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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.


The text, pilot identification card and log image taken from information presented to the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame during the April 17, 1999 induction of C.E. Shankle and Joan Fay Shankle. Courtesy of Col (Ret) Charles T. Niblett of Tucson, AZ.


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Joan Fay Shankle (Source: Shankle)
Joan Fay Shankle

Joan Fay Shankle (July 2, 1908-1964), was a race pilot and record setter. She married Clarence E. “Dutch” Shankle February 29, 1928. They had two sons, Joseph Fay Shankle (dob 9/17/1928) and John Dyer Shankle (dob 1/11/1934) .

Her husband taught her to fly, under a student pilot's permit (#9639) issued in Boston, MA on December 19, 1928. Her student permit identified her as 20 years old;126 pounds; 5 feet 6 inches tall; hair and eyes brown.

She soloed on May 13, 1929, and telegraphed her family in Switzerland that she had done so. Issued on July 5, 1929, she was the first woman to receive a private pilot’s license in Massachusetts (Private license no. 7838). The image below is of her pilot's ID as of September 1929

Joan's Newly Minted Pilot ID Card, September 1929

She soon became a leader among women pilots and, in the fall of 1929, helped found the 99s as a charter member. She became chair of the New England chapter and spoke to many women’s clubs about aviation.

In October 1929, when her husband, who was in the military, needed to ferry new Douglas O-2 aircraft from California back to Boston, she flew him to March Field in their own private Stearman (NC5491). She then flew the Stearman back east, becoming the first woman to fly solo from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic coast.

This is the flight she cited on October 23 in the Register where she is flying the Stearman. Note on the signature line above hers in the Register that she is accompanied by her husband flying his Douglas O-2K.

On July 6 and 11, 1930, she landed at the Airfield carrying a Lt. Waite in her Lockheed Sirius, NC13W. Below is an image of her pilot log book for those flights. I have highlighted their itineraries. Note the discrepancy in the spelling of Waite's name between her log and the Register image.

Joan's Pilot Log, July 1930

She was also the first woman to fly solo from Boston to Miami. In Boston, as her flying experience increased, she became eligible to take the examination for a limited commercial license; she was the first woman in Massachusetts to obtain this license. She also earned a Transport Pilot license.

During 1930, her husband was promoted and assigned to Fort Sill, OK. About a year later, he resigned from the military and they moved to their PM Ranch just north of Tubac and 40 miles south of Tucson. They built an airstrip to keep their Stearman J-5 and Lockheed Sirius (NC13W cited three times in the Register piloted by Joan). They made frequent flights around Arizona and from coast to coast, including good will visits to Mexico. Young son, Joseph, generally accompanied them on their flights and had his own log book, faithfully kept for each flight, and his own flying equipment.

Joan Flying NC13W (Source: Shankle)
Joan in NC13W

Joan Shankle was the only Arizona woman entered in the 1931 National Air Races, which had a field of 16 women and 44 men. In the 2,400 mile Women’s Speed Classic, she placed ninth despite a broken stabilizer that developed a short distance from Amarillo, TX. She repaired the break with a piece of barbed wire and finished the race. The Blue Book of Aviation cites her as having accumulated 625 flight hours as of 1932. All totaled, she made three round trips across the country through 1932. Below, the FAI license in effect during her competition in the 1931 National Air Races.

Joan's FAI License, 1931 (Source: Shankle)
FAI License, 1931

Later, at the first annual Tucson Air Show held in 1933. Joan finished third in the free for all Air Race.

On August 24, 1937, Joan graduated from Dallas Aviation School and Air College in Link Trainer Instruments and radio blind flight. In May 1938, she was the only woman pilot carrying mail in Texas in observance of National Air Mail Week.

From 1929 to 1938 she flew a total of 1,311:35 hours. She had accumulated 2,300 flying hours as of June 20, 1941. She divorced her husband just before WWII, married another flier and had two more sons. She died in Honolulu in 1964.

Joan Fay Shankle and Dutch Shankle were inducted to the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame on April 17, 1999. Joan appears again in the Register as a passenger with Louise Thaden in 1934.


Dossier 2.4.1

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 01/06/06 REVISED: 01/17/06, 01/21/06, 11/21/06, 04/23/07, 10/29/07

The Register

I'm looking for other photos of Stearman NC5491.

Images on this page (except pilot's identification card and log image) courtesy of Joan Shankle's son, John.
























Son John offers the following remembrance of an event at the Tubac ranch:

"The air field was shown on all the charts and maps in the 1930s and '40s. The air field was used occasionally for training and emergency purposes in the late thirties and early forties by Army Air Corps pilots flying out of Davis-Monthan. I remember one day a P-40 made an emergency landing (I don't remember why). We all ran out to the field when we heard him coming in. He landed the plane OK and was slowly taxiing over to where we were. Unfortunately we were standing in a low part of the field that had been flooded and really muddy. We waved frantically to get him to stop, but he just waved back happily and kept on coming. Then he did the most graceful (and embarrassing) nose over when he hit the mud and buried the nose of the plane. It took about three days for them to fix the plane and fly it back to Tucson."

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