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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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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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RAY WILLIAM MURRELL

Ray Murrell, Student Pilot, Ca. Late 1920s (Source: Robert Murrell)
Ray Murrell, Student Pilot, Ca. Late 1920s (Source: Robert Murrell)

 

 

Ray Murrell landed once at the Davis-Monthan Airfield, on Sunday, February 23, 1936 at noon. Based at Pomona, CA, he arrived at Tucson from Globe, AZ. He was solo in the Travel Air NC477N. Additional information is at the link.

This poor photocopy, left, is of Murrell, probably in the late 1920s when he learned to fly. There is an inscription at the lower right of the photograph that says, "Ray Murrell, Student Pilot."

 

 

Below, he is shown in a vignette next to his airplane, NC477N. He purchased his airplane on March 4, 1935. These kinds of photographs were many times printed on postcards that were either handed out or sold to air show attendees.

Ray Murrell & Travel Air NC477N, Post-1935 (Source: Robert Murrell)
Ray Murrell & Travel Air NC477N, Post-1935 (Source: Robert Murrell)

Pilot Murrell shows up in the Newcastle (WY) News Letter-Journal of July 26, 1935. Below, he is named in an advertisement in that newspaper for an air show performance, flying an airplane that is very likely NC477N. The advertisment is below. Note Dorothy Barden (1903-1993).

Newcastle (WY) News Letter-Journal, July 26, 1935 (Source: Web)

According to tthe Mason City (IA) Globe-Gazette, June 8, 1936, a "B.V.D. Race" was one, "... in which the participants flew with a pilot around the course, clambered from the plane and then took off their trousers, went around the course again, clambered out and put on their trousers and then the ships circled the course again ...." Below, a photograph of Dorothy Barden with NC477N.

Dorothy Barden With NC477N, Ca. 1930s (Source: Robert Murrell)
Dorothy Barden With NC477N, Ca. 1939s (Source: Robert Murrell)

Murrell and Barden appear in photographs adhered to a scrapbook page, below. Neither of them wear the informal uniform of pilots of the era: jodhpurs and knee-high boots.

Ray Murrell & Dorothy Barden With NC477N, Ca. 1930s (Source: Robert Murrell)
Ray Murrell & Dorothy Barden With NC477N, Ca. 1930s (Source: Robert Murrell)

Apropos the advertisement and photographs above, is the brochure, below, shared by Robert Murrell. He states about the brochure, that it was, "a handbill for my uncle's aviation business based at the Pomona, California, airport.  The handbill has a note about the California Pacific International Exposition held in San Diego, California, during May 29, 1935–November 11, 1935.  My uncle advertised that he would provide a charter trip to the exposition for $20 (about $482 in 2015 dollars).  Based on this, the handbill was probably printed in 1935 or late 1934."

Murrell Aviation Business Handbill, Ca. 1934-35 (Source: Robert Murrell)
Murrell Aviation Business Handbill, Ca. 1934-35 (Source: Robert Murrell)

I have very little other information about Murrell. According to his death certificate, below, he was born in Wright County, MO on October 24, 1900. He remained unmarried and died in Springfield, MO (Greene County) on January 6, 1937 of acute nephritis. He was aged 36 years, 2 months and 12 days. If you have any information about pilot Murrell, please let me KNOW.

Ray W. Murrell Death Certificate, January 6, 1937 (Source: Woodling)

Pilot Murrell's nephew (right sidebar) contacted me in response to my request for information, above. He provides this information sheet about Ray Murrell, available as a PDF download (90Kb) at the link. Besides biographical information, this document includes an interesting list of airshows, with dates, Murrell participated in during 1936, the year before he died. Murrell also flew for three Hollywood movies in 1933, 1935 and 1936. Thanks to Mr. Murrell for compiling and sharing this information with us.

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED:11/28/13 REVISED: 09/12/15

 
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I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Murrell 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 Robert Murrell, Ray Murrell's nephew, for sharing information about his uncle, and to Bob Woodling for help researching this page.

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