Eldred L. "Remy" Remelin landed once at Tucson, Monday, October 30, 1928. He flew the Lockheed Vega NC7805. His VIP passengers were Allan Lockheed and Norman Hall. Lockheed, of course, owned the company. Passenger Hall was the first marketing officer of the Lockheed team. He handled public relations and sales. He also served as publicist for Roscoe Turner. Eastbound from Burbank, CA, Remelin and his passengers remained overnight in Tucson, departing the next day to El Paso, TX.
The photograph below is shared with us by friend of dmairfield.org, John Underwood. It shows Remelin in the cockpit of a mail plane, perhaps studying a chart or schedule. Editorial comment: The left-hand railing on the portable stairway has an interesting Escher-like quality, seeming to align with the right-hand stair riser.
E.L. Remelin (in cockpit), Ca. Late 1920s-Early 1930s, Location Unknown (Source: Underwood)
As a "night airmail pilot", Remelin wrote "Up Through the Soup" published in Popular Mechanics in February, 1931. He wrote about what it was like to fly the coast of California at night, in fog, in the early mail planes with radios having only transmit and receive capability and no navigational means. He wrrote, "Suppose you fly up the coast with me in the plane 'Baker.' I take off from San Diego at 10:15 p.m. Two minutes later comes my turn to report. I'm on the air: 'Remelin northbound, Baker calling San Diego. Over Ryan field.'
"'Okay,' sings the operator on the ground below.
"Ten minutes later. I am due again on the air. Here it goes: 'Remelin northbound, Baker, calling San Diego. Fifty five hundred feet over Miramar Beach. On top of fog. Okay."
And so on up to Bakersfield and beyond, reporting position and condition every ten minutes. The route is laid out in contiguous squares, each ten miles on a side. The timing of the transmissions is critical, since the long-wave radio signals carry, and could interfere with, say, pilots flying the Chicago mail route: Each pilot had a fixed time to report, staggered around the clock dial.
Below, the front and back views of a postal cachet carried by Remelin on July 1, 1930 between San Diego and Burbank, CA. These images are shared with us by site visitor Jeff Staines.
CAM 8 Postal Cachet, July 1, 1930 (Source: Staines)
Mr. Staines says about this cachet, " As a hobby, I collect and research historic American documents, autographs, and Postal history. During the early days of aviation, having pilots sign and carry airmail covers onboard their historic or record-breaking flights was very popular, especially if these envelopes had a "cachet" or some symbol of the flight printed on the cover itself. I have found that almost every early aviator world -wide has signed at least one piece of mail in their lifetime, and I try to collect one autograph of every noted aviator who ever flew before World War 2, E. L. Remelin being one of them." Below, the reverse of the cachet.
CAM 8 Postal Cachet (Reverse), July 1, 1930 (Source: Staines)
Remelin held Contract Air Mail Pilot Certificate no. 24 (1926). He was a Western Air Express pilot or reserve pilot on CAM 4 (1926). He earned Transport Pilot rating no. 574 (1928) and worked for Pacific Air Transport (1928). The "P.A.T." on the cachet above is for Pacific Air Transport.
Below, a portrait of Remelin from June 2, 1932 shared by site visitor, John Leming. Following is the back of the photograph showing the caption for the photo and the circumstances for which the photograph appeared in a Los Angeles, CA newspaper.
E.L. Remelin, June 2, 1932 (Source: Leming)
The caption follows. Thanks to "ACME" and John.
E.L. Remelin, Caption, June 2, 1932 (Source: Leming)
Site visitor Leming also sends this extract from a book he is writing about Catron & Fisk aircraft (scroll down at the link to find information about Catron & Fisk's airplanes).
Eldred Lea Remelin
Eldred Lea Remelin was born August 10, 1989 in Boston Massachusetts. He was the Son of Charles C. and Flora Remelin. Charles Remelin worked for the railroad, and by 1900 the family relocated to the Los Angeles California area. Where his father was a Railroad Clerk. (1)
Growing up in an area of early aircraft pioneers no doubt cultivated his interest in early Aviation. A record of World War One service has not been found, but the popular belief is that he served and received his training in the Army Air Corps. In the 1920 U.S. Census, he is listed as an Aviator, and on April 19, 1920, he and two others incorporated a company known as Sunset Aircraft Corporation at Venice, California. It is not clear if any production aircraft were ever produced. (2) In September 1920, he was interviewed and included in an article concerning a cross county trip he took with fellow aviator Fred Hoyt. The men made the trip from Los Angeles to Chicago in a JN-4D, “barnstorming” their way across the United States. The same aviation journal also gave him credit with creation of a nighttime air mail scene used on the cover of their publication. (3) In another edition, Remelin’s photo appeared along with 47 other, “’well Known aviators’ in the west”. (4)
In March 1922, he was working as a test pilot at Rogers airport and Mercury Aircraft. At that time, he was hired by Edwin M. Fisk to test new twin motored aircraft for passenger service. Upon certification of the new planes (CF-10) Remelin became the chief pilot for Catron and Fisk, flying a new route between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The route would make stops at Bakersfield, Fresno and Modesto. (5)
One of the first of several career accidents happened on 1922, when Remelin took off at 3pm for the regular route with two passengers on board one of the big triplanes. He lost power in one engine shortly after takeoff and apparently one of the wings stalled as the plane rolled and fell to the ground for 300 feet. The triplane was a complete loss however there were no injuries. (6)
By 1926, Remelin held an Air Mail Pilot Certificate and worked for both Western Air Express and Pacific Air Transport. In 1928 he received his air transport rating. He wrote an article that was published in Popular Mechanics in 1931, titled “Up Through The Soup”. The article characterized his experiences in the Air Mail Service. (7)
In June 1932, Remelin escaped injury when his Air Mail plane caught fire in flight at or near Fresno California. (AAMC crash 320602) Remelin possessed parachutes, but determined to save the mail, stayed with the plane and landed in a cow pasture. Before the fire consumed the entire plane, he was able to escape and save part of the mail. The story was carried in news throughout the United States and a photo was included in the Los Angeles Illustrated Daily News. (8)
Shortly thereafter, Remelin landed his career job at United Airlines where he was recognized as one of three “Million Mile Fliers” in July, 1935. (9)
During World War II he served in the Army Air Corps for three years. He returned to United in 1945 and eventually ended up flying the California to Hawaii route with passengers. In 1955, he again appeared in the news when he lost an engine on a DC-6B “Mainliner” three hours after takeoff from Los Angeles. A cool head and some tense hours were spent as he returned to Los Angeles, escorted by a Coast Guard amphibian. (10)
He retired in 1960 but remained active in aviation as he continued to write articles and serve as witness and technical advisor concerning aviation. Remelin spent much of his free time building and racing motorboats in the 1930’s and 40’s. His boat known as “Half Pint” won several well known races at the Los Angeles Motorboat Speedway. (11)
He died in Orange County California January 22, 1988. He had been married to his wife Nina for nearly 60 years and had at least one daughter, Annabelle, who pre-deceased him. (12)
- United States Census, 1910. National Archives and Record Administration, roll T624. NARA, Washington D.C. Pr4ovided thru Ancestry.com, Ancestry Operations Inc, 2000
- Machinery Markets and News Of the Works. The Iron Age . New York, New York. Vol. 105 No. 18, April 29, 1920 page 1291
- Los Angeles to Chicago. The Ace Magazine, Vol. 2 No. 2 September 1, 1920 page 12 and page 20. Ace Publishing Company, Los Angeles Ca.
- 49 Flyers Well Known In The West. The Ace , Vol. 2 No. 7, February 1,1921, page 21. Ace Publishing Company, Los Angeles Ca.
- News of the Week. Aerial Age Weekly. New York, New York. Vol XV No 1. March 13, 1922 page 4
- Plane plunges in Bakersfield. The San Bernardino County Sun. March 3, 1922.
- Up Through The Soup. E. L Remelin, Popular Mechanics. 200 E. Ontario Street, Chicago U.S.A. Vol. 55 No. 2, February 1931 page 258.
- Daring Mail Pilot Sticks to Burning Plane. The San Bernardino Daily Sun. June 3, 1932 page 4.
- Million Milers. Popular Mechanics. Vol. 64 No. 2, August 1935
- Airliner T urns Back From Hawaii Flight. San Bernardino County Sun, August 1955
- Loretta Turnbull Takes Hurst Trophy. Motorboating, Vol. LII No. 5, November 1933 page 45.,
- California Death Index, 1940-1997. State of California Health Services Center for Statistics. Provided thru Ancestry.com, Ancestry operations Inc. 2000.
Copyright, John E. Leming, Jr. 2012
Remelin worked for United Airlines later in his career, flying DC-7 Mainliners between Los Angeles, CA and Honolulu, HI. He published a very short article in the Jan-December, 1958 Rotarian, which provided airline passengers with tips on how to travel by air. Below, courtesy of Mr. Leming, is a portrait of Remelin near 1960, his retirement date from United.
E.L. Remelin, Ca. 1960 (Source: Leming)
I have very little other information for pilot Remelin. He has a very sparse Web presence, mostly related to the articles cited above. If you can help build his biography, please CONTACT me.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 03/12/10 REVISED: 01/31/11, 03/22/14