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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 at the link. Or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-0-1.


This download (PDF, 400kB) is a Beech-Nut Packing Company advertising brochure, which features Beech-Nut chewing gums and the Beech-Nut autogiro. Brochure courtesy of Tim Kalina.


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This aircraft is a Pitcairn PCA-2 autogiro, S/N B-12 (ATC #410), manufactured in April 1931 by Pitcairn Aircraft, Inc., Willow Grove, PA. It came from the factory with a Wright J-6 engine (S/N 12528) of 300HP. It had a Hartzell steel propeller.  It was a three-place craft, weighing 3,000 pounds.

NC10780 was sold to George Palmer Putnam, husband of Amelia Earhart, of New York, NY on May 7, 1931.  This autogiro is the “older” (by a week) sister ship of NC10781 flown through Tucson by John M. Miller.  The long distance contest between these two aircraft, in the hands of Miller and Earhart, is summarized at pilot Miller’s link.  More details, and two images of Amelia and NC10780, are here.

Image, below, is of the company order sheet for Earhart's acquisition of his cross-country autogiro. Thanks to David Pitcairn for sharing this historic document with us directly from the Pitcairn corporate archives. Note the colors of the aircraft as delivered from the factory on May 7, 1931. This was a very attractive aircraft.

Order Sheet, NC10780 (Source: Pitcairn)
Order Sheet, NC10780

We find our autogiro landing at Tucson on June 10, 1931 at 10:00AM flown by Amelia carrying one unidentified passenger. They were inbound from Phoenix, AZ and identified their destination as "Points east". If you followed and digested the links above, you'll know this probably wasn't a pleasant flight for Amelia and her passenger. She had just been edged out of a transcontinental autogiro record by John Miller.

The Beech-Nut Packing Company, Canajoharie, NY, sponsored Earhart’s early flights with NC10780.  She was not a very careful pilot with this aircraft, taking delivery from the factory with a minimum of check-out flying and practice landings. Her inexperience shows up later in the damage history of NC10780.

Below, from friend of John Underwood, we see NC10780 on the ground at an unknown location on an unknown date. Earhart stands among a group of six men, perhaps reviewing a navigational chart. Note the people around her aircraft, which was a rare item in 1930s airspace. Others stand off-camera right, as evidenced by their shadows.

NC10780, Unknown Date & Location (Source: Underwood)
NC10780, Unknown Date & Location (Source: Underwood)

Among other products, the Beech-Nut company manufactured Beech-Nut chewing gum, which was supplied in bulk to Earhart for distribution to the crowds who gathered to witness her cross country landings.  NC10780 was purchased by Beech-Nut on July 11, 1931, and Earhart continued to fly it for company promotions.  It was painted green (the cream panel remained), with “BEECH-NUT” painted large upon its flanks. Below is a model of NC10780 in its display case at the NASM. You can see nicely the rear pilot cockpit, and the forward cockpit for two passengers. Photo taken by your Webmaster.

NC10780 Model

NC10780 suffered at least two accidents while under Earhart’s command in Beech-Nut livery.  The NASM record alludes to repairs being made at the factory at the time Beech-Nut bought it.  It is not clear if the repairs were the result of an accident. These repairs could account, too, for the change in color scheme from the original red (see factory order sheet, above) to green.

The NASM record (see below) is wrong that the autogiro crashed on "July" 12, 1931. NC10780 crashed on June 12th at Abilene, TX (a day after Beech-Nut bought it).  It landed in a parking lot on top of cars.  Although she and her mechanic passenger were uninjured, pilot Earhart received a formal reprimand for carelessness and poor judgment from the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Aviation.  The second accident, on September 12, 1931, occurred at Detroit, MI.  The rotor blades were damaged beyond repair, and the undercarriage and spars were damaged.  It was repaired with new rotors. Earhart, however, continued her voyage with a new autogiro (NC10788) bought for her by Beechnut.

Below, courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr Stream (SDAM), is a photograph of one of the accidents. It is not clear which, but it looks like the September one, because of the extreme undercarriage damage and the lack of cars underneath it.

NC10780 Crashed, Probably at Detroit, September 12, 1931 (Source: SDAM)

Between 1932 and 1934 ownership of NC10780 passed between two individuals and their corporate entity, Gyro-Ads., Inc., Howard Beach, NY (S.S. Pike, President; Frank Saglimbene, Sec.-Treas.).  It suffered an accident at Valley Stream, NY on May 7, 1933 and was repaired.  Sometime in 1934 it was sold to Monard Flyers, Inc., Woodhaven, NY.  There is no NASM record of Monard’s use of the aircraft.

On May 23, 1936, Monard Flyers sold NC10780 to Morton Ingebritsen, Oslo, Norway.  It was exported to Norway in May 1936 under export certificate #E-1923.  No further information.  Does anyone know what happened to NC10780?

Below, a photograph of the aircraft from friend of, John Underwood.

Pitcairn PCA-2 Autogiro, Date& Location Unknown (Source: Underwood)
Pitcairn PCA-2 Autogiro, Date& Location Unknown: (Source: Underwood)


The NASM record for Amelia's autogiro is as follows:

NC10780 NASM Data Sheet


Her aircraft in three-view looked like this:

PCA-2 Autogiro


THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 07/05/06 REVISED: 07/31/08, 10/05/09, 01/21/10, 03/10/10, 05/16/13, 11/23/14

The Register

I'm looking for unpublished photographs of this airplane to include on this page. If you have one or more you'd like to share, please use this FORM to contact me.

This link shows an image of Earhart on June 3, 1931 taken at Denver, CO.

See also this link for a long shot of the autogiro at Denver.

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