Dan Beard was born to missionary parents in Foochow, China
on November 13, 1896. His birth was registered at the American
Consulate there, making him an American citizen. He came
to the U.S. in 1909.
During WWI he received
pilot training in the Aviation Section of the Army Signal
Corps. He received an engineering degree from
the University of Michigan in 1925.
During the 1920s he worked at the Fairchild Engine and Aircraft
Company, and later joined American Airways, a predecessor
of American Airlines.
Dan actually visited Tucson twice. On July
10, 1928 he blew into town with a couple of dozen other pilots
as part of the National
Air Tour. They all landed in the morning that Tuesday,
which must have made quite a scene at the Airfield.
flying a Waco GXE, NX3132. Like the other contestants, he
was westbound from El Paso to the next stops at Yuma, AZ, San
Diego and Los
Angeles, CA. He was in good company, with Eddie Stinson,
William Brock and Phoebe Omlie as
fellow competitors. At the finish line on July 28th, he
placed 21 out of 24.
His Tour Waco was the primary testbed for the new Fairchild
Caminez engine. At the time of the Tour, he
was the Installation Engineer and Test Pilot for the company,
based at Farmingdale, Long Island, NY. He became the Chief
Test Pilot in 1928. If you go to the National Air Tour link
cited above and download the Forden book (PDF) from that
Web site, you'll find a description of the "Cam Waco" in chapter
4 (with more information about the 1928 Tour and another
photo of pilot Beard standing next to his airplane). The
airplane/engine combination wasn't a pretty situation, as
the engine vibrated severely and destroyed propellers and
stressed the airframe (Beard had sent eleven propellers ahead
for replacements along his route!).
He went to work for American Airways as a co-pilot from
1932-34. He flew the Cleveland, OH to Fort Worth, TX run,
a 6-day round trip in those days. Then he went to work for
American Airlines as chief engineering pilot from 1934-41.
Dan Beard in American Airlines Uniform, ca. post-1938
Above, pilot Beard with Stinson "Reliant" SR-10E. The American Airlines fleet is described in Juptner, Volume 7, page 274. This image is from the Charles Cooper Collection available to view on this Web site.
On December 22,1935 he took delivery of the first DC-3 from
Douglas and for the next three months, with a Douglas test
pilot, put this original machine through its paces in development
testing around southern California. In Beard's opinion, the
DC-3 became the outstanding airplane of the time because
it struck the perfect balance among the five vital factors
of a transport aircraft: power, speed, payload, wing area
His second visit to the Airfield is not so
apparent, mainly because he was probably the co-pilot on
the first American Airlines Douglas Sleeper Transport . The
airplane, the Douglas DC-3 NC14988, landed at Tucson on May
4, 1936. If you look at the Register page that
logs this flight, near the bottom you'll see Dan Beard's
name and that of E.L. "Slonny" Sloniger listed, along with
what I assume are the names of passengers. I've read a couple
of accounts that suggest that Sloniger was pilot in command
at the time of this landing.
Below is NC14988 in American Airlines livery as it sat shining
on the sunlit ramp at Glendale, CA on May 1, 1936, just days
before Beard and Sloniger brought it to Tucson (image from
AAHS Journal, Spring 2005, page 35).
According to NASM records, Dan Beard held Air Transport
Pilot license #755, and had accumulated 4,450 flight hours
as of 1941. During WWII he served as Chief Military Engineering
Pilot for American Airlines' Military Operations Department.
He worked with teams who surveyed North Atlantic airways.
In 1943 he went to Brazil in order to "Americanize" the
Brazilian airlines, which previously had been a part of
German operation in South America.
Shortly after his return to the U.S. he was made Director
of Flight Engineering for American. In 1950 he was appointed
Chief Engineer. He worked closely with Dougas engineers on
the new DC-7, which was delivered to American in 1953. From
1954 to 1960 he helped develop the Boeing 707, Lockheed Electra
and Convair 990 jet transports.
Myron Gould Beard died Thursday, December 26, 1974 in Northport,
Long Island, NY.
UPLOADED: 03/04/06 REVISED: 10/08/07, 03/01/08