THOUSANDS OF PICTURES
Victor Dallin, June 7, 1930, Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)
Victor Dallin was born in England on
January 16, 1897. He traveled a round-about route to the
time we see him at Tucson. He moved to Canada at age 8. At
age 18, he volunteered for the Canadian Expeditionary Forces,
was shipped to England, and transferred to the Royal Flying
Corps and trained to fly in Scotland. He took a few official
aerial photos as part of his flying assignments. Photograph, right, courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr Stream (SDAM), shows Dallin on June 7, 1930. He appears to wear British wings on his uniform.
After WWI, he came back to Canada and entered air exhibition
work, then aircraft ferry services, delivering British aircraft
from Ontario to New York. Another delivery to the Philadelphia
area led him to eventually settle there. For several months
in 1920, Dallin piloted for a well-known Philadelphia aerial
photographer, William N. Jennings. Jennings was up in years,
and had begun business in 1893 photographing from a free
With this experience, he founded Dallin Aerial Surveys,
Inc. in 1924. The company was successful, and the image,
below, taken in 1929, shows Victor Dallin at far left, with
three of his staff, holding the instruments of his trade. He
never employed more than seven people.The company was located
at what has become the main Philadelphia international airport.
Dallin was owner/operator of the company from 1924-1941,
and many aerial images of the Golden Age have his company's
byline ("Aerial photograph by Victor Dallin") at the bottom
(see right sidebar). He was an early president of the Aero
Club of Pennsylvania.
He began business with a new Laird Swallow. An undated article
in his NASM file , probably from a magazine, headlined
"Swallow Agent Makes Fine Flight". This airplane
could probably be N-ABSA, registered to Victor Dallin before
the current numeric airplane registration scheme. This is
speculation, however, since the article was undated.
Most of his aerial images were taken from between 400 and
1,500 feet altitude, with the camera mounted on the side
of the fuselage, facing forward, at an angle of about 45-degrees.
A shutter mechanism was under Dallin's control in the cockpit.
The rear-seater was responsible for changing glass film plates
for the 8 x 10 inch cameras. He worked from 10AM to 2PM for
optimum lighting conditions. Image,
below is of Dallin's home airport at Philadelphia, August
Dallin Aerial Surveys specialized in aerial surveys and
in oblique photographs of factories, estates and real estate
for developers. His first large contract was to map Philadelphia
for the City Council at a scale of 1:800. Forty or 50 images
taken during a day's work was not unusual. He also photographed
contemporary news events, and sold the images to newspapers
His charges for
oblique photos were $100 for the first image, then $25 per
image of the same subject. Negatives were retained by the
company. Color film was never used. Images could be enlarged
to 40 x 60 inches.
Dallin landed twice at the Davis-Monthan Airfield, on September
10, and September 20, 1928. He carried a single passenger
both times, identified only as "Hackendorn." They
flew in a Bellanca, NC4799, owned by Henri duPont. On September
10, they were westbound from Lordsburg,
NM to Los
Angeles, CA. On the 20th they were eastbound from Phoenix,
AZ to El Paso, TX.
This cross-country voyage was to participate in the 1928
National Air Races ("On to Los Angeles"). The Bellanca (race
number 54) was a model CH-200 owned by duPont. He took aerial
images of the Race at Los Angeles, and won the Efficiency
Race for the 800 cubic inch class, and took second place
in the Speed Race.
In 1940, he was appointed manager of the Philadelphia Airport
and in October of that year he was appointed Director of
Aeronautics for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In 1941,
with Pearl Harbor and its effects on civilian aviation, Dallin
Aerial Surveys ceased operations.
During WWII, then Colonel Dallin assumed commands in the
Caribbean and South America. He returned to Pennsylvania
in 1945 as Chief, Bureau of Aeronautics, and helped develop
the North Philadelphia Airport and the Philadelphia International
Airport. Prior to his retirement, he was employed as a technician
for an ophthalmologist. He retired to North Carolina. He
passed away October 10, 1991.
UPLOADED: 03/16/06 REVISED: 11/26/14