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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.


Your copy of the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register with all the pilots' signatures and helpful cross-references to pilots and their aircraft is available here.


Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register
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Registration Number 5559

With Pilots Like This, A Parachute Just Doesn’t Help

This aircraft is a Ryan B-1 Brougham, S/N 124 (ATC 25). It shares lineage with the “Spirit of St. Louis”, but was built during the following year. The B.F. Mahoney Aircraft Co., San Diego, CA manufactured it on 6/13/28. It was equipped with a 220 HP Wright J-5AB Whirlwind engine, S/N 8518. It weighed 3,300 pounds.

The airplane landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield on 6/29/28, piloted by Frank Glennan. He was accompanied by passengers G.F. Grave and G.A. Prucia. They were inbound from San Diego on their way to El Paso. There was no indication if this was a ferry flight from the factory to its new owners “on approval”.

5559 was sold on 7/5/28 to Mission Airplane Services of San Antonio, TX (Winburn Field). The original Mission dissolved its business on 1/11/30, and the airplane was transferred to William Steinhardt of San Antonio on 1/11/30, who reorganized a new company named Mission Airplane Services, Inc. Thus, the airplane was owned by two different incarnations of the company.

He sold it for $3,000 on 10/15/31 to Francis T. Brady also of San Antonio, who kept it for three years and accumulated 165 flight hours on the airplane. It was noted that the airplane had dual controls. He then sold it to Jesse Q. Bristow of Fort Worth, TX on 11/27/35.

Over the next five years, 5559 changed hands ten times with various minor accidents and repairs accumulated along the way. It stayed mostly in Texas, with its last move being to Stuttgart, AR, sold for $750 with 413 total flight hours. Then came the tragedy. Sensitive readers may want to turn away…

On 10/20/40 at 3:30PM at Haynes, AR in what must have been an air show or at least an aerial demonstration, the airplane crashed with four passengers. They, and pilot George F. Zorn of Leland, MS (commercial pilot license #42447) were all killed, as was parachutist Paul Nalewaja of Bowerville, MN.

Pilot Zorn, circling the parachutist (who had jumped at about 2,800 feet from another airplane) was, “doing part of a turn of a spin, and on recovery from the spin, flying into the parachute at approx. 200’. The impact burst the parachute and severed the shroud lines. The parachutist’s body completely circled the wing of the plane and was plummeted off into space, striking the ground about 100 yards from where the airplane struck. The chute wound around the propeller shaft as the ship fell to earth out of control, striking the ground with the tail almost straight up, remaining so after impact.” Airplane completely destroyed. Possible violation of C.A.R. 66.353 (careless and reckless operation?), but no action taken.



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