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Some of this information comes from the biographical file for pilot Rhodes, CR-301000-01, reviewed by me 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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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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CLARENCE RAY "DUSTY" RHODES

"ILLEGAL FUR RACKET"

It's not an Indy band.

C.R. Rhodes landed twice at Tucson in two diffferent airplanes. He carried the same passenger, M.S. Kingston, each time. Their first visit was in the Ryan B-1 Brougham NC4941 (S/N 95). Based at Eveleth, MN, they arrived from Lordsburg, NM on Wednesday, November 21, 1928 at 9:10AM. Their destination this day was San Diego, CA. Rhodes also brought this airplane to Clover Field on March 25, 1929 at 12:30PM. He identified the airplane as being owned by "Kingston Rhodes, Inc."

Their second landing was over a year later on Saturday, December 21, 1929. This time they were southeast-bound, arriving from Los Angeles, CA and headed toward Shreveport, LA. They flew in the Ryan B-5 Brougham NC380K (S/N 217). They left no clues in the Register as to the purpose(s) of their flights.

"Pilot Rhodes," Minnesota, Date Unknown (Source: Bill)
"Pilot Rhodes," Minnesota, Date Unknown (Source: Bill)

Photo, right, is courtesy of site visitor Bill, whose grandmother collected this card one day in Minnesota. He says about it, "I came across the attached card in my grandmother's documents.  She and her brother lived in Minnesota in the late teens and early '20s.  I was trying to find out more information about Pilot Rhodes on the internet when I came across your site."  

The card is a souvenir commemorating a flight with a "Pilot Rhodes." Comparing a known photo of Rhodes with this one, the person in the photo is our Dusty Rhodes. Chances were good there weren't many other pilots in Minnesota named Rhodes with state pilot license #6 in those days. Note that this is a state-issued license. The photo is either from before 1926, when the federal government began issuing pilot certificates and establishing competence standards for aviators, or after 1926, and his Minnesota rating is included for veracity.

New York Sun, January 6, 1930 (Source: NASM)
New York Sun, January 6, 1930 (Source: NASM)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another bit of information in his NASM file is an article, left, from the New York Sun of Monday, January 6, 1930. This gives a clue to Rhodes' connection with his passenger Kingston. It seems they were operating a transport operation out of Eleveth, MN. We can imagine the January weather there, and the flexibility a pilot would need to meet schedules. The article gives no clue whether the airplane was NC4941 or NC380K.

Regardless, according to the 1930 U.S. Census, Rhodes was 44 years old and living in Virginia, MN with is wife, Lucinda (age 42) and their son Ray B. (14). His employment was listed as "Aviator" for "Airways Co." The "Airways Co." was probably "Kingston and Rhodes Airways, Inc." (see below). He owned his home at 802 6th Street valued at $3,000.

The photograph below, shared by site visitor G. Clifford, shows NC4941 on floats. We can assume it was brought through Tucson with the pontoons removed. Note that the airplane is named "Spirit of St. Louis County," and that it is owned by "Kingston and Rhodes Airways, Inc." Mr. Clifford says of the photograph, "The ... picture is from an album belonging to Katherine "Kate"  (Bowser) Randolph.... [It shows the] 'Spirit of St Louis County' when it was at the dock in front of Kate's Borderland Lodge in Crane Lake, MN."

Ryan NC4941, Crane Lake, MN, Date Unknown (Source: Clifford)
Ryan NC4941, Crane Lake, MN, Date Unknown (Source: Clifford)

 

In the early 1930s, Rhodes was involved with illegal fur trade in Minnesota. The Minnesota Volunteer, November-December 1987, published an article about the activities of early conservation officers in Minnesota. You can download the article, entitled "Our Pioneer Wardens," at the link (PDF 6Mb). A quote from the article, set off in the box, below left, summarizes Rhodes' role. Mr. Clifford states, "I always wondered why 'Dusty' moved to Michigan.  This story (page 21) provides a good reason." Indeed, residence records for 1935 cite his domicile as Buena Vista, Saginaw, Michigan

And further he states, "M.S. Kinston was Merton Stephen Kingston (1881-1941), one of the heirs to the Kingston Mining Company in Evelyth, MN." The notation that his employer went south or west for the winter also may explain why their destinations from Tucson were west-coast locations.

C.R. Dusty Rhodes, 1885-1983 (Source: Clifford)

"The illegal fur racket was so lucrative that the criminal element quickly adopted new technology, namely the
seaplane or skiplane. A legendary character in the late 1920s was C.R. "Dusty" Rhoades [sic], personal pilot for an Iron Range mining official. His employer often went south or west for the winter leaving Dusty with the plane, of which he made imaginative use.

Scattering illegal trappers throughout the northern Minnesota lake country, Dusty allegedly developed a regular milk run, picking up illegal pelts by the hundreds. Legend has it that Dusty became so bold as to "bomb" the Game and Fish Department headquarters at Winton with skinned beaver carcasses.

A raiding party of eight game wardens surrounded Rhoades home in Virginia on the night of May 18, 1931. Rhoades had stored most of the furs in an automobile parked some distance away. One member of the raiding party left his post, allowing Rhoades to slip out of the house, reach the car, and make a getaway."

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is not clear where he went after his "getaway," or if he was ever caught or prosecuted. However, seven months later a report of Admissions and Rejections at the Port of Fort Frances, Ontario, Canada for the month of January, 1932 records on January 25th his rejection for admission into Canada. He carried $35 in his pocket and arrived via the "bridge." He identified his wife by name (she wasn't with him), his U.S. address in Virginia, MN and identified his occupation as "aviator." The reason for his rejection was "Sec. 3ss y&d" barely readable on the form. He did not appeal the decision. Does anyone KNOW the meaning of "Sec. 3ss y&d?"

C.R. Rhodes, Draft Registration, 1942 (Source: Clifford)
C.R. Rhodes, Draft Registration, 1942 (Source: Clifford)

 

The 1940 U.S. Census placed him and his wife on Dixie Highway, Saginaw, MI. He had been out of work for 24 weeks as an automobile mechanic. She was unemployed at age 52. No mention was made in the Census of their son, who would have been 24 years old and probably living on his own.

Rhodes' 1942 draft registration card, left, placed him in Saginaw again, operating a "Finnish Steam Bath." The back of this card cited his weight as 180 pounds, his height as 5'11" and complexion as "sallow." He had completed schooling through 4th grade.

C.R. Rhodes has no Web presence that I could find. I have no other photographs of pilot Rhodes. If you can help in this regard, please contact me at the link at the top of the right sidebar. I could find no significant information after 1942. The Saginaw City Directory for 1955 listed him and Lucinda as proprietors of "C-R Steam Headed Modern Cabins." It appears after his "getaway" he abandoned flying for occupations that attracted less trouble.

C.R. Rhodes was born November 7, 1885 at Verndale, MN. He died at age 97 on February 13, 1983 at Alpena, MI. In his death record, his occupation was recorded as "Air Transport Pilot" although he hadn't practiced the art for nearly half a century. According to information he recorded in the Clover Field Register, he flew with pilot certificate number 3970. He was both a bold and an old pilot.

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Dossier 2.1.140

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 10/23/11 REVISED: 01/15/13, 10/16//14

 
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'm looking for photographs of pilot Rhodes and his airplanes 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 site visitor G. Clifford for help building this page.

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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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Art Goebel's Own Story by Art Goebel (edited by G.W. Hyatt) is written in language that expands for us his life as a Golden Age aviation entrepreneur, who used his aviation exploits to build a business around his passion.  Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-1-8.

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Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race is available at the link. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. What was it like to fly from Oakland to Honolulu in a single-engine plane during August 1927? Was the 25,000 dollar prize worth it? Did the resulting fame balance the risk? For the first time ever, this book presents the pilot and navigator's stories written by them within days of their record-setting adventure. Pilot Art Goebel and navigator William V. Davis, Jr. take us with them on the Woolaroc, their orange and blue Travel Air monoplane (NX869) as they enter the hazardous world of Golden Age trans-oceanic air racing. ISBN 978-0-9843074-3-2.

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