THE "QUESTION MARK"
Fokker C-2 Transport 28-120, The "Question Mark"
At right, Fokker C-2 Transport 28-120, named the "Question
Mark", landed twice at Tucson, first on December 21, 1928 at 1:45PM.
The pilot was Ira C. Eaker, and he and his crew were westbound from Midland, TX to San Diego, CA to embark on what was to become the first military air-to-air refueling record. This image comes to us courtesy of the Klein
Archive of Aviation Photographs available for view on this website.
28-120 came to Tucson the second time on January 21, 1929. The pilot this time was Carl
Spatz. Spatz and his crew remained overnight at Tucson,
departing at 7:00 next morning. The location of this image at right is unknown, but see this link for
an image of Spatz and the "Question Mark" on the
ground at Tucson on January 21st.
You might note, if you go to the Register page (74-75) that Eaker signed the registration number for this airplane as "28-160". This was an error on his part, as the airplane is 28-120. Earlier in the Register, in August, 1928, 28-160 was signed in as a Douglas O-2H.
"Question Mark" is a famous aircraft, because
it set an early Army refueled endurance record between January 1-7, 1929; a total of 150 hours and 40 minutes. Refer to the link to Spatz' page above for an overview
of the flight and just what kinds of preparations went into
the endurance flight. The details are withering!
Below are three photographs of the "Question Mark" from the San Diego Aerospace Museum (SDAM). The first is an official Army photo taken in flight on October 13, 1929 at 10:05AM, about nine months after it passed through Tucson to and from its historic flight.
Fokker C-2, 28-120, Location Unknown, October 23, 1929 (Source: SDAM)
The second is an official Army photo from the third day of its historic flight, January 4, 1929 at 1:00PM. It is being refueled by #1 of the two aircraft assigned as refuelers over Burbank, CA. Although the refueling hose is barely visible in the original, adjusting contrast with PhotoShop shows that it is there and the aircraft are connected. Can anyone identify any landmarks with Google Earth and SEND ME an image?
Fokker C-2, 28-120, California, January 4, 1929 (Source: SDAM)
What happens if you juxtapose the geolocation of the above photo with contemporary Google Earth imagery? Below, courtesy of Bob Woodling (right sidebar), is the approximate Google Earth image. The box approximates the borders of the photo above.
Google Earth Image of January 4, 1929 Location (Source:Woodling)
Now superimpose the two images above; adjust and you get the composite below. Mr. Woodling states, "Using google map in 3D I located where the camera was pointing to capture the subject image on the 28-120 page. The blue box superimposed on the attached screen shot is roughly the same area as the 1929 photo. So I'm speculating the camera airplane was very close to being directly overhead what is now the Burbank airport and the camera was facing directly north."
Google Earth and January 4, 1929 Composite (Source:Woodling)
According to Wikipedia, "The crew of Question Mark consisted of Spaatz [sic], Eaker, Quesada, 1st Lt. Harry A. Halverson, and Sgt. Roy W. Hooe. Refueling Airplane No. 1 (at Rockwell) was crewed by pilots Capt. Ross G. Hoyt and 1st Lt. Auby C. Strickland, with 2nd Lt. Irwin A. Woodring reeling the hose. Refueling Airplane No. 2 (at Van Nuys) was crewed by pilots 1st Lt. Odas Moon and 2nd Lt. Joseph G. Hopkins, and hose handler 2nd Lt. Andrew F. Solter."
Four pilots of the 95th Pursuit Squadron, based at Rockwell Field, flew the PW-9 "blackboard planes": 1st Lt. Archie F. Roth, and 2nd Lts. Homer W. Kiefer, Norman H. Ives, and Roger V. Williams.
Below, the "Question Mark" is refueled on the last day of its record flight over the Imperial Valley, January 7, 1929. Note the fuel line between the airplanes and the crew member wrestling with the nozzle. A two-minute video of the "Question Mark" during its flight is available at the link. All the crew members are shown briefly toward the end of the clip.
Fokker C-2, 28-120, California, January 7, 1929 (Source: SDAM)
Although it is not clear from the Register, Spatz is identified
here as pilot for the second landing at Tucson, as he was listed
first. Spatz was the official pilot and Eaker was the official
co-pilot during the endurance run. As well as Maj. Carl Spatz,
Capt. Ira Eaker,
Sgt. Roy Hooe, and Lt.
E.R. Quesada, Mr. H.J. Adamson and Capt. Ross Hoyt are listed in the Pilot field in the Register. You can see Hoyt in the photograph above as the pilot of refueling plane #1.
Below, from the SDAM, the final crew of the "Question Mark." They are, L-R, Hooe, Quesada, Halverson, Eaker and Spatz. This photograph was taken either before or after the flight, since all are cleaned up and shaved. Note the "?" to Spatz' left.
Crew of the Question Mark," January, 1929, (L-R) Hooe, Quesada, Halverson, Eaker & Spatz (Source: SDAM)
Someone wrote "Question Mark" in the Passenger
field of the Register. The name of the airplane was based on how long the
crew thought they would remain aloft: they didn't really
Interestingly, the Army endurance flight coincided with
an endurance record set by Register pilot Bobbi
Trout. Their airplanes were in the air at the same time
and in the same vicinity. Spatz dropped a note of encouragement
from the "Question Mark"
that was shared with Trout.
The "Question Mark", Spatz and Eaker enjoy good Web coverage (see some examples in the left sidebar).
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 09/30/07 REVISED: 03/24/08, 03/05/09, 06/29/09, 03/11/10, 06/21/11, 02/17/13, 12/15/18, 05/31/19