William Hampton was born near the turn of the century. He
died in an airplane crash October 28, 1932. Depending
upon which newspaper you read, he was somewhere between 30
and 33 years old.
A U.S. Marine during WWI, local newspapers praised him as
a “hero”. He
enlisted April 10, 1917 at San Antonio, TX and trained at
Parris Island, SC. After training, he was stationed
briefly at Portsmouth, NH, returned to Parris Island, and
was shipped to Brest, France for service on the Chateau Thierry
front from June 13 to July 12, 1918.
According to the San Antonio Evening News of October 22,
1919, then Sgt. Hampton received the Croix de Guerre for
bravery after he led his platoon (other officers had been
wounded), “…and succeeded in capturing a machine
gun nest which was an important strategical position.”
It is not clear when he left military service or when he
learned to fly (one news article suggests he learned to fly
in the military). Only one small society article in
the Modesto News-Herald of March 18, 1927 cites him and his
wife as guests at the Ford Kreiz home. Regardless,
now comes one of those interesting juxtapositions, where
the beat and sway of the Davis-Monthan Register comes into
brief focus, then out again.
Below is an image of William Hampton standing in front of
a de Havilland aircraft (NR3494; not a Register airplane)
taken at Long
Beach Airport. At his feet is an aerial
camera. The picture is dated 1929. At this time
(corroborated by information contained in the ownership records
for NR3494), Hampton was a principal of the Continental Air
Map Company of Los Angeles. The Nevada State Journal of October 29, 1932 cites him as making, “…some
of the first aerial maps…” of the western United
William Hampton, ca. 1929
Image, above, courtesy of the Russell T. Gerow Collection. Please
direct your browser to the link to learn about Continental Air Map and fellow aerial
photographer Russell T. Gerow. Here you will find the
thread of connections between the people, airplanes, aerial
activities and events that swirled through the Davis-Monthan
Airfield is a rich and rewarding topic of study. Take time
to enjoy the images and stories there.
Marketing Advertisement, December 5, 1930 (Source: Gerow)
As of the early 1930s, Hampton ran the Hampton Flying School
Field, Los Angeles, CA and was a representative
for the Aero Brokerage Company of Inglewood, CA. He also operated a small airline between Bakersfield and Los Angeles. At right, from The Bakersfield (CA) Californian, a small advertisement from December 5, 1930. He offered "get-acquainted" rides in an Ogden Osprey for a dollar. Compare this ad with what is written about him in his obituary, below.
This marketing campaign followed the announcement in the following article from The Bakersfield Californian of November 13, 1930. It was headlined, "KERN COUNTY GETS NEW AIRLINE SERVICE." Note mention of Register pilot Henry Ogden.
New Airline, The Bakersfield Californian, November 13, 1930 (Source: Gerow)
Fare Reduction, The Bakersfield Californian, November 24, 1930 (Source: Gerow)
Business must have been either very good or very slow, because, left, the airline lowered its fares almost immediately as cited in this short article from The Bakersfield Californian of November 24, 1930. We would have to guess the latter as the Great Depression deepened.
landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield August 24, 1932 westbound
from Yuma, AZ to El Paso, TX. He carried a single passenger,
G. Wilkinson. They were flying Curtiss Robin NC7499.
Wilkinson, of El Segundo, CA, was the owner of NC7499. It
is not clear if their visit was under the aegis of Aero Brokerage.
You can see an image on
this site of this airplane at about the time it was owned
by Santa Maria Air Lines.
At Tucson, Hampton had about another two months of flying
to go in his life. He
was assigned by Aero in October 1932 to retrieve (repossess)
an aircraft from Logan, UT. He
departed Logan and headed west. He landed at Reno,
NV to hand the airplane over to fellow pilot Ted Morrill. Morrill
was late, so Hampton decided to complete the ferry himself
and began his final leg to Oakland, CA.
News Article, 1932
Southwestbound near Cisco, CA he suffered engine failure
and sought a place to land safely in the mountains. He
was unsuccessful. As his wing caught a tree, the airplane
wheeled around and crashed. He suffered fatal head
injuries. Image, above,
from the Oakland Tribune, Saturday, October 29, 1932. This link accounts briefly for his marriage to Sarah Ruth Russell, 1904 - 1982, (scroll down near the bottom of the page). Below, news of Hampton's crash from the October 29, 1932 issue of The Bakersfield (CA) Californian.
Hampton Crash News, The Bakersfield Californian, October 29, 1932 (Source: Gerow)
Below is the crash scene from The Hayward (CA) Review, November 2, 1932.
William Hampton Crash Scene, November 2, 1932 (Source: Gerow)
UPLOADED: 07/19/07 REVISED: 06/08/09, 06/30/11