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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.


Pilot John Miller has written a book that is a "can't-put-it-down" read. Besides the subject matter, which is itself riveting, John writes an excellent prose sentence, which makes this book extremely readable for a wide audience. It is illustrated with wonderful vintage black-and-white photos

His book is titled "Flying Stories: A Chronicle of Aviation History from Jennys to Jets by the Pilot Who Flew Through It All". Village Press. Traverse City, MI. 117 pp. ISBN 0-9722073-0-9.

The book is available from The American Bonanza Society in 2002, and is available from them at . Follow their Marketplace link.

Image, top right, from page 36 of the book.

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This aircraft is a Pitcairn PCA-2 autogiro, S/N B-13 (ATC #410), manufactured in May 1931 by Pitcairn Aircraft, Inc., Willow Grove, PA. It came from the factory with a Wright J-6 engine (S/N 12529) of 320HP. It was a three-place craft.

John Miller in NC10781, ca. 1933

It was purchased on May 12, 1931 by John McDonald Miller (shown above in the cockpit) of Poughkeepsie, NY. For liability purposes, I suppose, he incorporated and sold the airplane on May 14 to Giro Flyers, Ltd. of Poughkeepsie, of which he was president. Other images of this aircraft are on pilot Miller's Web page.

Image, below, is of the company order sheet for John Miller's purchase 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 12, 1931.

Order Sheet, NC10781
Order Sheet, NC10781

He wasted no time and immediately prepared and flew the aircraft cross-country from Poughkeepsie on the Hudson River in NY to San Diego, CA. In fact, we find pilot Miller and his autogiro in Tucson for the first time on May 28 at 10:09AM, just two weeks after the ink dried on the original bill of sale. He was westbound, enroute from El Paso, TX to Los Angeles, CA.

He made it to the west coast, being the first pilot to fly an autogiro over that route. He remained on the west coast for a few weeks, and on June 21, 1931 he again landed at Tucson at 11:45AM and signed the Register. He was eastbound to El Paso, TX.

At the 1932 National Air Races in Cleveland, pilot Miller and the autogiro were nearing the end of a demonstration program when the autogiro was struck by the craft of a fellow show performer. The accident is summarized on John Miller's Web page, and won't be repeated here. The aircraft was repaired. Image, below, is of the autogiro after it was damaged. Note the bent propeller, missing rotor blade and broken rotor blade.

Pitcairn NC10781 After the 1932 National Air Race Accident
Pitcairn NC10781 After the 1932 National Air Race Accident

To my knowledge, this, and an accident involving his Bonanza in Wyoming in 1997 at age 93 (see his biography page), are the only mishaps Miller had in nearly 80 years of flying.

Miller sold the aircraft to John R. Hopkins of Stockbridge, MA on July 20, 1934. Hopkins kept it for about two years, with Miller hired to fly it. Hopkins sold it on May 16, 1936 to Newman Brothers Flying Service, Inc., of Pine Brook, NJ. The registration was changed to "NR", and the aircraft was used for crop dusting and spraying. It sold twice more, keeping the NR registration. It suffered a "hard landing" on July 24, 1939. It was a hard landing, indeed, since repairs included a new fuselage, new right wing, new rotor blades, new ailerons, new elevators, new landing gear, new brake cables, and the propeller was straightened.

It flew for just two more years. A CAA inquiry in 1940 yielded no answer from the owner. The file on the airplane and the registration were cancelled June 12, 1941. Does anyone know what happened to this aircraft? John Miller claimed that the owner left the autogiro outside without the rotor tied down during a hurricane in Florida and it was destroyed.  This was in one of the the Bonanza society articles he wrote, cited in his book listed in the left sidebar. However, there’s no record on the NASM data card (below) of it being in Florida.  When I sent a copy of the data sheet to John and pointed that out to him, he said he wasn’t really sure of its fate, but that was what he had heard. Below is the paperwork available from the NASM Archives on this aircraft.

NC10781 Data Page 1
NC10781 Data Page 2


Following is a three-view of the PCA-2:

PCA-2 Autogiro


Dossier 3.1.29

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 01/16/06 REVISED: 07/05/06, 10/05/09

The Register

This aircraft is the first of its type ever to be flown from the east coast to the west coast of the United States.

It is also important because its pilot during the transcontinental flight was John M. Miller, who, as of the date this page was uploaded, was alive and well and still flying his Bonanza at 100 years of age.

NOTE: John Miller passed away at age 102 on June 23, 2008.

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