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This information comes from the biographical file for pilot Vance, CV-132000-01, -99, 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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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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CLAIRE K. VANCE

Claire Kinsey Vance signed the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register twice. Both times he was flying Boeing Model 40-C NC178E. His first landing was with three unidentified passengers on Friday, March 29, 1929 at 2:00 PM. Based at Oakland, CA they were eastbound from Los Angeles, CA to El Paso, TX.

His second landing was about three weeks later on Wednesday, April 17, 1929. He carried three passengers again identified simply as Parmalee, Humphries and Frank. They were westbound from El Paso to Los Angeles. We could be seeing a three-week business or pleasure trip to the east by Vance, his airplane and his three passengers. The airplane was owned at the time by Pacific Air Transport Co. of San Francisco, CA.

Below, the classic Golden Age pose of pilot, his airplane and period automobile. The handwritten caption on the back of the image states, "Clark [sic] K. Vance, the (unreadable) car and the plane which he will use in an attempt to lower the Transcontinental non-stop flight record."

C.K. Vance, Date & Location Unknown (Source: NASM)
C.K. Vance, Date & Location Unknown

Site visitor Russ Plehinger states the airplane is a homemade Vance biplane with a 270HP Salmson engine. The 2,600 miles/nonstop flight was scheduled for June, 1923 from Crissey Field, San Francisco, CA to New York, NY. He did not fly the record attempt. Crissy Field was a regular stop for Vance during his duties as an airmail pilot (see below). Can anyone IDENTIFY the automobile?

Vance was an airmail pilot beginning in 1918 through the early 1920s. He flew several routes, among them the San Francisco, CA to Reno, NV and the St. Louis, MO to Chicago route. Several news articles from the Maywood [IL] Herald from April and May 1921 describe weather-related expoits of Vance and others of his colleagues. This link has a fairly brief history of U.S. airmail service.

The Oelwein Daily Register, Oelwein, IA, December 19, 1932
The Oelwein Daily Register, Oelwein, IA, December 19, 1932

Vance had a technical aptitude as well, founding the Vance Aircraft Company and designing and building a flying wing, which was run unsuccessfully in the 1932 Bendix Race (a photograph of the craft is on this page -- scroll down about half way). His flying wing was entered in the 1933 and 1934 Bendix Races, but never competed.

Born June 30, 1897, Vance died December 18, 1932 in an airplane crash near Oakland, CA. His death is reported in a Reno, NV newspaper, with a photograph, as well as information about his flying life, here (PDF download 919KB). Surprisingly, the article lists very few details surrounding the crash. Additional information is in the brief article at left.

 

The "two deaths" headline refers to another, unrelated flying accident that appeared just below this article. The second accident was an airplane piloted by Register pilot Parker Abbott, who spun his airplane to the ground while attempting to extricate and encourage a fear-paralyzed crew member to bail out. To no avail. Abbott finally abandoned ship and the crew member died in the crash.

Below, the Bureau of Aeronautics Newsletter of January 15, 1933 describes the search and rescue operation mounted by the Navy to find Vance and his airplane.

Bureau of Aeronautics Newsletter, January 15, 1933 (Source: Webmaster)
Bureau of Aeronautics Newsletter, January 15, 1933 (Source: Webmaster)

Another unsourced and undated news article, below, shared by Marcus Moreau (see his grandfather, West Moreau's biography at the link) shows the U.S. Army's tribute at the funeral for Vance. This article was in West Moreau's collection.

Undated and Unsourced News Article, Ca. December, 1932 (Source: Moreau)
Undated and Unsourced News Article, Ca. December, 1932 (Source: Moreau)

A photograph of Vance's grave is here. Another (posthumous) photograph of his flying wing, NC12700, is below from the January, 1934 issue of Popular Aviaition (PA) magazine.

Vance Flying Wing, Popular Aviation, January, 1934 (Source: PA)

The Board of Port Commissioners, Oakland, CA, December 19, 1932 minutes contain the following:
"The Acting Port Manager reported on the death of Claire Vance, Air Mail Pilot of United Air Lines, as a result of the crash of his mail plane near Mount Diablo on the night of December 17. Mr. Vance having been associated with
the flying of the mail from the Oakland Municipal Airport since its inception, the Board authorized the Port Manager to arrange for flowers to be sent and an appropriate letter of condolence to Mrs. Claire Vance."

Below are two photographs of Vance with his airplane, courtesy of the Port of Oakland Archives (CA). The first shows Vance (L) with Allan Bonnalie dated October 17, 1932.   The object in the photo is likely a barograph.

Claire Vance (L) With Allan Bonnalie, October 17, 1932 (Source: Port of Oakland Archives)
Claire Vance (L) With Allan Bonnalie, October 17, 1932 (Source: Port of Oakland Archives)

The second photograph shows Vance's NC12700 from the aft starboard quarter, dated October 17, 1932. An Oakland Airport emergency car stands by the starboard wing while the port wing is being fueled.

Vance Aircraft's NC12700, October 17, 1932 (Source: Port of Oakland Archives)
Vance Aircraft's NC12700, October 17, 1932 (Source: Port of Oakland Archives)

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Dossier 2.1.157

UPLOADED: 11/30/08 REVISED: 04/23/09, 11/27/11, 06/23/14, 11/12/16

 
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I'm looking for photographs of pilot Vance and his Boeing airplane to include on this page. If you have one or more you'd like to share, please use this FORM to contact me.
News article obituary from the Reno and Oelwein newspapers courtesy of Mike Gerow.
 
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