Wittman landed twice at Tucson, both times in conjunction with
his competition during the 1928 National Air Races. His airplane
is a Pheasant H-10 biplane, NC5610.
It is interesting how Davis-Monthan pilots who flew nearly
80 years ago weave themselves into contemporary journalism.
This image is of Wittman’s NAA license that was current
when he flew through Tucson. The image appeared in EAA's
Sport Aviation magazine in January, 2003.
The activation date of his license was September 4, 1928.
This was just five days before he flew into Tucson on his
way to place 12th out of 38 starters in the New York to Los
Angeles trans-continental race that year.
Wittman’s 64-year career had him competing in many
races from the 1920s to 1980s. This link
gives a brief chronology of his races and aircraft. Another
image of Wittman on this site is here. Below, shared by site visitor Joe Kranz, is a U.S. postal cachet signed by Wittman July 1, 1933. The cachet commemorates the National Air Races that year.
Steve Wittman, U.S. Postal Cachet, July 1, 1933 (Source: Kranz)
Below, courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr Stream (SDAM), is a more recent photograph of Wittman guiding one of his racers he built in 1948 that he called "Little Bonzo."
S.J. Wittman & "Little Bonzo" Date & Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)
Wittman and his wife died in April 1995 in a crash of another one
of the airplanes he designed and built (not "Bonzo"). See this link for information on the crash and its aftermath, as well as
excellent leads to other information.
It is ironic that an experienced designer and builder of
many high-performance race planes would perish in the breakup
of one of the aircraft he designed and built. The post-crash
analysis of the broken craft alleged that two incompatible
fabric/adhesive systems had been used to cover the airplane.
Further alleged, an adhesive joint failed, causing the airplane
to break up in the air. It is generally conceded, by people familiar
with these kinds of fabric/adhesive applications, that any designer
of Wittman's caliber should have known better.
UPLOADED: 01/07/06 REVISED: 02/19/07, 10/30/07, 11/28/08, 01/12/15