date, people, location and context of these four images?

Ace Bragunier (L) & Unknown Person/Date (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace & Unknown Person/Date

Below, the woman looks a lot like Loretta Young, as in the images above. The gentleman in the scarf maintains a grip on his cigar.

Ace Bragunier (L) & Unknown People/Date (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace & Unknown People/Date

Although the airplane in the images above and below is the same, it has been rotated 90-degrees counterclockwise in the bottom image, and the automobile behind the background (Stinson? Fairchild?) airplane is different. The gentleman with the scarf and cigar poses casually again.

Unknown Person With Biplane (Source: Bragunier Family)
Unknown Person With Biplane

 

Unknown Woman in White, Loretta Young (?) (Source: Bragunier Family)
Unknown Woman in White

At left, note the subterranean fuel bowser under the right wing of the airplane.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below, Ace, center, with four boys. Robert is behind his right shoulder; Kenneth is second from right. The other two boys are unidentified. The one on the left in the sailor hat has bare feet. Ace appears to be holding a clipboard, or perhaps a notepad or logbook.

The text on the serviceman's coverall is unreadable on the original, but the wings logo appears to have an "R" in the center, suggesting he works for Ryan. Date and location unknown.

Ace and Boys (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace and Boys

Image, below, posed for fun. Although several people sometimes joined hands to spin the propeller to start larger engines, it wasn't done with this degree of casualness. Ace is second from right, and the woman on the right looks a lot like the woman with Ace a few images above that his family speculates is his second wife, Alice Bohrer. The other two people are unidentified, as is the date. Location is Curtiss-Wright Flying Service, Los Angeles Airport.

Hand-propping the "Lizzie" (Source: Bragunier Family)
Propping the "Lizzie"

 

Clarence "Ace" Bragunier (Source: Bragunier Family)
Clarence "Ace" Bragunier

At right, Ace in a very candid shot. Date, context and location unknown, but granddaughter Laurie says, "I would like to think this picture is saying he had a sense of humor." It was probably a very hot day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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PILOT FLIGHT LOG BOOKS 1918-1934 (This section added January, 2013)

We have two log books that Ace Bragunier used to record his flights. Like most of the other items on this page, the logs come to us courtesy of Ace's granddaughter, cited in the right sidebar. These logs were found in a family garage, stored in the canvas document holder shown below. This kind of pouch was used to store the logs of at least two other Register pilots, G.E. "Roxy" Ruckstell and Elmer McLeod.

Ace Bragunier, Canvas Log Book Pouch (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace Bragunier, Canvas Log Book Pouch (Source: Bragunier Family)

I left the snap-closure flap open in this scan so you can see the pencil holder "loop" under the flap. His name is stamped on the front. These pouches were commonly given away as advertising premiums by oil companies that sold gasoline for aircraft. In this case, the donor was the Richfield Oil Company. Below, the back of the pouch showing a button tab for fastening it to a flight suit, or to a handy cockpit projection.

Ace Bragunier, Canvas Log Book Pouch (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace Bragunier, Canvas Log Book Pouch (Source: Bragunier Family)

BOOK #1 Unique among the Davis-Monthan pilot artifacts I have worked with to-date, Ace Bragunier's first pilot log book documents his first student flight, as well as his first solo flight. His first log records two blocks of time, from February 2, 1918 to January 14, 1920, and from August 1, 1928 to September 30, 1928. This book is 8.5 x 5.5 inches.

Not surprisingly, we learn early in his log that his primary flight instructor was himself a Register pilot, Earl Daugherty, who operated his business out of the Long Beach airport. Please direct your browser to Daugherty's link to learn about his early influences on west coast aviation, and of his early demise.

Ace Bragunier, Cover of Pilot Log Book #1 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace Bragunier, Cover of Pilot Log Book #1 (Source: Bragunier Family)

You can download a copy of the entire #1 logbook at the link (PDF 2.3Mb). The page numbers referred to in the following descriptions are the page numbers of your PDF copy. I have no other record of his flights from 1920-28, or for the five months between September 30, 1928 to January 25, 1929 missing from log #1 just before it transitions to log #2.

With your PDF open in another window you can see that PDF pages 4-5 document his first flight with instructor Earl Daugherty on February 4, 1818, and his first solo flight over a year later on April 22, 1919. He had logged 512 minutes, or about 8.5 hours flight time, before his first solo. This is about half the time contemporary trainees take to solo. Your Webmaster, for example, soloed in 15 hours.

Less than two months later during June, 1919, Ace started carrying passengers for hire with anbout 220 extra minutes of flight time under his belt. Things were different then. Nowadays pilots must have a commercial rating to carry passengers for hire. This rating can take a couple of hundred hours of air work to earn.

The aircraft he operated during these early minutes of flight were basic, with most of his time logged in a Curtiss Jenny, perhaps the one pictured at the top of this page. Unfortunately, none of the aircraft he flew during these couple of early years was identified by number, not that numbers were required during those years.

Notwithstanding his inexperience, he began training students on July 18, 1919 (page 6). A month later he "carried wing walkers," as stated above, and in August he participated in a stunt exhibition at Seal Beach, CA for 65 minutes.

Page nine documents flights by type of airplane, but no times are logged. Page ten captures the hiatus in his record that ends in 1920 and starts again on May 1, 1928 where he logged a cross-country flight on behalf of Maddux Airlines. This is the first indication of his affiliation with an early airline. The rest of that page documents Maddux flights with an aircraft he identifies as a "Lockheed," NC7218. This registration number is not a Register airplane, and the registration number was never assigned to a Lockheed aircraft of the period. According to two legitimate sources, NC7218 was assigned to a Stinson (SM-1B, Special, 1928, ATC 2-24, 2-224). It is a mystery why Ace would misidentify airplanes that are obviously different.

Regardless, he also logged flights in Fords he identified as "Ford #1," "Ford #5" and "Ford #6." His itineraries with these aircraft were around southern California, with one international excursion on May 3-4th from "L.A." to "ACM." ACM probably refers to Agua Caliente, Mexico. ACM was a popular weekend and vacation getaway for west coast residents, because they could buy liquor there. The United States would be under the influence of Prohibition until December, 1933.

Log page eleven records several flights with Lockheed Vega NC6526 (not a Register airplane). That page is where the date of his second visit at Tucson, September 4, 1928, should appear. It does not. Rather his logged flights for 9/3 and 9/6 bridge that date and don't seem to be related to travel that might have taken him, or the airplane he flew, Fairchild NC8001, through Tucson.

The final page of his first log records flights in the Lockheed and various Fords, with his longest excursions being to San Francisco, CA and Reno, NV.

BOOK #2 The second log book records continuously his flights from January 25, 1929 to June 3, 1934. Below, the cover of his second log. Like the pouch, above, this book was provided by the Richfield Oil Company. His second log includes a record of his flying activities as a "working" pilot. There appear to be very few flights recorded on behalf of his personal recreation. He flew passengers on short "hops" and, besides the entries for Maddux Airlines in log #1, he records flights when he worked for several other early airline companies. Below, the cover of his second log. This book is 6 x 5 inches. Note the mouse nibbles above the "97."

Ace Bragunier, Cover of Pilot Log Book #2 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace Bragunier, Cover of Pilot Log Book #2 (Source: Bragunier Family)

You can download a copy of the entire #2 logbook at the link (PDF 11.5Mb). The page numbers referred to in the following descriptions are the page numbers of your PDF copy.

As you might expect, Bragunier's other landings at Tucson are logged, as well as one or two visits there that he did not record in the Tucson Register. Likewise, given the narrow breadth of the pilot community in those days, a few other pilot names besides Daugherty show up in his logs, as well as a couple of the passengers he carried.

Pages 4-5 record the context of his third visit at Tucson where he remained for the week of January 20-February 4, 1929. We now understand why he was there with the Maddux Ford NC1781. He notes "advertisment" in his remarks, indicating his stay at Tucson was to promote the Maddux business. He offered and logged 10-minute, scenic flights to over 80 people while in Tucson.

Thay type of flying didn't stop after he departed for Douglas, AZ on February 4th. He flew such rides for a Ford dealer and a newspaper, as well as for private parties in Douglas, giving each a 10-minute ride in exchange for money that averaged about $3-5 a head. This amounted to good money for the time, with one 10-minute hop earning the company $57.50 for carrying 12 people.

It was so lucrative that he continued to hop short, paying flights across his log pages 5-12 at Lordsburg, NM, Abilene, Ft. Worth, Sherman, Dallas and Lubbock, TX, Shreveport, LA, to St. Louis, MO and Detroit, MI and Terre Haute, IN and Toledo, OH. It would be June 10, 1929 (log page 12) before he would return to California. June 10th was the date of his final landing at Tucson. He stopped there during his final return leg from Douglas, AZ to Troy, CA. He did not indicate the stop at Tucson in his log (page 12). Sometime during the summer he appears to have left Maddux.

He logged another visit at Tucson August 9, 1929 (page 13) in an unidentified Kreutzer trimotor. This landing is not cited in the Register, however. The Kreutzer could have been NX71E, NC211M, NC243M, NC982M or 243M. All landed at Tucson at one time or another, not flown by Bragunier.

In September (page 14), he writes "Curtiss-Wright" diagonally across the page. This suggests he began working for the Curtiss-Wright Flying Service. He worked for them through July, 1930 before joining New York, Philadelphia and Washington Airways, Inc. (The Ludington Line). He flew Stinson 6000 aircraft for them over routes consisting of Wayne, Camden and Atlantic City, NJ, Washington, DC and New York City, NY. He endured two forced landings with Ludington (page 27).

In December, 1930 (page 29) he logs time with Gilpin Airlines for the first time flying Fairchild NC9114 and Bach NC8069. At the end of 1931 he had accumulated 5,323 hours and 19 minutes of flight time.

On March 4, 1932, he flew the Fokker Super Universal NC3317. This airplane, while not flown to Tucson by Bragunier, holds the distinction of being the most frequent visitor at Tucson, with 95 landings between December, 1927 and March, 1930. If you follow the link to the airplane, you'll discover that Ace's flight with it occurred about two months before it was sold to Register pilot George Westinghouse and about six months before it was used by Register pilot Bobbi Trout for an endurance attempt.

The next few pages of his log are void of any aircraft numbers or employer identification. By the end of June, 1932 (page 46) he had accumulated 5,415 hours and two minutes of flight time. In July, 1932 he began flying sporadically a couple of Gilpin Airlines aircraft. He also began laying out his log with one line per day. When he didn't fly, he left the line blank. Pages 47-51 are laid out this way, and most of the lines are blank for those six months. He even noted on page 51, "56:40 last six months." This was not a lot of time for a pilot of his stature, and was probably an indicator of the deepening Great Depression.

1933 was a better year (beginning on page 53). He appeared to be engaged in student training, and his log pages were "certified correct" by Ed Dycer (Transport Pilot 4248), who operated Dycer Flying Service, Inc. at Dycer Airport, Los Angeles, CA (see stationery below). He also flew for Gilpin through December, 1933 (pages 54-60).

For January -April, 1934 he appears to return to instructing (no flights in Gilpin craft) with many blank lines in his log through June 3, 1934 when he made his last entry in this log flying an unidentified Waco for 2:49. He had accumulated 6,210 hours and 46 minutes of flight time at the end of this log (page 64). Finally, compare the sketch of the trimotor coming in low over the trees on page 65 with the sketch of the JN-4D in the EPILOGUE, below.

Below is a table of some of the aircraft flown across Bragunier's two log books. They are in no particular order. Register aircraft are in bold and linked where appropriate.

Aircraft Logged by Ace Bragunier, 1918-1934
Make Regist. Make Regist. Make Regist. Make Regist
Travel Air NC4426 Curtiss NC355H Stinson NC977W Ryan NC313K
Ford NC1781 Ford NC5577 Stinson NC978W Stinson NC10829
Lockheed NC6526 Curtiss NC9787 Timm NC887E Lincoln NC924V
Stinson NC7218 Curtiss NC76E Bach NC8069 Lincoln NC534V
Ford NC7118 Curtiss NC326E Fairchild NC9114 Monosport NC113K
Curtiss NC972K Curtiss NC387E Stinson NC225W Stinson NC609W
Curtiss NC71H Stinson NC974W Ford NC5578 Waco NC111Y
Curtiss NC980K Stinson NC975W Cessna NC404W Bach NC388
Curtiss NC195M Stinson NC976W Bach NC850E Aeronca NC12411

Besides his logs, we have another insight into Ace's interests in aviation, as well as his creativity. Below are examples of flight control ideas he had that he attempted to patent. I am not certain if patents were granted. If you can determine that, please let me KNOW.

The first is a blue print of the TOR-CON-TROL automatic rudder trim system. This is essentially a device drawing its activation power from engine manifold pressure that automatically applies right rudder when the engine is at full power for takeoff. This action, which is normally applied by the pilot's right foot, compensates for turning of the airplane to the left (so-called "P-Factor") due to the gyroscopic forces of the spinning propeller at full engine power. At first blush, this mechanism looks to add a level of complexity to the mantra of simplicity in aircraft systems. Simplicity means reliability. Reliability aloft is good.

Undated Patent Blue Print, TOR-CON-TROL (Source: Bragunier Family)
Undated Patent Blue Print, TOR-CON-TROL (Source: Bragunier Family)

The second device is an aileron control to reduce unwanted yaw and turning. In order to be "official" about claiming his primacy for the idea, he sent a registered letter to himself describing the device. The letter and the envelope are below.

Patent Letter, Automatic Aileron Control, May 26, 1937 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Patent Letter, Automatic Aileron Control, May 26, 1937 (Source: Bragunier Family)

Below, the back of this letter showing Bragunier's sketch of his control device.

Patent Letter, Automatic Aileron Control, May 26, 1937 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Patent Letter, Automatic Aileron Control, May 26, 1937 (Source: Bragunier Family)

Many contemporary small aircraft have simple, bendable metal strips attached to the trailing edges of both ailerons and rudders to allow trimming for slight imbalances in the lateral and longitudinal stability of the airplane. These strips are bendable while the aircraft is on the ground, and are not under the pilot's control while aloft. Other trim systems on larger aircraft are controllable by the pilot, usually mediated by a jackscrew engaging more or less tension on a cable that runs to the trim surface. No systems I know of gain their motive force from engine manifold pressure.

Below, the envelope used to mail the letter to himself. His stationery is from Rogers Aircraft at Union Air Terminal in Burbank, CA. Since the date of his letter is outside the dates of his pilot logs reviewed above, I'm not sure if he worked for Rogers in 1937.

Envelope, Patent Letter, Automatic Aileron Control, May 26, 1937 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Envelope, Patent Letter, Automatic Aileron Control, May 26, 1937 (Source: Bragunier Family)

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IMAGES FROM THE CLEVELAND NATIONAL AIR RACES OF 1948

Below are images that are not related to the pilots or airplanes of the Davis-Monthan Register, but we include them because they give us insight into Ace Bragunier's life-long interest in airplanes and flying.

The next fifteen images were taken at the 1948 National Air Races at Cleveland during September 4-6. As was usual at these events, and even today, the event attracted not only the racing machines, but a wide variety of civil, commercial and military aircraft.

These are candid snapshots, unposed, that show some examples of craft that comprised the leading edge of post-war military and racing technologies. Annotations on the images are in Ace's handwriting.

Below, eleven B-29s, or maybe B-50s in formation. Enlarging the original does not discriminate them.

Boeing B-29s (?) in Formation (Source: Bragunier Family)
Boeing B-17s in Formation

All these images were taken under forbidding skies. In a couple of the photographs the runway appears wet.

Below, this airplane, 48-358, is a Lockheed TF-80C-1-LO. It was entered in the 1948 Bendix Trophy race with 300-gallon tip tanks. It aborted from the race due to a fuel feed problem. It crashed Sept 9, 1948 during landing at Van Nuys, CA. Pilot Capt. James T. Fitzgerald died of injuries 11 days later.

The F-80 "Shooting Star" (Source: Bragunier Family)
The F-80 "Shooting Star"

Below, the TF-80 forms up with the B-36. The "streamer" out the back of the B-36 is actually a lint particle on the original photo. As usual, scratches, folds, blots and lint courtesy of the history that makes these photographs so compelling.

B-36 With TF-80 in Formation (Source: Bragunier Family)
B-36 With F-80 in Formation

Below, a closeup of the B-36. Robert (L) and Kenneth Bragunier in the foreground.

Close-up of the B-36 on the Ground at Cleveland (Source: Bragunier Family)
Close-up of the B-36

Below, in 1948, the Navy "Blue Angels" flew Grumman F8F Bearcats. The team was equipped with five airplanes. Four aircraft were used in the trademark diamond, while the fifth was assigned as a solo aircraft and also filled in as the spare aircraft for the diamond when needed.

"The Blue Angels", 1948 (Source: Bragunier Family)
"The Blue Angels", 1948

Below, labeled "Corsair", is a quick shot over a building during the Thompson Trophy Race. First and second places in the Thompson Race were taken in 1948 by P-51 Mustang aircraft. Two Corsairs did run the Thompson that year, but they dropped out during laps 3 and 4.

The silhouette of the airplane in the photograph does not match that of the clipped, bent-wing Goodyear Corsairs. But it does resemble a Mustang. Enlarging the original shows this airplane in a left bank heading toward the camera. The slender nose and tapered wings are not characteristic of the Corsair. Perhaps this airplane is misidentified in Ace's image? See, below, the Corsair N5590N that dropped out during the 4th lap.

Corsair (?) (Source: Bragunier Family)
Corsair (?)

Below, the F-86A Sabre was introduced October 1, 1947, but wasn't officially adopted by the U.S. Air Force until 1949. This particular airplane, (USAF S/N 47-611), built in 1947, set the world speed record of 670.98 mph at Edwards Air Force Base, CA on Sept 15, 1948 flown by Maj. Richard L. Johnson. This was just a week or so after Ace photographed it here, on the ground at Cleveland. The record was set with full fuel and normal armament and ammunition aboard.

F-86A Record Setter (Source: Bragunier Family)
F-86

Below, what appears to be a Fairchild C-82 Packet. This airplane flew during the last years of WWII as a troop and cargo carrier. I identify it as a C-82 because the windows are taller than wide. The next version of the "Flying Boxcar", the Fairchild C-119, besides having better performance, had windows that were wider than tall. Ace is at left; Kenneth at right leaning on the propeller. Given that Ace passed away in 1950, granddaughter Laurie speculates the 1948 races were some of the last aviation events Ace enjoyed with his sons.

Fairchild C-82 "Flying Boxcar" (Source: Bragunier Family)
"Flying Boxcar"

Below, the T-6 was an advanced trainer for WWII pilots who then transitioned to the more powerful and capable P-51 Mustangs, P-47 Thunderbolts and the other single engine fighters. These two Air Force Reserve AT-6s traveled from New York to Cleveland in 1948 to put on an aerobatic display. The lead aircraft was flown by Lt. William J. Fenton. His wing was flown by Lt. Robert S. Fitzgerald. This is a nice, "big sky" overhead snapshot that I left whole and uncut for you to enjoy.

T-6 Formation Flight, September 1948 (Source: Bragunier Family)
T-6 Formation Flight

Below, the British Dehavilland Vampire in a turn. Note the slight blur of objects on the ground. Ace panned his camera left to right to make this shot of this relatively fast airplane. Follow this link to see a 3-minute video of a Vampire flying formation with a P-51 Mustang. The place is Sweden and the year is 1993, but the airplanes sound and look the same as the ones Ace saw and heard at Cleveland in 1948. The Mustang still rumbles and snaps on the ground, but goes cantata in the air at higher RPM. The Vampire still howls like a siren.

Vampire (Source: Bragunier Family)
Vampire

Below, Goodyear F2G-1 Corsair N5590N, race number 94. This airplane was flown during the 1948 Thompson Trophy Race by Cook Cleland. He dropped out during lap 4.

Cleland won the 1947 Thompson in a Goodyear F2G-2 Corsair NX5577N. His team mate, Richard Becker, flew N5590N to second place in 1947.

Goodyear F2G-1 Corsair N5590N (Source: Bragunier Family)
N5590N

 

1948 Racer #3, "Cosmic Wind" (Source: Bragunier Family)
1948 Racer

Above and below are two images of race number 3, the "Cosmic Wind". Notice the absence of wheel pants in the image above.

1948 Racer #3, "Cosmic Wind" (Source: Bragunier Family)
1948 Racer #3, "Cosmic Wind"

Below, race number 44,  NX64573, the original "Loose Special". This airplane had a race history dating from 1935. It went through several name changes:"Townsend A-1 Special" aka "Loose-Siem Special". It flew behind a 85HP Continental C-85 as a Goodyear-class racer. It competed in 1948 as the "Townsend Special". Another image is here.

Number 44  NX64573 "Loose Special" (Source: Bragunier Family)
Number 44

Below, the champion aerobat at the 1948 Air Races. A site visitor helps us understand that this airplane has an interesting history, as it was delivered to the United States by the Hindenberg in 1936. It belonged to Alex Papana to start with. It sold two more times winding up with Bevo Howard, who flew it until he died in it in 1971.

Bevo Howard in Buecker-Jungmeister Aerobatic Champion, 1948 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Aerobatic Champion, 1948

It was Bevo's airplane when photographed by Ace in 1948. Bevo was the champ that year. Restored, it now hangs upside down in permanent joy at the Udvar-Hazy facility of the National Air & Space Museum. This airplane is a Buecker-Jungmeister, registration N15696. Please direct your browser here to see images of this airplane in action.

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OTHER IMAGES FROM THE BRAGUNIER FAMILY COLLECTION

Below are three images of Ace with an airplane named the Gilmore Cub. The gentleman on the right is unidentified. The "Gilmore Cub" was a Gilmore Oil Company color comic newspaper that was given away at gas stations during the mid- to late 1930s. Issues of the paper are relatively rare and can be found occasionally on eBay.

Ace Bragunier (L) with Gilmore Cub, January 1938 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Gilmore Cub, January 1938

This airplane is a Stearman-Hammond Y-1-S with a pusher-type Menasco engine and side-by-side seating for two. It had tricycle landing gear for safer landings and ground handling, as well as a twin tail boom that fenced off the pusher propeller. The starboard boom, vertical and horizontal stabilizer are visible just to the left of Ace's elbow. The link, above, is to a YouTube video of the airplane in action on the ground and in the air. The gentleman on the right in the image above could be the talking head in the film. Further technical and operational details for this airplane, as well as additional images of the type are available in Juptner in the REFERENCES, volume 7, page 157.

According to Juptner, the airplane pictured is NC15523 (S/N 308). It does not appear in the Davis-Monthan Register. It was the first one sold in southern California to the Gilmore Oil Company. It was used extensively to promote Gilmore's product lines. The Y-1-S was one of the most talked-about airplanes in the country from the first date of manufacture (June 1937).

Ace Bragunier and Gilmore Cub, January 1938 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Gilmore Cub, January 1938

Below, the Gilmore Cub with a Gilmore Oil Company service vehicle (note: this is one vehicle; the tractor is turned perpendicular to the trailer). This image is annotated at Merced, CA, January 1938. Ace is at left sitting on the bumper. The gentleman sitting next to him is the same one as in the first Cub image, above. The two standing men are unidentified.

Gilmore Cub at Merced, CA January 1928 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Gilmore Cub at Merced, CA January 1928

Below, the final image of the Gilmore Cub. The location of this photograph is United Airport Burbank, CA. A United Airlines DC-3 is in the background, as is the characteristic Burbank Terminal building.

This image shows the large door on the Y-1-S (there was one on the starboard side, too) that allowed easy access to the ground by pilot and passenger. The writing on the side of the original image (see it on the fuselage at far right) identifies this craft as an official carrier of U.S. mail.

Ace Bragunier (L) and Gilmore Cub, January 1938. Pilot Unidentified. (Source: Bragunier Family)
Gilmore Cub, January 1938

Below is an image of a large monoplane with an RAF pilot (note the RAF wings on his chest). The pilot is unknown. Can anyone recognize him, his location or anything about the aircraft? Although this pilot looks a lot like Uncle Albert, above, no one in the Bragunier family knows anything about a flying career he might have had.

Unknown RAF Pilot (Source: Bragunier Family)
Unknown RAF Pilot

Below, Ace (R) and an unknown man. If you recognize the man on the left, please let me know.

Ace and Unknown (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace and Unknown

Below, Ace Bragunier (center) and four unknown gentlemen. The airplane and the man second from left are the same as the ones in the photograph just above.

This airplane looks like a Stinson "Reliant", probably an earlier model, because the upper frame of the windsheild is straight, not curved as in the later models. The gentleman second from right holds a helmet and goggles in his left hand and a cigarette in his right. Note the fountain pens in jacket pockets. At least one Davis-Monthan airplane is indirectly related to fountain pens. Please direct your browser to NC126M.

Ace & Four Unknown Gentlemen (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace & Four Unknown Gentlemen

Below, Ace in an undated photograph with another four unidentified gentlemen. Ace is second from right. The airplane appears to be a Fairchild PT-19. Because of the cover over the fuselage it's hard to see if there is an open cockpit.

Ace Bragunier with Unidentified Gentlemen (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace Bragunier with Unidentified Gentlemen

Below, another image of Ace, the PT-19 and the same unidentified gentleman as in the center of the image above. The landing gear geometry and the inertial starter behind the left arm of the gentleman on the right identify the airplane as a PT-19.

Ace With Fairchild PT-19 and Unidentified Gentleman (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace With Fairchild PT-19 and Unidentified Gentleman

Below, Ace in the cockpit of a mock-up Curtiss P-40. The engine is running. There is no annotation on this image; no information regarding location, date or context. However, this "airplane" is probably one of the taxi models from the John Wayne film "Flying Tigers". Friend of dmairfield.org, Tim Kalina, writes,"'Flying Tigers' used a number of model P-40s which were fitted with auto engines so they could taxi. These mock-ups had numbers in the 70's series painted on them, which may make the '71' in the Bragunier photo one of the movie props."

Ace Bragunier in Curtiss P-40 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace Bragunier in Curtiss P-40

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Indeed, in the two images below from the film, we see "71" in the background undergoing "maintenance" at, perhaps, "Kunming". These images come to us not from Ace's album, but from site visitor Chuck Anderson, whose website specializes in "B-Westerns". See below, also, for his take on the Mountie movie.

"P-40" Number 71, in "Flying Tigers" (Source: Anderson)
"P-40" Number 71, Ace in Cockpit
"P-40" Number 71, in "Flying Tigers" (Source: Anderson)
"P-40" Number 71, in "Flying Tigers"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further to the movie "Flying Tigers", this link states the production company, "... constructed its own fleet of P-40 fighter planes, by 'using obsolete planes and re-designing its own simulated P-40s at a reported cost of $2,200'...." The link also states the airplanes made, "...for the film were constructed with the aid of United Air Services, which was run by Paul Mantz, who is also listed as appearing in the film as a stunt flyer. Supervising the construction were Mantz's chief pilot Clarence "Ace" Bragunier and chief mechanic Robert King." This information defines Ace's appearance in #71, above, and also confirms his employment and responsibilities in 1942.

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The five images below are identified as being at a movie set for what appears to be a story taking place in Canada. There are no identifications for people, the airplane, or the location on the photographs in Ace's album. But, with a little research and a little help from Chuck Anderson (see above) the title of the movie is certainly "Heart of the North" (Warner Brothers, 1938). This is a Warner Brothers set at Big Bear Lake, CA. Please follow along below for the development of the story behind these five images. If you identify anything additional about these images, please let us KNOW.

The image immediately below is a wide shot of the movie location. The boom microphone, light reflectors and what looks like a couple of actors are present. In the original image, the bow of the canoe in the foreground is painted "RCMP" for Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Wide Shot of Movie Location (Source: Bragunier Family)
Wide Shot of Movie Location

Below, an aircraft on floats. C.F.-O.A.X. is a Canadian registration, which does not show up in Google. It is not clear if this is a flyable aircraft, or if it is just a movie prop with a runnable engine and taxi capability. According to site visitor Tim Kalilna, this registration, CF-OAX, was issued to a Stinson SR-RFM Reliant July 10, 1937. This registration was withdrawn from use May 3, 1945 (no reason given in the record).

Note that the film plane has the registration incorrectly applied as there are periods after each letter. Regardless, the person in the front cockpit, according to Chuck Anderson (see above), looks like the hero of the saga played by cowboy actor Dick Foran. Here is Chuck Anderson's biography of Foran. The person in the rear cockpit is Foran's Mountie sidekick, actor Allen Jenkins.

Aircraft on Floats (Source: Bragunier Family)
Aircraft on Floats

Below, co-star Allen Jenkins (aka Cpl. Bll Hardsock) in Mountie uniform. Compare his boots to those pictured here.

Mountie Sidekick Allen Jenkins in Uniform (Source: Bragunier Family)
Mountie in Uniform

Below, a long shot of the airplane. The person on the float looks like Ace. From the smoothness of the water and the shadows this might be a mid-morning preparation for a day of shooting. Ace is probably pumping out the floats, as we can see water splashing off to the side of his left hand.

Aircraft on Floats (Source: Bragunier Family)
Aircraft on Floats

Below, the last image of the movie set five. This smoke does not appear to be coming out of the exhaust pipes visible at the bottom of the cowling. The person beating a hasty retreat, and the black smoke suggest an engine fire, possibly oil-related. The person (Foran) looks to be departing the area, while Jenkins is just visible in the back cockpit through the smoke.

Aircraft on Floats, On Fire (Source: Bragunier Family)
Aircraft on Floats, On Fire?

Please follow this link to see a series of stills from the film "Heart of the North" that include the actors and the airplane shown above.

Below, an unusual photographic angle of Ace working on what looks like an automobile. He is leaning over the fender with the hood open toward the viewer and the engine firewall at left (with anti-chafe molding visible).

Ace Bragunier Working on a Car, Date Unknown (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace Bragunier Working on a Car, Date Unknown

Below, a photograph taken probably at the same time as the one above. Ace us using a small pair of scissors to cut something, perhaps a piece of gasket material or a shim.

Ace Bragunier, Cutting? (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace Bragunier, Cutting?

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EPILOGUE

Below, one of the drawings brother Kenneth recalls being made at the kitchen table.

Ace Bragunier Drawing, 1939 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Ace Bragunier Drawing, 1939

Below is an enlargement I made of the lower right corner of the image above. I burned the contrast a little to increase readability. We can see Ace sketching this on foolscap and presenting it to one of his sons.

Drawing Inscription, August 27, 1939 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Drawing Inscription

 

Clarence "Ace" Bragunier, November 1, 1943 (Source: Bragunier Family)
Clarence "Ace" Bragunier, November 1, 1943

 

 

Ace's granddaughter states, "He had to stop flying somewhere around 1949 because of some kind of heart condition that was caused from flying at high altitudes without the proper gear. ... Warner Brothers Pictures then gave him a job as a driver for the movies where he died on location on April 14, 1950, which left behind his 2 sons Robert (my Dad) and Kenneth (my uncle)."

Robert had no sons and Kenneth had no children. The last male with the Bragunier surname (Kenneth) passed away in September 2007.

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UPDATES

Update of 01/23/10 Image below from friend of dmairfield.org, John Underwood. The photograph shows many of the early Hollywood movie stunt fliers. The location and date are Dycer Airport during 1932. Bragunier stands sixth from the left. The airplane is a Stearman C3R.

Ace Bragunier & Hollywood Movie Pilots, Dycer Airport, 1932 (Source: Underwood)
Ace Bragunier & Hollywood Movie Pilots, Dycer Airport, 1932 (Source: Underwood)

Below, the key to the people that was pasted to the back of the photograph.

Caption: Ace Bragunier & Hollywood Movie Pilots, Dycer Airport, 1932 (Source: Underwood)
Caption: Ace Bragunier & Hollywood Movie Pilots, Dycer Airport, 1932 (Source: Underwood)

Fellow Register pilot Lloyd Downs is at far left. Bragunier, Lincoln, Waterman and Gordon appear in Wynne in the REFERENCES. Only Bragunier and Downs are Register pilots.

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Dossier 2.1.177

UPLOADED: 01/07/08 REVISED: 01/09/08, 01/14/08, 02/15/08, 01/23/10, 01/08/13, 07/09/13, 12/07/16

 
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We should all be grateful to the family of "Ace" Bragunier, especially granddaughter Laurie Bragunier-Taylor of Los Angeles, CA, for sharing with us these sixty-six fresh and outstanding images, and this information about Ace.

PLEASE NOTE: Ace passed away in 1950, well-before any of his granddaughters got to know him.

Consequently, a lot of the photographs have in them unidentified people, places and aircraft. If you see any that you recognize, please let us KNOW.

UPDATES at the bottom of this page are viewed at the link.
 
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