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This information comes from the biographical file for the Hunter Brothers , CH-845000-01, reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC.

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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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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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Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register
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THE HUNTER BROTHERS:

ALBERT, JOHN, KENNETH AND WALTER

The four Hunter brothers, Albert, John, Kenneth ("Beans") and Walter, visited the Davis-Monthan Airfield on July 20, 1930. They had completed at Chicago (actually by circling the Sky Harbor Airport in Northbrook, IL, just north of Chicago) a record air-to-air refueled endurance record on July 4th of 553 hours, 41 minutes, 30 seconds (that's over 23 DAYS aloft!).

There is considerable information about the Hunter brothers on this Web site, which won't be repeated here. See this link for access to other images of the brothers and their airplanes; see these links for information about their pair of endurance airplanes, Stinson Detroiters NR5189, "The City of Chicago" and NR5326, "Big Ben". See this link for information about what remains of the Sky Harbor Airport. And this one for photographs of Sky Harbor. Search for "Sky Harbor Airport" on the home page.

The brothers brought these airplanes to Tucson for the first time on July 20, 1930. NR5326 was piloted by Kenneth Hunter, with brother Albert as passenger. They arrived from San Diego Rockwell Field, headed back to Los Angeles. They flew as a flight of three with brother John flying the record setting airplane, NR5189, and a passenger Herbert Budd flying with brother Walter in Travel Air NC5241. They stayed in Tucson overnight, leaving the next day.

This image from the New York Times, below, shows what it was like to maintain the engine of "The City of Chicago" during the endurance flight. A special catwalk was built with handholds around the nose of the airplane to allow access to key lubrication sites. The casual stance of Kenneth Hunter (John is in the cockpit looking at us) belies the fact that this airplane is aloft and at speed. Compare this image with the image link above.

Kenneth on Catwalk During Flight (Source: NASM)
Kenneth on Catwalk

I have had a conversation with Hershel Hunter, the son of Albert. He provides information about his father and uncles as follows. His father, after the endurance flight, worked in trucking, farming and moving houses and heavy equipment. Below, courtesy of site contributor Andy Heins, is a photograph of Walter.

Walter Hunter, Ca. 1930 (Source: Heins)
Walter Hunter, Ca. 1930 (Source: Heins)

 

Walter Hunter, January 18,1938 (Source: REFERENCE)
January 18,1938 (Source: REFERENCE)

 

 

 

Uncle Kenneth won a WWII contract to fly aircraft to England, but instead went to work for Lockheed as a test pilot, where he knew Tony LeVier, another Davis-Monthan Register record setter. Uncle Kenneth was badly burned in an accident at Lockheed, then went with Kerr-McGee as a corporate pilot. He was killed in a Saberliner crash in 1974 when he crashed during landing approach. Below, courtesy of Mr. Hayes (cited, right sidebar) is the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report of the crash. In cold and disconnected language the Board analysis points to the cause of most air crashes: pilot error.

Uncle Walter went with American Airways. At left is a photograph of Walter from this REFERENCE dated January 18,1938 while he was working for American Airlines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NTSB Identification: FTW74AF055
14 CFR Part 91 General Aviation
Event occurred Tuesday, January 15, 1974 in OKLAHOMA CTY, OK
Aircraft: N.AMERICAN NA-265, registration: N5565


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 FILE    DATE          LOCATION                    AIRCRAFT DATA               INJURIES       

3-0136  74/1/15    OKLAHOMA CTY,OKLA     N5565 N.AMERICAN NA-265   CR-  2  0  0  

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FLIGHT                          PILOT DATA  F  S M/N         PURPOSE

NONCOMMERCIAL   COMMERCIAL, FL.INSTR.,  PX-  0  0  0  CORP/EXEC
        TIME - 0600         AGE 65, 21500 TOTAL HOURS, 

                                       2000 IN TYPE INSTRUMENT RATED.

DAMAGE-DESTROYED    OT-  0  0  0                            ,
                                                                             
NAME OF AIRPORT - WILL ROGERS

DEPARTURE POINT             INTENDED DESTINATION
CORPUS CHRISTI,TEX          OKLAHOMA CTY,OKLA

TYPE OF ACCIDENT                                                               PHASE OF OPERATION
COLLISION WITH GROUND/WATER: CONTROLLED      LANDING: FINAL APPROACH

PROBABLE CAUSE(S)
PILOT IN COMMAND - IMPROPER IFR OPERATION

FACTOR(S)
           MISCELLANEOUS ACTS,CONDITIONS - INSTRUMENTS-MISREAD OR FAILED TO READ
           MISCELLANEOUS ACTS,CONDITIONS - CREW COORDINATION-POOR
           WEATHER - LOW CEILING
           WEATHER - FOG
           MISCELLANEOUS ACTS,CONDITIONS - PILOT FATIGUE

WEATHER BRIEFING - BRIEFED BY WEATHER BUREAU PERSONNEL, IN PERSON

WEATHER FORECAST - FORECAST SUBSTANTIALLY CORRECT
        SKY CONDITION                                            CEILING AT ACCIDENT SITE
          OBSCURATION                                               0
        VISIBILITY AT ACCIDENT SITE                     PRECIPITATION AT ACCIDENT SITE
          1/4 MILE OR LESS                                         NONE
        OBSTRUCTIONS TO VISION AT ACCIDENT SITE                  TEMPERATURE-F
          FOG                                                                                                 33
        WIND DIRECTION-DEGREES          WIND VELOCITY-KNOTS
          200                                                       6
        TYPE OF WEATHER CONDITIONS                 TYPE OF FLIGHT PLAN
          BELOW MINIMUMS                                           IFR

FIRE AFTER IMPACT

REMARKS- ILS APCH,BLO MIN.DESCND BLO MDA. CREW HAD LITTLE REST BFOR FLT.CTLR DIDNT MONITOR ACFT ALT ON RADAR

What is clear from the NTSB report is that pilot Hunter was very experienced with his airplane. However, at the end of a long day it appears that he was tired, had "get-home-itis," misjudged the weather and his abilities, and flew his airplane into instrument weather conditions that proved untenable, and illegal, for his intended landing.

Continuing, Uncle John had a mail run between Evansville, IN and Chicago, IL. He was killed at age 26 on June 28,1932 at Rosedale, MS by a prop strike while attempting to untie an amphibian plane from the dock. Site visitor Robert Hayes (right sidebar, see his other contributions, below) states about the accident, "John Hunter and a partner were successful bidders on an air mail contract from New Orleans to Pilot Town, Louisiana in June, 1932.  John purchased four amphibious airplanes to use on the contract.  On Sunday, June 29, 1932, John, Walter and Kenneth took off from Chester, Illinois headed to New Orleans.  They stopped at Rosedale, Mississippi to refuel their airplanes.
While there, a thunderstorm came up and they were forced to spend the night.

"On Monday morning, they arose and prepared to continue to New Orleans.  I think John was flying an Ireland N-1B Neptune with a Wright J-5 pusher engine.  After starting the motor, he neglected to untie the tail of the airplane from the dock.  He crawled out of the cockpit and proceeded to go and untie the tail.  He was struck in the head by the spinning propeller and fell into the river.  It required several hours to locate and remove his body from the river.  It is not difficult to understand why John, with the flying experience he had, could make such a bad decision.  For one, this was probably the first airplane with a pusher engine that John ever flew. Second, they were behind schedule and rushing to make up for the lost time. After recovering John's body and notifying the family, Walter and Kenneth made the arrangements to have the body returned to Sparta.  John's funeral was held in Sparta on Thursday.

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Update of 02/10/10 The following twelve candid photographs come to us from Dorothy Jensen Sweeter. These photos, each about 2.5" x 4.0" snapshots in the original, came to her through her uncle. She shares them with us with thanks to her uncle, and says she is, "... just interested in preserving history--even if it is in little bits!" And further, "My uncle was Ludvig O. Jensen of Geddes, SD and later Grand Forks, ND." According to journalist Robert Hayes (see below), these photographs were probably taken at Yankton, SD. His review of the brothers' flight log book indicates they visited Yankton on August 11, 1930.

Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)
Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)

Indeed, these "little bits" of history show us a couple of things. The photos capture the brothers during a moment in time on the ground in South Dakota on their journey west. The purpose of the trip was, in the wake of their freshly set endurance record, to go to Los Angeles, CA to make a movie. In a conversation I had with Hershel Hunter, Albert's son (who was five years old at the time of his father's and uncle's record), he said the trip west was to appear in a Hollywood movie with Will Rogers about endurance flying. But the trumping of their record by Jackson and O'Brine the following day cancelled Hollywood's interest (see the links to the brothers' airplanes for details).

Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)
Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)

Note the "City of Chicago" being fueled from a can through a funnel. Note also the fuel receiver hose on top of the fuselage over the words, "City of...." Compare this photo to the aerial view of the fueler hose at the Cosgrove Collection, top image.

Another lesson to gain from these images is the fact that these pilots and airplanes, and the record they set, were very attractive to a lot of people. Ms. Sweeter says, "About half the [photographs] have the planes in them.  But they are good records of the time.  As many people as are there, I think they must have known about this in advance.  Remember this is a very rural area." 

Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)
Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)

South Dakota in 1930 wasn't a very populated state, yet in these photos we see probably a few hundred people crowded around for a look at a "little bit" of history. Note the ferris wheel in the background, left. This must have been a fairground. The biplane on the left is probably the Travel Air NC5241 flown to Tucson by Walter Hunter.

Caption, Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)
Caption, Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)
 

This stamp is on the back of all the photographs. The film processing and printing were performed in Parkston, SD. Parkston is in the next county northwest of Yankton. Below, perhaps the arrival of the trio at Yankton.There appear to be a couple of haystacks in the background at right.

Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)
Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)

Below, the gentleman looks like Kenneth Hunter. Compare his shoes with the ones in the Cosgrove Collection link cited above.

Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)
Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)

Below, the latest headgear fashions. Note how dressed up people were: neckties, heels, jackets.

Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)
Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)

Below, something interests husband, wife and three daughters off the left of the photo.

Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)
Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)

Below, another view of the "City of Chicago" refueling hose. Note what looks like a piece of fabric lying across the top of the funnel. This is probably a chamois, which was used to filter fuel. Gasoline supplies during the Golden Age were spotty in quality, and most times a chamois (sometimes two layers!) was used to keep solids and water from entering aircraft fuel tanks (the water would be differentially absorbed by the chamois before it could enter the tank).

Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)
Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)

Below, there is another biplane on the far left. There is a number on the top of the wing that looks like NC8287 or 6267; can't tell for sure, but either way, it's not a Register airplane. What a great way to spend a dusty, late summer afternoon in South Dakota in 1930.

Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)
Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)

Below, a good profile of "Big Ben", the refueling craft. The young man at left holds a steel fence post, which apparently was never put in place. Note above, in the second image down in this series, the other fence posts lying on the ground.

Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)
Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)

Below, our final Jensen photograph of the "City of Chicago" in profile. The cord running left to right could be an electrical cord, or it could be a fencing rope that never got placed on the posts. These lucky people got to experience the sight, sound and smell of these special airplanes.

Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)
Hunter Brothers Yankton, SD, August 11, 1930 (Source: Sweeter)

Thanks to Dorothy Jensen Sweeter and her uncle for photos of the Hunter Brothers and their aircraft on the ground in South Dakota, Summer, 1930. Below, from site visitor Joe Kranz, are two U.S. postal cachets. The first is signed by John and Kenneth, July 16, 1930; the second, from April 8, 1932, signed by Walter Hunter. The first commemorates the endurance flight by the brothers (note elapsed time in upper left corner). It was signed days before the brothers visited Tucson.

Hunter Brothers, U.S. Postal Cachet, July 16, 1930 (Source: Kranz)
Hunter Brothers, U.S. Postal Cachet, July 16, 1930 (Source: Kranz)

This cachet commemorates the New Orleans Carnival of the Air at the Wedell-Williams Airport in Patterson, LA.

U.S. Postal Cachet, Walter Hunter, April 8, 1932 (Source: Kranz)
U.S. Postal Cachet, Walter Hunter, April 8, 1932 (Source: Kranz)

 

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Update of 08/20/10 Thanks to journalist Robert H. Hayes for sharing the synthesis of news articles (PDF 68.4KB) he authored during April, 2010. He says of his articles, "The County Journal is a local newspaper serving Randolph, Perry and Jackson Counties in Southern Illinois.  The paper is published by Willis Publishing Inc.  1101 East Pine, P.O. Box 369, Percy, Illinois 62272.  The articles appeared in Volume 31, number 13, 14 15 and 16 published April 1, 2010 through April 22, 2010." The articles are also available online at the link.

His articles comprise a biographical sketch of the Hunter Brothers. Among Register pilots who crossed their path is Charles Lindbergh, Charles S. “Casey” Jones and Jimmy Doolittle. Writer Hayes' description of the endurance flight is especially detailed. Thanks to Mr. Hayes for his contribution. Below, courtesy of Andy Heins, is a photograph of Walter Hunter, Irene Hunter and Albert.

Walter, Irene and Albert Hunter, Ca. 1930 (Source: Heins)
Walter, Irene and Albert Hunter, Ca. 1930 (Source: Heins)

Below, courtesy of site visitor Jeff Staines is a photograph of all the Hunter brothers with sister. They stand in front of the "City of Chicago."

Hunter Brothers & Sister (Source: Staines)
Hunter Brothers & Sister (Source: Staines)

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Dossier 2.1.102

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 01/05/07 REVISED: 02/12/07, 10/08/09, 02/10/10, 08/20/10, 06/16/11, 06/28/11, 07/02/11, 09/12/11, 09/14/11, 02/25/14

As of 02/02/10, this page is Google Rank #7.

 
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Thanks to Hershel Hunter, son of Albert Hunter, who provided anecdotes for this page.

Thanks also to Tim Kalina for links to Sky Harbor Airport.

Thanks to Dorothy Jensen Sweeter for photos of the Hunter Brothers and their aircraft on the ground in South Dakota.

And to journalist Robert Hayes for his articles about the Hunter Brothers' lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Here, from page 225 of the 1922 Montgomery Ward Catalog is an ad for a hat that looks, wide band and all, very much like the one on the gentleman immediately to the left.

Staple Dress Hat
Staple Dress Hat

$2.95 for the hat; 7-cents for the shipping.

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