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There is no biographical file for pilot Wallace in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC.

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Thanks to Guest Editor Bob Woodling for help researching this page.

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CLYDE WYATT WALLACE

 

Mark Wallace, Date Unknown (Source: ancestry.com)
Mark Wallace, Date Unknown (Source: ancestry.com)

 

According to the 1910 U.S. Census, his first, Clyde Wallace was one year old and living with his father, Mark O. (1884-1970; age 26) and mother Ida G. (b. 1883; recorded as age 21) in Chatsworth Park, Los Angeles, CA. His age would place his birth year as 1909. His father was cited as a "Farmer" on a "General Farm." If you do the math on his mother's age, it does not agree with the year she allegedly was born. If she was born in 1883, Ida should be 27 in 1910. Regardless, she and Mark were married for three years. Wallace's father is pictured, right, in an undated portrait. I have no photographs of Clyde. If you do and would like to share them for this Web page, please let me KNOW.

T.W.A. Skyliner, March, 1937 (Source: Woodling)

 

The family moved north and the 1920 Census identified their address as 923 East 2nd Street, Benson Precinct, Douglas County, Oregon. They also added two sons to the family, Roy O. (8) and Alvin L. (6). His father was now employed as an "Signal Supervisor" in an "Office."

 

By 1930 the family had moved to Tucson, AZ. I don't know when they moved there. Mark was identified in the 1930 Tucson city directory as "Asst. Signal Supervisor" at "SP Co." This was probably the Southern Pacific Company, which was a major railroad system that ran from Oregon, south through California, then east through Tucson to New Orleans and beyond. Clyde would have been 21 in 1930. According to one of the articles posted below, he learned to fly at our Davis-Monthan Airfield.

 

Clyde Wallace signed the Tucson Register once on Monday, February 19, 1934 at 1:30PM. He carried as his sole passenger A.J. Townsen. They flew the Stinson S Junior that Wallace identified as NC8463 (S/N 8013). They identified Tucson as their homebase, arriving here from Phoenix, AZ. They specified no destination or departure time. Indeed, the city directories for Tucson for 1930 and 1936 list his and his parents' residence as 127 South 1st Avenue, Tucson. On Google Earth today the address is a commercial area with no sign of homes or apartments. In 1936, the directory identified Wallace as an "aviator." His address, still on South 1st Avenue, was about four miles northwest of the Airfield, an easy bike ride for a young man.

 

In 1936, Wallace was hired by T.W.A. He flew freight and passengers between New York and Chicago and New York and Pittsburgh, PA.

 

One memorable flight occurred in the winter of 1937 when he flew from New York to Kansas City, MO with a cargo of pneumonia serum for an ill Hollywood film producer. Details of the trip were captured in the T.W.A. internal magazine, Skyliner of March, 1937, left. Although Wallace was not mentioned by name in the Skyliner (he was only with T.W.A. for a year, so he was probably co-pilot for Captain W.W. Jones), he flew the leg from New York to Kansas City where the serum was turned over to another crew to complete the journey to the west coast. The film producer, Myron Selznick, brother of the more well-known David, survived.

 

Sadly, just four years after we meet him landing at Tucson, Wallace was the co-pilot of a T.W.A. DC-2 that crashed on March 1, 1938 east of Fresno, CA. He, as well as eight other passengers and crew were killed in the crash. The crash was reported in The New York Times of March 3, 1938 and in the Ogden Standard Examiner (UT), March 2, 1938, below. The weather and terrain were not conducive to safe flying, or for finding a suitable landing site.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AIRLINER DISAPPEARS -- NINE ABOARD.
TRANSPORT MISSING SINCE LAST NIGHT IN HIGH SIERRAS.
FALSE REPORT OF SAFE LANDING BRANDED BY AIRLINE OFFICIALS AS 'CRUELEST HOAX EVER PERPETRATED'; HUNT DIFFICULT.

San Francisco, March 2. -- (UP) -- Transcontinental & Western Air headquarters announced it had received a message purportedly from United Airlines at Fresno saying the missing TWA plane had been found, but that investigation disclosed the message was "one of the cruelest hoaxes ever perpetrated." The plane was still missing, TWA said.

United Airlines offices in San Francisco and Fresno denied any of their men had sent the message. TWA officials said the message was telephoned from Fresno by someone who said he was a United Airline employee. The flash message said the plane was found 20 miles from Fresno with "several passengers injured but everybody alive."

Fresno, Cal., March 2. -- (UP) -- A pelting rainstorm today handicapped search for a Transcontinental & Western Air transport plane with nine aboard which disappeared Tuesday night in the snow-covered mountains east of Fresno.

Fears increased hourly that the ship had crashed. TWA officials, however, said they had not given up hope.

The plane, with six passengers and three crew, left San Francisco airport at six-thirty (seven-thirty
Ogden time) last night for Winslow, Ariz., but later was ordered to Los Angeles because of stormy weather.
The storm became so intense over the Tehachapi mountains, separating central and southern California, that Captain JOHN D. GRAVES, chief pilot, was forced back. He radioed at eight thirty-three he was heading for Fresno. He never got there.

Last definite news of the craft came from Mrs. C. G. Landry at the Edison company power house at Huntington lake, 45 miles northeast of Fresno. She reported she saw the plane at nine-twenty p.m. flying at 500 feet down the San Joaquin river. Search was concentrated in the Sierra Nevada’s east of Fresno. The rainstorm prevented search from the air and forced searchers to use automobiles.

One party, headed by Herbert Stancil, Fresno manager of TWA , was fighting its way to the Huntington lake area.
The general search was directed by TWA and government officials who came to Fresno by automobiles from San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Those aboard the plane were:
Passengers:
MR. and MRS. L. D. WALTS, San Francisco.
V. KRAUSE, San Francisco.
JAY TRACY DIRLAM and MARY LOUISE DIRLAM, Stanford university students.
M. H. SALISBURY, a company pilot.

Crew:
Captain JOHN D. GRAVES, chief pilot, Palo Alto, Cal.
C. W. WALLACE, co-pilot, Tucson, Arizona.
MISS MARTHA MAE WILSON, hostess, formerly of Philadelphia.

The plane was on the San Francisco-Winslow shuttle run of TWA which connects at Winslow with the company's trans-continental route between Los Angeles and New York.

GRAVES is a former army pilot. He won fame in 1932 as the pilot who located and dropped food to a party of snowbound Indians in northern Arizona who were on the verge of starvation.

Harold Bromley, noted flier, now Fresco inspector for the bureau of aeronautics, said visibility in the Fresno area was practically zero because of the downpour. The rain started Tuesday night and continued incessantly today.

The plane, a twin-motored Douglas, had gasoline to last only until midnight. When the ship left San Francisco airport the clouds were at 6,000 to 7,000 altitude. This was considered ample ceiling for safe flying.

The local Arizona Republic March 3, 1938, reported his absence and the effect on his family, below, left. The article also outlines biographical information. The Arizona Republic, Tuesday, March 8, 1938, below right, reported two of Wallace's friends from Tucson flying to Fresno to aid in the search.

Arizona Fliers Seek Lost Plane

BISBEE. Mar. 7 (AP) Jack Black of Bisbee, former aviation student, and Charlie Mayse, Douglas pilot, took off from the International Airport at Douglas Sunday night in Mayse's plane for Fresno, Calif., where they will join in the air search for the lost TWA. Inc., liner missing since March 1. Mayse and Black, close friends of Clyde Wallace of Tucson, co-pilot of the missing transport, were requested by the Wallace family in Tucson to assist in the search. Wallace formerly operated an aerial sightseeing service and flying school in Tucson at which Black was a student.

Awaits News Of Son

TUCSON. Mar. 2 (AP) Mr. and Mrs. M. O. Wallace of Tucson waited anxiously tonight for news of their son, Clyde Wallace, co-pilot of a large air liner missing in Central California. He was graduated from Tucson High School in May, 1927. Hundreds of Tucson resident remembered taking flights with the youth while he operated an aerial sight-seeing service and flying school here, after learning to fly at the old Tucson airport in 1927.

He went to work for TWA, Inc. in 1936, on a night freight run between Chicago and New York. After a few months he was transferred to the New York-Chicago passenger planes as first officer. Later he flew between New York and Pittsburgh.

Last winter he made a thrilling flight from New York with serum needed to save the life of a Hollywood movie producer who was seriously ill. All passenger planes were grounded by bad weather as Wallace and a companion flew all night through snowstorms, with ice forming on the wings of their plane. They got through to Kansas City, and a relief crew completed the trip. The producer's life was saved by the serum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not only Black and Mayse joined the search. Jack Frye and Paul Richter, ranking officers in T.W.A. Incorporated, also flew to Fresno to aid in the search.

Below are three views of the crash site. The official location of the crash was established as 8.1 miles ENE of Wawona, CA. The flight was southeast bound from San Francisco, CA to Winslow, AZ. The narrative from the review board was as follows. "Crashed into mountain in poor weather. The wreckage found on Buena Vista Crest, Yosemite Nat'l Park, June 12, 1938. The three crew and six passengers died.

"It is the opinion of the Investigating Board that the probable cause of this accident was a change in wind direction and a sharp increase in velocity, unknown to the pilot, together with the pilot's confusion as to his position with reference to the Fresno Radio Range station, which combined to bring about flight over mountainous terrain, ending in a crash at near his reported cruising altitude."

The registration number is visible on the vertical stabilizer in this view. NC13789 was a Douglas DC-2-112, S/N 1299. It was manufactured during April, 1935.

T.W.A. DC-2 Crash Site Ca. June, 1938 (Source: Woodling)
T.W.A. DC-2 Crash Site Ca. June, 1938 (Source: Woodling)

"T W" can be seen on the fuselage of this view. The men are unidentified, but could be members of the special board appointed to investigate the crash by Secretary of Commerce Daniel C. Roper (see article below).

T.W.A. DC-2 Crash Site Ca. June, 1938 (Source: Woodling)

The final image, below, shows the real devastation of the forward part of the airplane. There are numerous references to this crash on the Web. Just google "NC13789."

T.W.A. DC-2 Crash Site Ca. June, 1938 (Source: Woodling)

Three months later, the Fresno Bee Republican (CA), June 14, 1938, reported on the status of the crash and the federal probe, below. It was three months before the crash site was discovered and the victims recovered.


U. S. NAMES AIR CRASH PROBE BOARD.
BODIES OF NINE DEAD ARE BROUGHT TO FRESNO FROM YOSEMITE PEAK.
INQUEST IS HELD: COMMERCE DEPARTMENT INVESTIGATION WILL START JUNE 21st.

Fresno today gave refuge to the bodies of the three women and six men lost nearly four months ago in swirling mountain snows aboard a luxury airliner which had sought in vain to make a safe landing here.

Their broken bodies, wrapped in canvas, were brought here after a cortege had wound its way sixteen miles by weird early morning light down the silent slopes of Buena Vista Crest in the Yosemite National Park. Henry O. Collier, youthful Fresno packing house worker, had stumbled upon the wrecked plane and its victims. The ship had crashed the night of March 1st.

While the flickering flashlights of the crew were picking out the rocks and snow drifts on the mountain death trap, Secretary of Commerce Daniel C. Roper at Washington, D.C., named a special board to investigate the crash and ordered its members to proceed at once to the scene.

With Collier as the only witness a coroner's jury sitting beside the strewn wreckage of the Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc., plane yesterday returned a verdict of accidental death. Roper's special board is scheduled to hold public hearings on or about June 21st, contingent upon completion of the investigation at the wreck. The place of the hearings will be announced later.

The scene of the crash was erroneously identified by Collier as on Buena Vista Peak, a 9,770-foot spire. Rangers led to the scene by Collier later identified the spot as on Buena Vista Crest, a 9,425-foot formation a mile from the peak.

Only three bodies were identified at the scene. They are H. M. SALISBURY, a TWA pilot flying as a passenger; Pilot JOHN GRAVES and Stewardess MARTHA M. WILSON. Clothing and other effects are clues to the identity of the others.

A red smock worn by the stewardess was sighted within the shattered cabin of the $85,000 luxury airliner to attract attention to the ninth body. The others were thrown clear of the plane as it flew to bits in cutting a swath 200 yards long through trees, snow and boulders before boring into the mountainside. The passengers had died instantly.

Had the plane gained but 200 feet more altitude it would have cleared the crest and GRAVES would have had unobstructed escape into the San Joaquin Valley in a northwesterly direction.

 

Ottawa Citizen (Canada), July 11,1938 (Source: Web)

 

On July 11, 1938 the Bureau of Air Commerce made its final statement about the cause of the crash. It was reported in the Ottawa Citizen of that date, right.

Wallace has minimal Web presence. In a casual conversation about ten years ago, I heard that Wallace was a Hollywood stunt pilot who flew for Cecil B. DeMille. I could find no support for that. The Wallace family continued to live in Tucson after Clyde's passing. The U.S. Census for 1940 cites Mark, Ida and youngest son Alvin still living together.

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THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 05/18/16 REVISED:

 
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I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Wallace and his airplane 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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