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Some of this information comes from the biographical file for pilot Tibbs, CT-307000-01, 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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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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CHARLES BURRELL TIBBS

Charles Burrell Tibbs, Date & Location Unknown (Source: NASM)
Charles Burrell Tibbs, Date & Location Unknown (Source: NASM)

Burrell Tibbs (he never used "Charles") landed once at Tucson, Saturday, August 18,1934 at 1:10PM. He carried two passengers identified as Marty Heflin and T.J. Ruddy. Based at Oklahoma City, OK, they were westbound to Los Angeles, CA. Tibbs wrote in the remarks column of the Register, "Why don't you have beer for the Sec'y Treas???"

I could find no information about either Tibbs or his passengers being the secretary-treasurer of any organization. There was a news article from 1925 that cited a Dr. T.J. Ruddy as the chair of the program committee for the American Osteopathic Society of Ophthalmology and Otolaryngology being held in Toronto, Canada that year. Ruddy was based in Los Angeles.

The three were flying in the Travel Air NC376M a model 6000-A, serial number A6A-2002. I know nothing about his airplane. If you have information or photographs to share, please let me KNOW. N376M is currently assigned to a Bell 206B helicopter.

Tibbs was featured in "Roots 'n' Branches" the monthly newsletter of the Grand Prairie (TX) Genealogical Society (Vol. 42, #6, page 49, June, 2010), available at the link. The feature is abridged below, including his birth date and date of passing.

"Charles Burrell Tibbs [was] born March 11, 1896, in Royce City, Texas. [He] was better known as Burrell Tibbs. He began working as a 'greaseball' mechanic in 1909 at St. Louis, Missouri, for the French aviator, Tom Benoist, builder of seaplanes. Burrell became a pilot in 1914 and soon became part of a barnstorming flying circus that thrilled audiences across Oklahoma and Texas.

"They didn't need an airfield—they landed in farmer's fields and the crowd came to them. In later years, he liked to say that he flew out of Love Field when it was just a cow pasture. He was also a Fixed Base Operator, with Les Miller as an associate, in Dallas, Texas. From 1917 to 1919, Tibbs flew with the Army Air Corps in World War I and trained wartime fliers. In 1919 he went back to barnstorming as a member of "Texas Top-Notch Fliers." Part of the act was recruiting a man from the audience to parachute out of Burrell's plane. Wiley Post volunteered. It was Wiley's first parachute jump and Burrell soon taught Wiley how to fly. When World War II came, Burrell taught airplane mechanics at the National Defense School in Dallas and was a pilot instructor for the U.S. Army.

"After the war, Burrell operated a flying service in Grand Prairie, Texas. At age 57, he flew a World War I Jenny from Bloomington, Illinois to Grand Prairie, a seven day trip covering 750 miles to celebrate the 50th anniversary of powered flight. In its 21 December 1953 issue, The Cleveland [Ohio] Plain Dealer quoted Burrell as using a dollar watch, a yardstick and a Rand McNally map [as] his navigation instruments for this trip.

"Barnstorming throughout Oklahoma and Texas was only the beginning. In his lifetime as an industrious and enterprising business man, Tibbs operated flying schools, commercial air services, did crop dusting, managed several airports in Oklahoma and Texas, and taught cadet aviation classes at the University of Oklahoma, Norman.

"Burrell Tibbs was a member of Early Birds, OX5 Club of Aviation Pioneers, [Quiet Birdmen] Club of Oklahoma and Texas, Air Indians, Antique Aircraft Association, Tau Omega (honorary), Kill Devil Hill Memorial Society, Institute of Aeronautical Science, and the Experimental Aircraft Association. Charles Burrell Tibbs died May 5, 1965 [other sources say May 3rd] in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. His body was cremated and the ashes dropped from an airplane above his birthplace, Royce City, Texas."

Tibbs' flying career spanned barnstorming, commercial passenger transport, flight instruction during two world wars, and rum running in between them. The latter activity was promulgated under the guise of a charter operation between the oil fields of southern Oklahoma and the Texas Gulf Coast. Tibbs had an open cockpit airplane that he'd fly to the coast, fill the fuselage with burlap-wrapped bottles and fly back to Oklahoma. The burlap was dipped in salt water to give the product an "off the boat" cachet. He timed his return for sundown when oil workers would block a road for his landing and help him with "cargo management."

His flight instruction during WWII was captured in a brief color film that is mounted on YouTube (see the link). Tibbs was a big man and easy to pick out. Below, a still from the film, courtesy of its owner, R.L. Regan. Tibbs shared instructor duties at the Spartan School in Tulsa, OK with fellow Register pilots Jay Sodowsky and Ed Schultz. Please direct your browser to Sodowsky's page to see additional stills from the film, and a couple of photographs including Tibbs.

Burrell Tibbs, Left, Ca. Early 1940s (Source: Regan)
Burrell Tibbs, Left, Ca. Early 1940s (Source: Regan)

 

E.B. First Solo Plaque, January 9, 1914 (Source: NASM)
First Solo Plaque, January 9, 1914 (Source: NASM)

 

As an Early Bird (E.B.) of aviation, biographical information and other photographs are at the link. A letter to the Early Bird organization from Tibbs in his NASM biographical file (cited, left sidebar) requests a plaque to commemorate his first solo flight. A rubbing of the plaque is at left. Note the rearrangement of his first and middle names.

Tibbs has only a modest Web presence.

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Dossier 2.1.155

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