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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.


There is no biographical file for pilot Mayse in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC.


The Tucson Citizen. Tucson, AZ. Various dates, cited, right.

Abbey, Sue. “The Man Who Lived to Fly; The Story of Charley Mayse-Arizona Pioneer Aviator’’ . Journal of Arizona History. 15 (Winter 1974). 373-90.


An excellent read for understanding the history of aviation in Arizona is provided by Ruth M. Reinhold's 1982 book entitled, "Sky Pioneering: Arizona in Aviation History" (University of Arizona Press, Tucson. ISBN 0-8165-0737-6). She cites Mayse in many places in her book. The image of Mayse and Santa is from page 71.


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Charles W. "Charley" Mayse was a frequent signer of the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register. His signature, and those of his passengers, including Ernest Wickersham, below, appears ten times between February 15, 1926 and May 8, 1932. It is surprising that his name doesn't appear more frequently, as he was a local Tucson aviator who operated out of our Airfield and gave flight instruction there.

C.W. Mayse, December 1923

In the image above, Mayse is to the left, behind Santa Claus, in this photo taken in 1923 at Douglas, AZ. The Shell Oil Company provided candy for the local children in exchange for advertising on the lower wing of Mayse's Hisso Standard.

The image, below, shows Mayse in Stetson hat. The date of the image is unknown, but it is after June 1923, when Lola and Charlie were married. Image courtesy of friend, Andy Heins. The aircraft in the background is a Waco cabin-type, which Mayse had sold to the McElroys.

L to R, Clarence McElroy, Charles Mayse and wife, Lola, and Gordon McElroy
Clarence McElroy, Charles Mayse and wife, Lola, Gordon McElroy

It is interesting to note that at least three of Mayse's landings were greeted with inspections by the U.S. Border Patrol. In the Remarks column of the Register appears the notation, "Inspected Robert R. Budlong Patrol Inspector". No reason was given for the inspections, nor was any apparent, given that Mayse's itineraries on these flights were not trans-border.

Tucson Citizen, 11/1/25

At left, an early article in the Tucson Citizen of November 1, 1925 describes pilot Mayse giving an airplane ride to a local cattleman. This article precedes by just a few months the first signing of the Register by Mayse (on February 15, 1926). The "Standard airplane" referred to in the article is most likely the one Mayse landed with on February 15, 19/26 and on March 1, 1926. At this time, the Airfield was at its South 6th Avenue location (on the corner of Irvington Rd.). The Standard could also be the one pictured above.

At the time of this article, Mayse "is back .... to remain in Tucson for the winter...." from his home in Salt Lake City, UT. W.C. Maus, mentioned in the article, only shows up in the Register once as a passenger with Glover Johns years later, sometime between early April and mid-May 1934.

Maus died shortly thereafter. According to a site visitor, he seems to have been the victim of the November 9, 1935 crash of Braniff's Vega 5C NC980Y (not a Register airplane). The report on the crash is in the Embry-Riddle archive only, not the DOT archive. It lists the pilot as "William C. Maus of Waco, Texas". This was a nighttime ferry flight with no passengers. Visibility got extremely bad, and for some reason Maus apparently tried to attempt a landing rather than fly to a field with better conditions. In the process, he dived the airplane into the ground.

There wasn't a whole lot going on at the Tucson Airfield during these years. Another article from the Citizen, dated July 28, 1927, cites the purchase of an aircraft by local linotype operator, E.R. Griswold (didn't sign the Register). The article states, "With this plane on the ground, the number will be exactly two...." airplanes on the field. The relevance of this article is that Griswold was not a pilot, and, "...he admits that the intricacies of an airplane are still a mystery to him, but he hopes to solve these under the tutelage of Carl [sic] Mayse this fall. Mayse is a professional in the air game, and has been teaching aviation for a number of years, along with his commercial flying."

In another article published in the Tucson Citizen on October 14, 1927, Mayse and Gilbert Sykes, a parachute jumper and a pilot whom Mayse had taught to fly, are found flying and jumping at an air show at Duncan, AZ.

By one account (Abbey reference, left sidebar) Mayse was undereducated, profane, opinionated, sexist and impulsive. But enough flattery. The life he carved absorbed these shortcomings and left him a well-known character in southwest Golden Age aviation. He is mentioned numerous times in the Reinhold reference, left sidebar.

His ownership of Curtiss Oriole 2728 demonstrated his impulsiveness, with a modest regard for aviation safety. For that Oriole he, “remodeled the engine section with steel tubing, put on DeHavilland axle and widened the wheel tread (750x125 wheels-900x200 tires). Put on wind-driven gasoline pump from Martin bomber.”

Mayse died on July 4, 1950, at age 64 (although I have seen notation that his birth was during 1889, which would have made him 61), in Douglas, AZ where he had moved in 1935 to operate that city's municipal airport and a flight training school. He also operated private charter flights into Mexico and was a sales representative for Waco aircraft (see NC863V. This airplane was brokered by Mayes, and is still flying as of June 15, 2010).

Ernest Wickersham, Chief Cintotie of the San Carlos Apaches and Charlie Mayse with Wickersham's J-5 Waco in Safford, AZ (Source: ASL)
Ernest Wickersham, Chief Cintotie of the San Carlos Apaches and Charlie Mayse with Wickersham's J-5 Waco in Safford, AZ (Source: ASL)

At right, from the Arizona State Library (ASL) collection, are Ernie Wickersham, Chief Cintotie of the San Carlos Apaches and Charlie Mayse with Wickersham's J-5 Waco in Safford, AZ just before Mayse took, off for the Transcontinental Air Tour. It wasn't clear from the ASL what Air Tour was referred to in the photo caption. Mayes was not among the list of participants in the 1928 National Air Tour (Ford Reliability Tour), which did pass through Tucson that year.

Wickersham landed once at Tucson as pilot in command on March 16, 1926. He landed as a passenger with Mayse on half of his ten landings at Tucson. I have no other information about Wickersham. If you can help, please let me KNOW.


Dossier 2.1.25

UPLOADED: 03/01/06 REVISED: 05/03/07, 11/18/08, 06/15/10, 01/02/14

The Register
The Tucson Daily Citizen of July 13, 1968 states that Mayse's wife had written a complete biography of him and had submitted it to Little, Brown & Co. Publishers. I could find no reference to this book. Does anyone know if it was published, or if the manuscript is available anywhere?

---o0o--- Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of and the 10th year of effort on a 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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