The Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register

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The Davis-Monthan Airfield Register

The Congress of Ghosts

Military Aircraft of the Davis Monthan Register, 1925-1936

Art Goebel's Own Story

Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race

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PRESS COVERAGE AND OTHER ITEMS RELATED TO WWW.DMAIRFIELD

Occasional press coverage of this site and other project activities is listed here.

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Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register
Ed SchleePancho BarnesBill Piper Jr. rightFrank HawksBobbi Trout
CulturalMotion PicturesFriendsNon Profit statusProducts and services
ReferencesPublicationsCollectionsGuest EditorsPress Coverage

THE DAVIS-MONTHAN AIRFIELD REGISTER

is what this Web site is all about...

Holding the Original Register

Despite its battered surface appearance, when you open the Register it is a STUNNING handwritten artifact of early 20th century American techno-cultural behavior (roll your cursor over the register thumbnail, above, left). The exact Register I am holding, right, was installed on the "new" Airfield near October 29, 1925. Please refer to the separate page for the Davis-Monthan Airfield to learn about the "old" and "new" fields.

The Register was signed by many hundreds of transient pilots and passengers, including those pictured in the thumbnails above, who visited the Davis-Monthan Municipal Airfield in Tucson, Arizona during the 3,581 days the Register lay open.They landed and wrote their names in the Register between February 6, 1925 and November 26, 1936.

WHERE TO BEGIN?

You can enter the database in many different ways. By year is one way, which you can do with the dropdown menu below. You'll soon want to refine your searches by focusing particularly on one aspect of the database. For example, you may also search the Register by PEOPLE, AIRPLANES, PLACES and EVENTS. Click the buttons above right to explore those options.

To view records by year, click the drop down arrow and select the year. Click Go.
View the register by page number.

You can get back to this page to work with the Register by clicking THE REGISTER button, above right. You can also explore the Register's PEOPLE, PLACES, AIRPLANES and EVENTS in more detail by clicking those buttons, submenus and links therefrom. You can get a quick update of additions and changes to the site by clicking the What's New on the Site? button present at the bottom of any page.

Courtesy of site visitor B. Kalt, we can pinpoint October 29, 1925 as the exact date the Register was placed at the Airfield from the article, below, from the Tucson Citizen.

Tucson Citizen, October 29, 1925 (Source: Kalt)

The third paragraph of the article specifically addresses the Register placement. I have magnified that paragraph below, right.

 

Tucson Citizen, October 29, 1925 (Source: Kalt)
Tucson Citizen, October 29, 1925 (Source: Kalt)

With the placement of the Register on the desk so long ago, a continuous stream of people and airplanes appeared in it. If you spend any time at all with this Web site, you will find that from the Register stems all manner and direction of United States aeronautical development. The people, aircraft, places and events recorded there, and now available for you to see and learn from, helped spawn the intellectual and physical infrastructures of global aviation technologies, in peace and in war, during the 20th century. It is not an overstatement to say they formed the ideas, performed the actions, and served as loci from which, in many significant ways, we enter our second century of powered flight.

WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE?

What I intend to do is share with you the stories behind handwritten entries made in a fragile paper Register 88 years ago (click for a sample of a Register page). I encourage you to explore the stories via dropdown menus on the home pages for THE REGISTER, PEOPLE, PLACES, AIRPLANES and EVENTS.

I supplement your menu queries with information from a searchable database that mirrors the Register page images. Then I guide you toward other interesting and relevant information via links, either internal to this site, or to external Web sites or other resources.

If you would like your own copy of the Register I'm holding above, in a wire-bound book (8.5" x 11"; 340 pages) with three chapters of useful tabulated cross-references from the database, click here. Other books by your Webmaster are linked in the left and right sidebars.

If you're like me, as you search through the Register and play with the menus available on this Web site you'll hear round engines in the distance and smell dust, oil and old leather. You'll feel desert heat and low-altitude turbulence, and overhear quiet, considered, confident conversations between and among the aviation pioneers who signed this register so long ago where it sat in the office on the northwest corner of the Old Airfield.

As you read this today, this site is still under development. It'll probably never be finished. That's why, as frustrating as it may sound, you may get different, and new, answers if you come here next week. Notice the "What's New on the Site?" button at the bottom of the page. Please bookmark that page, and come back to see what's new from time to time. The site changes almost daily.

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SOME OTHER DETAILS ABOUT THE REGISTER AND THE DATABASE

How did I come to the Register? I bought a copy of the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register in a used book store in Alexandria, VA, June 13, 2000. If you spend any time on my suite of Web sites, you'll understand that my life has not been the same since I first opened my purchase. You'll understand why the following quote by Johnson clearly understates my efforts.

“I saw that one enquiry only gave occasion to another, that book referred to book, that to search was not always to find, and to find was not always to be informed.”
 
Samuel Johnson, 1805

Quantitatively, the register contains 3,704 records, which I transcribed into a Microsoft Access database. My database is mounted on the server, and it is the driver behind the drop down menus on the main pages that enable you to view records. The database is essentially what makes this Web site work. Another way of saying that is this site is database-driven: each of your clicks on a drop down menu is fulfilled uniquely from the information in the database. Your pathway of exploration through my sites will be uniquely different from the next visitor's pathway.

I have performed some routine, "big picture", descriptive analyses of traffic numbers by year, origins and destinations, categories of pilots and aircraft, and times of arrival and departure via simple sorts and queries. These results are cited where appropriate throughout the Web site. One example is my business analysis of Standard Air Lines (PDF 1.0Mb).

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THINGS YOU CAN DO TO CONTRIBUTE TO AVIATION HISTORY

If you are an academic type, and find, as I found, interesting and original topics to excavate, polish and render for publication, I encourage you to publish results from using my database. Please CONTACT ME for citation and/or collaboration courtesies, and please send a file (PDF) of your finished product to upload to this site (or send a link).

Need some ideas? I have performed no historical analysis of military pilots from the register. There are many junior flight officers (Eaker, Tunner, Spatz, etc.) who flogged the atmosphere in the southwest between the wars, and who later became famous. But, what were they doing when they landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield? Can their activities that brought them to Tucson be cross-referenced with data from various Army Air Corps archives?

And the passenger list is mostly virgin territory for analysis. Who were the (at least) 2,061 unique passengers who landed 4,048 times, mostly in open cockpits, and trusted their pilots, mostly unseen, behind them or closed behind cockpit doors?

More ideas? There are 99 Golden Age aircraft marques represented in the Register; over 2,000 individual aircraft with registration numbers just begging to be traced and investigated. Do any of the aircraft still exist? If so, where? Does someone out there have the skills to cross-check my database with the current online FAA aircraft registry?

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TECHNICAL DETAILS REGARDING THE REGISTER PAGE IMAGES

One of the key features of this Web site (and the other five Web sites linked off the home page and through the table below) is you may view high-quality, color images of each of the 218 pages of the Register.

The good news about this is, each page is rendered in its original color. Signatures in blue, red and black inks, pencil, and the smudges, blots, tears and patina of age are there for you to enjoy.

The not so good news is, for older computers, image download times may be long (in the minute + range). I have done everything I can do to speed things up, given today's Web design and communications technologies.

One thing I've done, in order to reduce transmission times, is used PhotoShop to "slice" the whole page images into five slices per page (a slice takes less time to download). Slices are called out and displayed, for example, when you choose to look at a specific person, place or airplane from a dropdown menu. Databased information is juxtaposed, and links are established based on that slice of information. You always have the choice to download the entire page, however.

I calculate that a page slice should take you about 3 seconds to download using a broadband connection and a computer with a relatively current processor. Figure on maybe 5 times that duration to download a whole page. Your results may vary, but I'll bet most of you will be pleasantly surprised with download speed and image quality.

As luck would have it, a few of the slices partially cut through some of the names and other information. The solution is to download the whole page, then you'll be able to see everything.

The site and graphics were designed for a 1024x768 screen aspect ratio. Older computers may use the scroll bar at the bottom of the screen to move the display left and right.

Let's all be grateful to the Office of Natural/Cultural History at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base for providing the color images for our enjoyment. This site wouldn't be as meaningful without them.

Finally, the contractor commissioned by the Air Force to photograph the Register crafted a Web site that provides hints of what the book reveals. That site is available here (no longer available as of 12/30/08; if it appears again, please let me KNOW).

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AND IF YOU THINK YOU HAVEN'T HAD ENOUGH....

This Web site is, in turn, part of a suite of six virtual windows that illuminate old Airfield Registers from around the United States during the Golden Age of flight. The following sites are open to the public. They exhibit and analyze for you 21,716 total airfield traffic days across six Registers. Please explore and enjoy them all!

TRAVEL HUB FOR GOLDEN AGE AIRFIELDS

Clover Field, Santa Monica, CA
WWW.CLOVERFIELD.ORG
Register open December 31, 1928 to August 4, 1939
Number of days Register was open = 3,878
Number of landings recorded = 798 over 35 pages
Web site went online June 13, 2013

Parks Field, East St. Louis, IL
WWW.PARKSFIELD.ORG
Register open May 24, 1929 to September 10, 1937
Number of days Register was open = 3,031
Number of landings recorded = 1,141 over 55 pages
Web site went online June 13, 2013

Davis-Monthan Municipal Airfield, Tucson, AZ
WWW.DMAIRFIELD.ORG (You're here!)
Register open February 6, 1925 to November 26, 1936
Number of days Register was open = 3,581 days
Number of landings recorded = 3,704 over 218 pages
Web site went online May 4, 2005
Peterson Field, Colorado Springs, CO
WWW.PETERSONFIELD.ORG
Register open February 22, 1929 to August 1, 1940
Number of days Register was open = 4,178
Number of landings recorded = 672 over 29 pages
Web site went online June 13, 2013
Grand Central Air Terminal, Glendale, CA
WWW.GRANDCENTRAL AIR TERMINAL.ORG
Register open December 14, 1930 to November 26, 1935
Number of days Register was open = 1,759
Number of landings recorded = NN over N pages
Web site went online June 13, 2013
Pitcairn Field, Willow Grove, PA
WWW.PITCAIRNFIELD.ORG
Register open October 22, 1927 to January 25, 1942
Number of days Register was open = 5,240
Number of landings recorded = 328 over 21 pages
Web site went online June 13, 2013

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UPLOADED: 05/05 REVISED: 02/10/06, 02/14/06, 06/15/06, 12/30/08, 06/13/13, 01/13/14

 
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OWN A TIME MACHINE: Descriptions of the books linked in the left sidebar.

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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Military Aircraft of the Davis Monthan Register, 1925-1936 is available at the link. This book describes and illustrates with black & white photographs the majority of military aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield between 1925 and 1936. The book includes biographies of some of the pilots who flew the aircraft to Tucson as well as extensive listings of all the pilots and airplanes. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-2-5.

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Art Goebel's Own Story by Art Goebel (edited by G.W. Hyatt) is written in language that expands for us his life as a Golden Age aviation entrepreneur, who used his aviation exploits to build a business around his passion.  Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-1-8.

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Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race is available at the link. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. What was it like to fly from Oakland to Honolulu in a single-engine plane during August 1927? Was the 25,000 dollar prize worth it? Did the resulting fame balance the risk? For the first time ever, this book presents the pilot and navigator's stories written by them within days of their record-setting adventure. Pilot Art Goebel and navigator William V. Davis, Jr. take us with them on the Woolaroc, their orange and blue Travel Air monoplane (NX869) as they enter the hazardous world of Golden Age trans-oceanic air racing. ISBN 978-0-9843074-3-2.

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