Registration Number NC5877
A 1928 Ford Reliability Tour Airplane
we have what may be an interesting curiosity in record keeping. Although
NC5877 was a valid competitor in the 1928 Ford Reliability
Tour, the evidence of who was flying it (as recorded in the
airfield Register) runs counter to the official record. For
comparison, see NC5878,
and refer to page 48 of the
Our aircraft was a Monocoupe, S/N 57 (ATC #22) built in 1928
(date unknown) by the Mono-Aircraft Co. of Moline, IL. It
came equipped with a 45 HP Velie engine, S/N 128. As a two-seater,
it weighed 1,350 pounds.
It sold on June 25, 1928 to Atkinson Aviation Company, Gary, IN
and immediately participated in the Ford Reliability Tour
of 1928 (June 30-July 28, 1928). According to the NASM record for this
airplane, it was SUPPOSED to have been piloted by Lloyd H.
“Jack” Atkinson. See the page for NC5878 for an exposition of the data surrounding who was flying 5877 and 5878.
Its pilot is clearly identified
in the Register not as Atkinson, but as Phoebe
Fairgrave Omlie, an aggressive race competitor of the
20s and 30s. She landed solo with the airplane wearing Tour
#29. The 1928 Reliability Tour passed through Tucson. It was
during the tour, on July 10, 1928, that NC5877 touched down amid
the flurry of other tour participants that landed late in
the morning (look at the bottom of this page 46 to get a
feel for the energy of that morning).
Follow this link
for information on the Ford Tours. Follow the choices on the
home page to read the book titled THE FORD AIR TOURS: 1925-1931
by Leslie Forden. You can see a photo of Phoebe Omlie in the
group photo on page 83 in chapter 4. She’s #5 in the photo. You can
also see Jack Atkinson. He’s #24 in the photo.
As for NC5877, after the Tour it was re-covered (in October
1928), and new landing gear, wheels, tires and upholstery
were installed by the factory. Atkinson Aviation Company went
bankrupt in April 1929 and the airplane was sold June 7, 1929 to
Greer Airways in Chicago for $825 “and all assets”,
which included a Velie/Lambert engine S/N 467.
Through 1936 the airplane changed hands eight more times,
living mostly in the upper midwest. Finally, it was purchased
on December 7, 1936 by Cleon Eldridge Hodges of Webb City, MO. Hodges
was a student pilot with an attitude. On December 27, 1936 he crashed
the Monocoupe in Joplin, MO. His student pilot license was
revoked on the spot for one year for, “low flying, aerobatics
over crowds, no parachute.” The registration was cancelled
as of December 27, 1936.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 6/28/05 REVISED: 12/19/09