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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.


Some of this information comes from the listings of Non-Prefixed and Non-Suffixed aircraft reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC.


Color iImages are by your Webmaster, at the NASM, August 11, 2005.

There are many more images of this famous airplane on the Web and in numerous books.


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NC7952 is a Lockheed Vega 5 (S/N 22; ATC #93) manufactured December 4, 1928 by the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, CA. It left the factory with a Wasp CB engine (S/N 941) of 420-450HP. It was a 5-place airplane weighing 4,033 pounds gross. It was used by the manufacturer as a demonstrator in the east coast states for over a year, then it was purchased by Amelia Earhart on March 17, 1930.

Image, below, courtesy of Tim Kalina. Note the absence of engine cowling compared to the color images further down the page. Another image on this site is here.

Lockheed Vega NC7952, Burbank, CA, circa December, 1928 (Source: Kalina)
Lockheed Vega NC7952, Burbank, CA, circa December, 1928

The airplane came to Tucson at least four times in 1928-29, during its demonstrator period, it was piloted by Bob Cantwell, E.L. Benway, Bob Starkey and Harold Bromley. Earhart herself landed with it twice, on November 30, 1929 and July 25, 1930, just before and shortly after she purchased it.

NC7952, 8/11/2005

In her hands, it set two records, and suffered a couple of accidents (the strength of Earhart's piloting skills has been argued). On August 25, 1930, at Langley Field, VA, pilot Earhart, "...fell backwards through combination backrest/door in landing and aircraft went over on its back. Aircraft sent to Detroit plant of Detroit Aircraft Corporation. Wing, landing gear and tail surfaces repaired." During these repairs, it was made a Vega 5B under ATC 227 (converted to a 7-place airplane). It was painted deep red, with gold trim.

Follow this link to see a movie of the interior of a Register Vega. Click on VEGAMOVIEAVI. The movie demonstrates the geometry of the combination backrest/door. Its design was an accident waiting to happen.

A note to the CAA dated September 3, 1931 reads: "Decided to scrap fuselage and replace it with the one from Vega #68. The old Ser.#68 was replaced by #22 when this change was made, thereby allowing #22 to retain its original license."

A new Wasp engine (S/N 3812) was installed in 1932, and a "NR" registration (restricted for long-distance flying) was issued to Earhart. She then flew it from Harbor Grace, New Foundland to a bog in Ireland May 20-21, 1932.

Another note in the file reads, "near accident 10/22/32 involving a Braniff Vega. Earhart was landing in crosswind and Braniff pilot got over her somehow."

The airplane was sold on June 27, 1933 to the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia, PA for $7,500 (with obsolete Wasp engine S/N 888). Transferred in 1966, it is now on exhibit at the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC. Not only a record setter, it is the oldest Lockheed airplane in existence.

NC7952, 8/11/2005


UPLOADED: 03/11/06 REVISED: 11/22/07, 07/30/08, 04//11/09

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