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Some of this information comes from the biographical file for pilot Rowland, CR-703000-01, 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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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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The performance of team Cessna during the 1928 and other National Air Races is discussed in this REFERENCE by Rodengen, pp. 58-62.

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EARL ROWLAND

Here's a little-known "fact." Our pilot Earl Rowland is allegedly the originator of the term used to describe the small hamburgers served at White Castles around the U.S. The linked source presents a couple of origination theories, "One is that a barnstorming pilot named Earl Rowland undertook a cross-country flight in 1929, at which he boasted of eating 'sliders' at 98 White Castle locations." It seems the slider may not have been a slider before 1929.

That said, Earl Rowland landed three times at Tucson. The first two times were close together as he competed in the 1928 National Air Races (NAR). He landed on Sunday, September 9, 1928 and Tuesday, September 18, 1928. He flew the Cessna AW NC7107, a sleek, high-wing monoplane wearing race number 99. His first landing was westbound in the heat of competition. His second visit was eastbound after the NAR. Both times he carried passenger William Kowalski.

Rowland took first place in his category in the transcontinental event of 1928. Below is a full-page spread from the New York Times of September 16, 1928. Note the crowd assembled at Mines Field, the western terminus of the event and the site of the proceedings that year. The NAR in 1928 was named "On to Los Angeles."

Earl Rowland's Winning Cessna AW, NC7107, Mines Field, September 16, 1928 (Source: NASM)
Earl Rowland's Winning Cessna AW, NC7107, Mines Field, September 16, 1928 (Source: NASM)

Rowland's win of the transcontinental race was a big deal. He had beaten twenty-two other contenders to earn $7,000.00 plus a wrist watch and a genuine Mexican serape.The caption of this article says, "THE FIRST OF THE PROCESSION THROUGH THE AIR ACROSS THE CONTINENT: EARL ROWLAND of Wichita, Kan., Who Had Led the Class A Planes of the National Air Derby Most of the Way From Roosevelt Field, Comes Down to the Ground at Los Angeles." Below, courtesy of Andy Heins, Rowland poses with his airplane. He was about age 30 in this photograph. He wears his suit slacks under his coveralls.

Earl Rowland, Location Unknown, Ca. 1928 (Source: Heins)
Earl Rowland, Location Unknown, Ca. 1928 (Source: Heins)

Note the triangular door and the automatic door opener (gravity). A photograph in the Rodengen reference cited in the left sidebar captures this airplane head-on with him in the pilot seat accompanied by a passenger. The photo gives a sense of how small the cockpit was, given that the two sat shoulder to shoulder.

Newark Ledger, February 11, 1929 (Source: NASM)
Newark Ledger, February 11, 1929 (Source: NASM)

 

Through the winter immediately following his victory, we find Rowland portrayed in east coast newspapers as a promoter and spokesman for aviation. At left, from the Newark Ledger of February 11, 1929, Rowland throws his hat in the ring for a cross-continent record attempt. That record had recently been set by Register pilot Frank Hawks.

Newark Evening News, February 16, 1929 (Source: NASM)
Newark Evening News, February 16, 1929 (Source: NASM)

 

At right, the Newark Evening News of February 16th places Rowland at an unidentified trade show representing Cessna aircraft for Atlantic Air Service.

 

Newark Evening News, May 18, 1929 (Source: NASM)
Newark Evening News, May 18, 1929 (Source: NASM)

 

Joplin Globe, September 8, 1928 (Source: Web)
Joplin Globe, September 8, 1928 (Source: Web)

At left, an article that should make contemporary pilots salivate with envy. This cost analysis for long distance flight on two continents, by two different pilots, is quaint by modern standards of fuel and oil costs. The Newark Evening News of May 18, 1929 has Rowland flying his Cessna cross-country 1,325 miles in 12 hours and spending $21.63 for fuel. A similar flight today would cost well over $600, assuming a modest fuel burn of 10.5 gallons per hour and an average fuel cost of $5.00 per gallon. See Clare Bunch for a similar analysis.

Earl Rowland was born June 10, 1898, according to an online family history. The Social Security Index cites one Earl Rowland born on April 4, 1898 and passing away during September, 1980. Does anyone KNOW our pilot Rowland's birth/death dates?

From the history I reviewed at the Smithsonian (top of the left sidebar), Rowland learned to fly during WWI and flew through two wars and on into the 1950s. He barnstormed a short time and in 1923 took a position as test pilot for Cessna aircraft (but, see below). He flew and demonstrated new aircraft for customers. He worked for the Swallow aircraft company and for Stearman for a period.

A site visitor points out a fact that the history I reviewed might be in error. He states, "...he couldn't have worked for Cessna Aircraft in 1923, the Company wasn't formed until 1927. If he was a test pilot in '23 it would have had to been with Swallow." He goes on to say, "Rowland worked for Stearman and then flew a Cessna to victory in the 1928 National air races from NY to LA. After that win he switched jobs and worked for Cessna probably until they closed down the business by the summer of 1931. Cessna was closed until 1934. He lived in Wichita but I'm not sure where."

Rowland's history states that he won the Ford Reliability Tour for 1925. According to the Forden book in the REFERENCES, he actually placed 5th flying an OX-5 Swallow. He was Jake Moellendick’s (not a Register pilot) pilot in a Swallow in the first (1925) Air Tour. He started out in the 1929 Tour with a Cessna, But had to give up at Augusta, GA when he was disabled by gas and oil fumes which reached the Cessna’s cabin through a poorly built fire wall. There are films online of the Ford Tours. If you go to the link and search for "Earl Rowland," you'll find moving picture sequences with him.

According to the same reference, he also placed 13th in the 1929 Reliability Tour flying his Cessna NC7107 wearing race number 33. At least one source states that he suffered appendicitis during this Tour.

Unsourced & Undated News Article, Ca. 1931 (Source: NASM)
Unsourced & Undated News Article, Ca. 1931 (Source: NASM)

 

At right, from the Joplin (MO) Globe of September 8, 1928, a summary of the 1928 NAR at Ft. Worth, TX. Note mention of numerous other competitors, many of whom are Register signers: Robert Dake, in second place, Tex Rankin in third, S.L. Wittman, A.W. Killips, George Zinn and M.E. Grevemberg, among others. Further, in August-September, 1929, he placed first in the NAR class D race from Miami to Cleveland, OH. He was a significant force in long-distance air racing through the late 1920s.

Soon, the Great Depression began to take its toll on the Cessna Aircraft Company. A summary from the Wichita Beacon, August 3, 1930, states, "Clyde V. Cessna announced that the Cessna Aircraft Company plant is being closed down for a 30 day period except for completing Earl Rowland's racing plane for the national air races. A number of [the] company's assets will be sold including the old factory at 1st and Glenn. About 35 men will be laid off."

And from the same newspaper of August 29th, "The new mid-wing Cessna racing plane which Earl Rowland will fly in the national air races made successful test flights today indicating it will do more than 180 m.p.h. It is powered by a 110 horsepower Warner engine." The Aircraft Yearbook for 1931 gives no indication that Rowland or his Cessna competed in any of the 1930 race program.

At left, an unsourced news article that describes an accident endured by Rowland and his wife during the 1931 NAR.

Rowland was in the Army for the Second World War, assigned to a job he knew well: flight instruction. He moved on from the Training Command to the Ferry Command, and returned to civilian flying after the war. He retired in Wagoner, Oklahoma, date unknown.

A feature article in the Wichita Beacon of November 12, 1977 describes a, "... 79 year old Earl Rowland, a legendary test pilot since the halcyon Wichita aviation days of the 1920s...."

He is quoted in the Forden book, "My life has been most pleasant and interesting, and my ship came in a long time ago; the day I started learning to fly."

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Dossier 2.1.144

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 08/26/11 REVISED: 06/14/15

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

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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