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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.

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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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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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WALLACE M. "Gotch" DILLON

Lt. W.M. Dillon landed once at Tucson, Thursday, June 27, 1929 at 1:00PM. He was solo in the Boeing F3B-1 he identified as Bureau Number A-7759. Based at San Diego, CA, he arrived from San Diego on a round-robin flight. He departed back west at 2:30PM the same day.

He appeared to be among a flight of at least seven Navy Boeings that all landed within minutes of each other. Three of them, including Dillon, returned to San Diego. The other five continued eastbound to El Paso, TX. They departed eastbound at the same time Dillon and company departed to San Diego. It must have been a wonderful noise as they all took off simultaneously.

Below, courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr Stream (SDAM), is a photograph of Dillon four years after his Tucson landing, either entering or exiting a Boeing cockpit. "5-F-16" is the squadron number of the aircraft. If anyone can identify it by Bureau Number, please let me KNOW. Dillon was promoted between the time he visited Tucson and when the photo below was snapped. A lieutenant when he landed, he is identified as a LCDR in the photo.

Wallace M. Dillon, 1933, Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)
William M. Dillon, 1933, Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)

Dillon graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA), class of 1918. Below is his page from the USNA yearbook. His cauliflower ear bears witness to his wrestling accomplishments. He was designated Naval Aviator No. 2946 in 1921.

W.M. Dillon, USNA Yearbook (Source: Woodling)
W.M. Dillon, USNA Yearbook (Source: Woodling)

Dillon performed a couple of record feats for the Navy, which placed him in good stead for his rise through the ranks during the interbellum. According to this REFERENCE, on May 2, 1924, Dillon flew a first for the Navy. The citation states, "A DT plane, carrying a dummy torpedo, was launched by catapult from the USS Langley, at anchor in Pensacola Bay. The plane was piloted by LT. W.M. Dillion [sic] and also carried LT. S.H. Wooster as gunnery officer." The ship was the first U.S.S. Langley, converted to an aircraft carrier in 1920 (see below).

In 1926, Dillon was a lead officer in the Alaskan Aerial Expedition in May of that year. The purpose of the expedition was to survey, via aerial photography, 40,000 square miles of the southeast Alaska coast. One of his fellow officers was Register pilot Claude Alexander. Please direct your browser to Alexander's biography for details of the Alaska Expedition. Dillon, and I'm guessing the other officers as well, received the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1926 for his leadership role in the Expedition.

I have little information about his work career or personal life during the 1930s. As the U.S. entered WWII, Dillon held the rank of Captain and commanded the U.S.S. Langley (the second one, launched in 1943).

As a Captain, he was awarded the Legion of Merit in September, 1944 for actions in the western Pacific aboard the Langley. He won another Legion of Merit in July, 1945 for his work ashore as Commander, Naval Air Bases, Okinawa, keeping Okinawa airfields operational.

Below, Dillon appears, left, during WWII with another pilot aboard the Langley, May, 1944. The other pilot had just shot down four Japanese aircraft.

W.M. Dillon (L), U.S.S. Langley, May, 1944 (Source: National Naval Aviation Museum)

He married Dorothy Smith (1908-2010) in the late 1940s. Dillon rose to the rank of Rear Admiral and retired from the Navy in 1946. He was born July 18, 1895 and passed away on April 4, 1965. He is buried at the Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola, FL. Other information and photographs with annotations are available at the link.

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 02/23/15 REVISED:

 
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I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Dillon and his airplane to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.

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Thanks to Guest Editor Bob Woodling for help researching this page.

OTHER BOOKS FOR YOU

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. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-2-5.

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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. ISBN 978-0-9843074-1-8.

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Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race is available at the link. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. What was it like to fly from Oakland to Honolulu in a single-engine plane during August 1927? Was the 25,000 dollar prize worth it? Did the resulting fame balance the risk? For the first time ever, this book presents the pilot and navigator's stories written by them within days of their record-setting adventure. Pilot Art Goebel and navigator William V. Davis, Jr. take us with them on the Woolaroc, their orange and blue Travel Air monoplane (NX869) as they enter the hazardous world of Golden Age trans-oceanic air racing. ISBN 978-0-9843074-3-2.

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