Leo Nomis was born May 5, 1889 (one source says 1892) as Ernest Simon. He lived a short, but hazardous life. He was born with a gift of great dexterity and coordination, and built an early career performing stunts and making parachute drops from tethered balloons at fairs and carnivals.
As his notoriety increased, he changed his name to Nomis, because he didn't want newspaper reporters to have the option of calling him "Simple Simon" in print. Nomis, you have probably noted, is Simon spelled backwards. When he came to Hollywood, CA in 1914 to do motion picture stunt work, he changed his name legally to Leo Ernest Nomis.
Nomis landed twice at Tucson. The first time was Tuesday, August 18, 1928. He arrived in the Travel Air NC4419 carrying as passenger Bob Moore. Based at Santa Monica, CA, Clover Field, they arrived from El Paso, TX. Curiously they cited New York, NY as their destination. They noted in the remarks column of the Register, "Ferrying."
Below, a striking photograph of Nomis that comes to us from Register pilot Dick Ranaldi's page on this site. Nomis taught Ranaldi how to fly. Nomis appears to be wearing a fake beard.
Leo Nomis, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Ranaldi)
Nomis landed the second time on Tuesday, September 11, 1928, again carrying Moore as passenger in NC4419. This time they were westbound from El Paso to Yuma, AZ. No purpose was given for their flight in the Register. Please direct your browser to the airplane's page to learn about another landing made at Tucson by NC4419, this time flown by one-time owner Pancho Barnes. Nomis also taught Barnes how to fly.
During the 1920s and early 1930s, Nomis was a member of the elite Motion Pictures Pilots' Association. He suffered numerous injuries while plying his trade, as evidenced by his nose in the photograph above. He is cited numerous times in the book by Wynne found in the REFERENCES. Interestingly, according to aerofiles.com, Nomis flew in "The Flying Fool," (1929) starring William Boyd (aka Hopalong Cassidy), in which he flew a Travel Air 4000, which had a high probability of being our NC4419.
Nomis died February 5, 1932 in a crash while flying for the film "Sky Bride" starring Richard Arlen. He had performed earlier in some movies directed by the first owner of NC4419, Howard Hawks.
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