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Some of this information comes from the biographical file for pilot Earhart, CE-004000-01 et seq., reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC. Her files at the NASM are voluminous.

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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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Pilot Earhart has a prodigious Web presence, with 1,680,000 Google hits as of the upload date of this page.

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Relevant to her Lockheed Vegas, the following record exists at the National Air & Space Museum. It discusses NC945Y (not a Register airplane). This record was not reviewed by me:

Earhart, Amelia Mary, 1897-1937. XXXX- 0049. Scrapbook; 1931-1935; 1 box. Pilot. This oversize spiral notebook was compiled by Charles H. Babb and Paul Mantz as the "Story of NC- 945-Y," probably for Pratt and Whitney as advertising for the Wasp S1D1 engine installed in her new Lockheed Vega. It covers flights from April 1931 to May 1935 when she broke all records from Mexico City to New York City.

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A Smithsonian film from 2005 shows Earhart's Lockheed Vega NC7952 at the National Air & Space Museum (This is a YouTube video, so no guarantees about continuing availability: please let me KNOW if the link is no longer active).

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A 25-second motion picture film of Earhart and one of her airplanes is available here.

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Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register
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AMELIA EARHART

INCOMPLETE

With all the books that have been written about and by Amelia Earhart, the movies, magazine articles, interviews and speculations, not to mention a large Web presence, I'm not going to repeat that here. Rather, after a brief introduction I will fill this page with unique, non-standard information, anecdotes and photos that one might not find in print or elsewhere.

Amelia Earhart, Date & Location Unknown (Source: NASM)
Amelia Earhart, Date & Location Unknown

For a pilot who was reputed to have marginal technical and piloting skills, Amelia Earhart enjoys to this day legendary, near mythical status in the pantheon of Golden Age aviators. The date and location of the image at left are unknown, but it probably dates from the late 1930s during her planning for her disastrous around-the-world flight.

She is one of forty-two female Davis-Monthan Register pilots. She, along with fifteen of her sister signers, were charter members of The Ninety-Nines. She served as the first president of the organization from 1931-1933. Her birthplace at Atchison, KS is a museum. A timeline of her aviation accomplishments is here.

Most people who have been alive and warm in the 20th century know a lot about Amelia Earhart. It is difficult to find items that have not already been seen or told about Earhart's personal and flying exploits. I leave it to site visitors to explore the Web (left sidebar) for background information about her. This page is devoted more or less to Tucson specifics and to items that can be categorized as off-the-beaten-path.

Earhart landed at Tucson and signed the Register three times flying aircraft made famous by her. Her first two landings were with Lockheed Vega NC7952. She set two records with this airplane.

On May 21, 1932 she became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean using NC7952. A few months later, on August 25, 1932 she flew from Los Angeles, CA to Newark, NJ in 19 hours and 5 minutes.

Her landings at Tucson in NC7952 occurred a couple of years earlier. The first was on Saturday, November 30, 1929 at 1:30 PM, shortly before she purchased the aircraft. She was solo eastbound from Los Angeles, CA to Omaha, NB.

Her second landing was shortly after she bought the airplane, on Friday, July 25, 1930 at 6:20 PM (please direct your browser to the link for the airplane to learn about these details). She carried a single passenger identified as Lt. Harper. They were eastbound from San Diego, CA to El Paso, TX. No purpose was given in the Register for these flights, and I have no information regarding passenger Harper.

Her third landing was in the Pitcairn PCA-2 autogiro NC10780. She landed with one unidentified passenger on Wednesday, June 10, 1931 at 10:00 AM. They were eastbound from Phoenix, AZ to "Points east...." Follow the link to the autogiro for more information on this interesting aircraft, and to discover the reason for her flights with it that brought her to Tucson. Follow the links on that page to discover the competition that developed between her and fellow Register autogiro pilot John Miller.

Below, an image of Earhart in NC10780, the Beech-Nut autogiro, taken June 3, 1931, just before she brought it through Tucson. Credit for this image is here.

Amelia Earhart in the Beech-Nut Autogiro, NC10780, Denver, CO, June 3, 1931
Amelia Earhart in the Beech-Nut Autogiro, NC10780, Denver, CO, June 3, 1931

Given the proximity of this date to her landing in Tucson, she was probably westbound in this photo, making it to the west coast only to discover that her transcontinental record attempt had been eclipsed on May 28th by John Miller. Note the front cockpit covered over. Can anyone RECOGNIZE what looks to be an airport tower structure behind her? A Beechnut advertising brochure describing this aircraft is at the link. Upon her reaching the west coast, she turned around to fly back east. She wrecked NC10780 upon takeoff from Abilene, TX on June 13, 1931.

Below, a U.S. postal cachet signed by Earhart and a group of other Register pilots. Earhart participated in a few of the transcontinental air derbies of the Golden Age, beginning with the famed "Powder Puff Derby" that was part of the 1929 National Air Races (NAR). This cachet is from the 1930 NAR and it is shared with us by site visitor Jeff Staines. It was signed after the founding of the women's pilot organization, the "Ninety-Nines." He identifies this artifact as, "... a cachet from the 1930 Women's Air Derby out in Long Beach, CA signed by a few of the 99's. I believe that this one was signed at different locations other than Long Beach by Amelia Earhart, Gladys O'Donnell, Margery Doig, Jean LaRene, and Mildred Morgan." Please direct your browser to these links to learn more about these Register pilots. I was unable to determine what Arthur E. Anakin was managing in 1930. His signature is a rubber stamp, however.

U.S. Postal Cachet, August 18, 1930 (Source: Staines)
U.S. Postal Cachet, August 18, 1930 (Source: Staines)

Below, courtesy of site visitor Joe Kranz, are two pages and a photograph from his grandfather's album. Two of them show U.S. postal cachets signed by Earhart. The first is from September 6, 1931 commemorating the NAR. The photograph and the news article above the cachet are not related either in time or activity. The autogiro she is sitting in is probably the one she trained in at the Pitcairn facility, or the one she used to set an altitude record in 1931 in Pennsylvania. The article, dated July 8, 1933, describes her second transcontinental record flight in her Lockheed Vega.

Postal Cachet and Photograph, Amelia Earhart, Ca. 1931-33 (Source: Kranz)
Postal Cachet and Photograph, Amelia Earhart, Ca. 1931-33 (Source: Kranz)

Below, from Mr. Kranz, a posed photograph of Earhart.

Amelia Earhart, Undated Photograph (Source: Kranz)
Amelia Earhart, Undated Photograph (Source: Kranz)

 

1932 Essex Terraplane (Source: Web)
1932 Essex Terraplane (Source: Web)

 

Below, also from Joe Kranz, at the 1932 NAR Earhart congratulates Florence Klingensmith for her victory in the 21-mile Amelia Earhart Trophy Race. Klingensmith flew a Monocoupe (time 15:07:30) and won a new Essex Terraplane for her efforts ("Raise up your hood; raise up your hood. I'm gonna check your oil this mornin'." Who says we can't quote "Terraplane Blues" by Robert Johnson via John Lee Hooker?)

 

 

Amelia Earhart (L) and Florence Klingensmith, NAR, Ca. August-September, 1932 (Source: Kranz)
Amelia Earhart (L) and Florence Klingensmith, NAR, Ca. August-September, 1932 (Source: Kranz)

Florence Klingensmith (not a Register pilot; September 3, 1904 – September 4, 1933) died a day before her 29th birthday during the 1933 NAR when her GeeBee aircraft crashed. The fate of her Terraplane is unknown.

The second album page, below, holds two photographs of Earhart (a formal and informal pair) and a cachet commemorating the 1933 NAR dated July 3rd.

Postal Cachet and Two Photographs, Amelia Earhart, Ca. 1933 (Source: Kranz)
Postal Cachet and Two Photographs, Amelia Earhart, Ca. 1933 (Source: Kranz)

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Amelia Earhart Gazes Down at Irene (Duncanson) Burns, August 1, 1933 (Source: Burns)
Amelia Earhart Gazes Down at Irene (Duncanson) Burns, August 1, 1933 (Source: Burns)

 

 

Because of her growing fame, Earhart was a VIP principal invited to attend many celebrations for the achievements of other pilots. One such gathering was for British aviators James and Amy Mollison (neither are Register pilots) on August 1, 1933. From 1931-33 the Mollisons had flown several international routes, setting records for speed and/or distance. In July, 1933, just days before the party described below, he and his wife Amy (Johnson) Mollison attempted a flight from Wales to the United States. They completed the flight, crunching their airplane, a deHavilland Dragon Rapide, in a swamp near Bridgeport, CT.

The photographs and program in this section are shared with us by site visitor Irene Burns. At right, Amelia Earhart (second from left) stands next to James Mollison (center) and Amy Mollison. In the foreground Irene Burns, as a child, offers flowers to Amy. Note the bandage on the side of Mollison's head, the result of their earlier crash landing near Bridgeport.

Below, the invitation and program for the fête. The program is bound with faded blue string. On the cover, note the signatures of James and Amy Mollison, and another by Clarence Chamberlin (not a Register pilot). Chamberlin did own a Register airplane, however, the Lockheed Sirius NC13W.

 

 

Celebration, James Mollison & Amy Johnson, August 1, 1933 (Source: Burns)
Celebration, James Mollison & Amy Johnson, August 1, 1933 (Source: Burns)

The cover of this invitation is engraved and the flag motif is heavily relieved and embossed so that the surface feels as if the flags are waving (see the backside of the relief below).

Celebration, James Mollison & Amy Johnson, August 1, 1933 (Source: Burns)
Celebration, James Mollison & Amy Johnson, August 1, 1933 (Source: Burns)

The centerfold of the program, below, displays the menu and lists the people sitting at the table with the honored guests. "Mr. and Mrs. G. Palmer Putnam" are George Putnam and Amelia Earhart. The Second Vice-President of the sponsor, the Federation of Scottish Societies, is John B. Duncanson, who is the father of our site visitor who shares these documents and photos with us.

Celebration, James Mollison & Amy Johnson, August 1, 1933 (Source: Burns)
Celebration, James Mollison & Amy Johnson, August 1, 1933 (Source: Burns) Celebration, James Mollison & Amy Johnson, August 1, 1933 (Source: Burns)

We can hope, but probably in vain, that "Cream of Vegetables, Scotch Style" involved a float of some excellent single malt. It wouldn't be until December, 1933 that Prohibition was terminated. Below, the final facing pages of the program.

Celebration, James Mollison & Amy Johnson, August 1, 1933 (Source: Burns)
Celebration, James Mollison & Amy Johnson, August 1, 1933 (Source: Burns)

Below, the honorary medal is conferred on Mollison by the Second Vice-President, Mr. Duncanson in kilt and sporran. Mollison has removed his bandage. Amy Mollison is curiously missing from this photograph and the one following.

Honorary Medal, James Mollison, August 1, 1933 (Source: Burns)
Honorary Medal, James Mollison, August 1, 1933 (Source: Burns)

Below, a portrait of Mollison (seated, again sans bandage) and guests at the Federation of Scottish Societies affair. Besides Mr. Duncanson over Mollison's right shoulder, can anyone recognize any of the others?

Group Portrait, James Mollison, August 1, 1933 (Source: Burns)
Group Portrait, James Mollison, August 1, 1933 (Source: Burns)

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On January 11, 1935, Earhart became the first person, male or female, to fly solo eastbound across the Pacific from Honolulu, T.H. to Oakland, CA. She flew the Lockheed Vega NR965Y. Her airplane was equipped with radio equipment, as documented in the article, below, from Popular Aviation (PA) magizine, April, 1935.

Radio Equipment Installed in Lockheed Vega NR965Y, Popular Aviation, April, 1935 (Source: PA)
Radio Equipment Installed in Lockheed Vega NR965Y, Popular Aviation, April, 1935 (Source: PA)

Register pilot Paul Mantz was her technical advisor for the trans-Pacific flight. Compare this view into the rear fuselage of NR965Y with the views available at this video link for Lockheed Vega NC898E.

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George Palmer Putnam, Popular Aviation, March, 1939 (Source: PA)

 

Earhart was, of course, unsuccessful in her trans-Pacific attempt. She was last heard from on July 3, 1937 at 8:43AM local time. She was declared legally dead on January 5, 1939. Shortly after, her husband, right, was photographed about to embark on a commercial flight. Photo is from Popular Aviation (PA) magazine, March, 1939.

The question of why and where her plane went down, however, has never been put to rest. Among her Web links is more detail, speculation and tedious myth about her disappearance than you might want to read.

UPDATE OF 12/17/11 A new motion picture film, shot by his grandfather, Register pilot West E. Moreau, was shared with us by site visitor Marcus Moreau. You can see Earhart flying and posing by NR10620 in the motion picture film available at the link. The first three minutes of the film segment show Earhart arriving at Oakland, CA, deplaning and posing for photographs with various unidentified people.

Husband George Palmer Putnam in fedora appears in the film between 2:00 and 2:48. Final scenes show Earhart performing flyovers at Oakland under a cloudy sky.

We can speculate on the possible date for the film segment. Earhart's first attempt to circumnavigate the globe began at Oakland on March 17, 1937. The flooded runway and warm clothing on the people suggest somewhere near that date. Likewise, her second attempt departed Oakland for Miami sometime late in May. Again, with local humor, the flooded runway and warm clothing on the people suggest somewhere near that date.

Although this Lockheed, along with Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan, disappeared in the Pacific Ocean July 2, 1937, the airplane earlier shows up in the flight log book of Register pilot Elmer McLeod. Please direct your browser to the link to learn why.

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Site visitor Alan Thomas (see the MOTION PICTURES tab for other contributions by Lt. Col. Thomas) contributes the following anecdote about Earhart's visit to Tucson:

"You have noted that Amelia Earhart landed here on June 10, 1931 via the Beechnut Autogiro.  I saw that aircraft on the ground at the old municipal airfield that later became the current rodeo grounds.  I know it was a refueling stop and that she stayed here long enough to give an hour or so lecture one evening in the auditorium of the Tucson Senior High School ( the only high school that time).  I was a nine year old kid already fascinated with anything that flew, so I managed to get a ticket to the lecture.  The place was packed (500 or so) and I got a middle seat about six rows from the front.  She talked about her vision of the future of air travel and how Tucson should be ready for it.  At the end, she asked for questions from the audience.   The only question I remember  being asked was a woman asking if Amelia had done 'any looping and was it very dangerous?'  The answer was that she had only done 'some acrobatics', and there was really 'very little danger if done correctly.'   This nine year old kid then asked her how I should plan for a career in aviation.  I was told to get into building model airplanes and to read everything I could about aviation.   So that is what I did -- and you know the rest of the story! [Lt. Col. Thomas joined the Air Corps during WWII and flew the B-25 and B-24.  After the war he flew the B-29, B-50 and B-47.  His pilot license number is 64906]

" I should also add that after the lecture I got up on the stage to ask for her autograph.  She very obligingly did so in my little address book.  Over my school years I had later collected all my friends addresses in the book (mostly girls of course!).  Then when I came home from WWII and collected all my things to take to my own new home, I found that my dear Mother had cleaned out much of my stuff, including my address book with that autograph.  Well I had a new bride then, so she thought I would no longer need it!  What would that autograph be worth now? "

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Earhart held pilot certificate number 5716.

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UPLOADED: 07/31/08 REVISED: 03/03/11, 04/17/11, 07/05/11, 12/17/11, 06/29/14, 07/03/14

 
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I'm looking for unusual anecdotes and photographs involving Earhart. If you have any you would like to share, please let me KNOW.

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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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