Pilot Eyes

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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.


This information comes from the biographical file for pilot Cleveland, CC-325500-01, reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC.


Some of this information is from the "Blue Book of Aviation", Roland W. Hoagland, Ed., published in 1932 by The Hoagland Company, Publishers, Los Angeles, CA. 292 pp.

The cover of this handsome book is deeply engraved, and the fly leaves are printed with terrific art deco accents. Inside are brief biographies of contemporary aviation figures, as well as tables of various data.

Magazine advertisement image from Aero Digest, December, 1930.


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E.W. Cleveland was born in Naples, NY on November 5, 1889 (some sources give 1890 as the year). He was a decade or so older than the cohort of pilots who passed through Tucson, therefore the nickname "Pop." He was a part of the stuff and lore of general aviation during the Golden Age: air races; air tours; flying businessman; aviation event official; a real booster of the art.

E.W. Cleveland, ca. 1938

He learned to fly in 1911 at Glenn Curtiss' facility at Hammondsport, NY. During WWI he was a civilian instructor for the U.S. Army at Rantoul and Ellington Fields.

After leaving the Army, he barnstormed throughout the country from 1919-23. He took a job from 1923-27 as manager of the Mayer Aircraft Company in Pittsburgh, PA. He managed the airport there.

He is particularly well known for his activities during the National Air Races (NAR), the Ford Reliability Tours, and as a flying salesman for the Cleveland Pneumatic Tool Company, Cleveland, OH. He went to work for Cleveland Pneumatic in 1927.

Cleveland Pneumatic was one of the first companies to embrace aviation as a business tool. "Pop" was instrumental, beginning in 1927, in making that so. The company first bought a Waco, which Cleveland flew in the Reliability Tour of 1927. He placed 12th.

Then the company bought a Ryan B-1 Brougham, NC1159, with a Wright J-5C engine. He flew to Tucson twice in that airplane, on July 10th and September 20, 1928.

E.W. Cleveland, ca. 1952

On July 10, he was involved in the Ford Reliability Tour for 1928, westbound from El Paso, TX, he carried three passengers, J.F. Wallace, Robert Nesbit and a Mr. Sagel, a member of the Cleveland Press. They placed 20th. It is unclear what he was doing a couple of months later on September 20th, when he visited Tucson with L.H. Burr and J.F. Wallace (again) as passengers. They were eastbound from San Diego to Cleveland, OH.

He also landed earlier as a passenger in 1927. It's a long-shot guess, but we might have seen NC1159 landing at Tucson as a new airplane with J.F. Wallace as pilot and Cleveland as passenger. They brought a Ryan "M1" through Tucson Thursday, September 8, 1927. They did not identify it by registration number. They were eastbound from San Diego, CA to Cleveland. The NAR that year was held at Spokane, WA from September 21-27, so this was well before the races, and they might have had enough time to reach New York, turn the airplane around, and fly back west again to Spokane in the Class "A" event.

Beginning in 1933, he was a member of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences. This PDF file shows the application paperwork for his induction in 1933, and for his advancement in grade in 1952. This vignette into his professional life is even more interesting, because, as you'll notice at the bottom of pages 1 and 4, the paperwork was signed by his good friend Jimmy Doolittle (who signed our Register on October 9, 1927).

His work with Cleveland Pneumatic spanned 1927-1952. He reached every corner of the country by air on behalf of his sales obligations with the company. He rose to VP and Director of the company, and along the way accumulated 10,000 flight hours. Below, courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr Stream (SDAM), is an undated photograph of Cleveland.

E.W. Cleveland, Date & Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)

On August 6, 1952, during a combined business/pleasure flight in the Pacific Northwest, Cleveland, his wife and his secretary were killed instantly when the Beech Bonanza he was piloting struck the base of Mt. Baldy southeast of Seattle, WA. There was heavy fog.

The color photograph, below, is shared with us courtesy of site visitor Dale Endle. His aunt, Anna Belle Elmslie, was Cleveland's secretary who lost her life in the fatal crash at Seattle. "Cleveland Pneumatic Tool Co." is painted on the fuselage of this Beech Staggerwing, as is what looks like the airplane's name, "Miss Aerol Struts".

E.W. "Pop" Cleveland With Beech Staggerwing, Date Unknown (Source: Ende)
E.W. "Pop" Cleveland With Beech Staggerwing, Date Unknown

Mr. Endle recalls his visit with Cleveland, "I was only about 8 years old when I met "Pop" (circa 1949-50) on a visit to my aunt's office.  She took me to his office where he was sitting - model planes everywhere - he gave me two (Saber Jet and commercial plane).  It was several years after that when they perished."


The advertisement, below, from Aero Digest, December, 1930 shows Cleveland standing next to a Travel Air. The registration number of his airplane is not clear, but the first numeral is "5". The airplane is painted in the livery of the Cleveland Pneumatic Tool Company, including "AEROL STRUTS" writ large on the bottom of the wing. Another, smaller, example of Cleveland advertising can be seen on Ruth Nichols' page.

dvertisement, 1930

This ad is for Heywood starters, and uses the reputation of Cleveland as a "starter" for the National Air Races to sell them. I wonder what he and his company were paid for this endorsement.

Cleveland had a presence at Parks Airport and Pitcairn Field as well.


Dossier 2.1.73

UPLOADED: 03/22/06 REVISED: 04/20/06, 12/20/11

The Register
I'm looking for photographs of this airplanes, NC1159 and NC6965 to include on this page. If you have one or more you'd like to share, please use this FORM to contact me.


Flying Shoe, ca. 1938


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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