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There is no biographical file for pilot Plummer in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), 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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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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WILLIAM GARDNER PLUMMER

Plummer was a 1925 West Point (USMA) graduate. He landed once at Tucson, Friday, January 18, 1929 at 2:30PM. He flew a de Havilland DH-4M2T that he identified as plane number "18." He carried as passenger fellow Register pilot J.Q. Adams. Based at Riverside, CA March Field, they arrived from Riverside and cited their destination as San Antonio, TX. They remained in Tucson overnight, resuming their flight the next morning at 10:00.

Below, from the Army Register for 1929, is his military record to-date. Plummer had a typical indoctrination and early training program.

Plummer's Military Record as of 1929 (Source: Woodling)
Plummer's Military Record as of 1929 (Source: Woodling)

 

William Gardner Plummer, USMA Yearbook, 1925 (Source: Woodling)
William Gardner Plummer, USMA Yearbook, 1925 (Source: Woodling)

 

At right is Plummer's USMA yearbook photograph and the obligatory tongue-in-cheek prose to send him on his way in the world. He appears to have been a warm-blooded singer, typically fond of female companionship, and one who did well in academics in spite of himself.

Unfortunately, after his landing at Tucson, Plummer had about six-months to live. An article, below, from the Salt Lake Tribune, Saturday, June 29, 1929, describes the unfortunate accident that led to his death. Neither Wallace or Letzig mentioned in the article signed the Tucson Register.

Army Planes Crash Over Field, Two Die.

RIVERSIDE, Cal., June 28 (AP).—
A collision of two United States army airplanes above March field here today sent a flying instructor and his student cadet to their death. The dead: Lieutenant William G. Plummer, 28, Mobile, Ala.; Cadet Cyrus Wallace. 22, San Gabriel, Cal.

The men died in the wreckage of their ship, which fell about 400 feet and was demolished. The second plane, piloted by Cadet Letzig, escaped
with little damage. The student maneuvered to a safe landing.

He was flying alone.
Observers said Wallace was leading a three formation plane flight. As the ships banked, Letzig apparently misjudged distance and the wing of
his plane brushed the tall controls of the ship in which Wallace and Plummer were flying. The contact unbalanced Wallace's ship and it dived into a tailspin.

Officials Believe Accident Unavoidable.
Army officials said they believed the accident was unavoidable. Plummer, who had planned to re-
sign next week for commercial aviation work, was the leader of a daring flight up the Grand canyon last fall in a search for the boat in which Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Hyde, an Idaho couple, attempted to negotiate the canyon rapids and presumably perished.

The flier sighted the boat and provided the only clue ever found to the couple's fate. Both men were unmarried. Plummer was a graduate of West Point in 1925 [right] and trained as a flying instructor at Kelly field, San Antonio, Texas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His exploit as pilot of the rescue flight alluded to at the end of the article above involved conducting a daring airplane search over the Grand Canyon the previous spring for Mr. and Mrs. Glenn Hyde. They became lost during their attempt to shoot the rapids of the Colorado River in a scow as part of their honeymoon celebration. Fellow Register passenger and pilot J.Q. Adams was involved in the search. The flyers found the boat used by the Hydes, and established the fact that the honeymooners had been drowned.

RENEW SEARCH FOR LOST PLANE
Craft With Film Actress Missing Since Last Wednesday

Los Angeles, Cal. Sept. 25—(AP)— Search by army planes and one privately owned airplane today had failed to bring any clues as to the whereabouts of the monoplane Spirit of Hollywood, missing since Wednesday, when piloted by Frank Tomick, of Venice. It hopped off from Santa Monica for Salt Lake City en route to Chicago, with Marion Mack, film actress, as a passenger. Two army planes, which hopped off yesterday from March field, Riverside, Cal., for Las Vegas, Nev., today started back to the army field. They covered the district about Las Vegas for a radius of 100 miles this morning without success. The army fliers, Lieuts. John R. Glasscock and William G. Plummer, said they probably would return to Las Vegas to continue the search tomorrow. Roy Wilson, owner of the Spirit of Hollywood, who yesterday flew over the desert seeking the lost plane and its passengers, hopped off on a new search this morning. He expected to establish a base at Barstow, Cal., or some other desert town and continue the hunt indefinitely. From the national guard air field here Lieut. George Sherwood hopped off shortly after noon today with seven hours of gasoline to aid in the search. The plane carried four homing pigeons, none of which had returned tonight. 

Riverside, Cal., Sept. 25—AP)—A search for the monoplane Spirit of Hollywood, which has been missing since Wednesday probably will be abandoned by army fliers from March field here. This was the opinion of the March field commanding officer today following the return of two planes piloted by Lieut John R. Glasscock, and William G. Plummer from an unsuccessful two-day search of the country surrounding Las Vegas, Nev. Lieut. Plummer reported that with thousands of square miles in which the Spirit of Hollywood might have landed or been forced down, even a half dozen planes would be unable to hunt the craft with any hope of success. He said the country was exceedingly rough and that there were few places where a plane might be landed and its passengers escape unhurt. There were many places, he said, where it would be certain death to land.  

 

Plummer also was involved in a search for a film star during the fall of 1927. The flight is summarized in the article, left, from the Sioux City (IA) Journal of Monday, September 26, 1927. Note that Register pilot George Sherwood also participated. A similar article appeared in the September 26, 1927 Portland Oregonian.

The outcome of this incident was positive. From the Waterloo (IA) Evening Courier for Tuesday, September 27, 1927, we find, below, that, after five days with no food or water, Mack and Wilson repaired their aircraft and flew out to Yermo, CA, a "little desert station."

MISSING ACTRESS FLIES OUT OF HOLE IN DEATH VALLEY

Marion Mack and Pilot Safe After Repairing Disabled Airplane.

Hollywood, Cal.. Sept. 27.—(INS) —Safe, after being stranded five days in the burning sands of Death Valley, Marion Mack, film actress, and her pilot, Capt. Frank Tomick, who were forced down with their plane, "The Spirit of Hollywood" while attempting a flight from Clover Field to Chicago, were expected to return home today. First word of the lost fliers, who had been missing since last Wednesday, was received here yesterday, when they flew into Yermo, Cal. 

Go Down in Desert
Near exhaustion from hunger and thirst, they told of having gone down in the desert with engine trouble two hours after taking off.  Leaving their disabled ship, the fliers started to climb out of the death hole, but after wandering over the sand dunes, decided to return to their plane. Finally they succeeded in repairing the plane sufficiently to take off again yesterday morning. 

Husband to Rescue.
They landed safe at the little desert station, where they were given food, and. water. Louis Lewyn, husband of the aviatrix, flew to her rescue in a chartered plane yesterday and expected to return with the two fliers today.  Miss Mack and her pilot were carrying felicitations from the film colony to Jack Dempsey when they were forced down.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yermo is still a small desert station just east of the intersection of Interstates 40 and 15, and just north of the Union Pacific railroad tracks. Significant landmarks discernable with Google Earth show a large solar power plant a couple of miles south, an unpaved landing strip, a paved airport with two major runways, and an irrigated farm area.

W.G. Plummer Grave Marker, 1929 (Source: Woodling)
W.G. Plummer Grave Marker, 1928 (Source: Woodling)

 

Plummer's grave marker is at right. Born August 27, 1902 in Virginia, Plummer, like a few other Register pilots, left us early. He did not enjoy a long life, with the associated development of a flying career we can read and wonder about today, or with the honors and records such as seen among his Register colleagues.

If you have further information about pilot Plummer, and/or photographs, please let me KNOW.

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 05/16/12 REVISED: 07/28/16

 
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I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Plummer to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.

Thanks to Guest Editor Bob Woodling for help researching this page.

OTHER BOOKS FOR YOU

Military Aircraft of the Davis Monthan Register, 1925-1936 is available at the link. This book describes and illustrates with black & white photographs the majority of military aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield between 1925 and 1936. The book includes biographies of some of the pilots who flew the aircraft to Tucson as well as extensive listings of all the pilots and airplanes. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-2-5.

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