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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 Miller's visit in this aircraft is inscribed on page 186.


http://www.cafepress.com/content/global/img/spacer.gifThe Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of www.dmairfield.org and the 10th year of effort on the project dedicated to analyze and exhibit the history embodied in the Register of the Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ. This book includes over thirty people, aircraft and events that swirled through Tucson between 1925 and 1936. It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders. Order your copy at the link, or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author.  ISBN 978-0-9843074-4-9.


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Kellett K-3 NC12691, S/N 16, appears in the Register on April 13, 1932. It was flown to Tucson by pilot George H. Miller. He carried a single passenger, R.H. Marti. They were westbound having arrived from El Paso, TX. They did not list a final destination in the Register.

NC12691 was a coupe top K-3, and was used in two Hollywood films, "International House" with W.C. Fields, and "It Happened One Night" with Clark Gable. Below, a still image from "International House". This movie was released in 1933, so it could be that Miller was flying the aircraft west to make its movie debut.

Kellett K-3 NC12691 in the Movie "International House" (Source: Hendrickson)
Kellett K-3 NC12691 in the Movie "International House"

In "International House" W.C. Fields, playing Professor Henry Quail, is shown on the ground at Juarez, Mexico in the cockpit of what is supposed to be NC12691. He is loading a large cargo of illicit beverages (Prohibition was the law of the land until December, 1933). During loading he is, of course, loading into himself mug after mug of beer from a tray tendered by a patient ground attendant. He then "takes off" in this autogiro. The image above is of that takeoff. In the movie, the aircraft bobs and weaves; a function of both the heavy load of liquor and the inebriated pilot.

In "It Happened One Night" (1934), the aircraft appears near the end of the film carrying bridegroom King Wesley to his posh wedding. You can view this movie on Google Videos in its entirety at the link. If you slide the time marker to about 1:35:15 (near the end), you'll see NC12691 approach for a landing and come to a stop. A site visitor tells me the pilot in this scene was John Miller (no relationship, as far as I know, to George Miller who flew the aircraft through Tucson). Below, a still image captured from about 1:35:33 of the film. I went through the landing sequence frame by frame and couldn't say I identified the pilot as John, but the black & white film was very grainy, so it might have been John.

Kellett K-3 NC12691 in the Movie "It Happened One Night," 1934 (Source: Google Video)
Kellett K-3 NC12691 in the Movie "It Happened One Night," 1934 (Source: Google Video)

Below, courtesiy of Tim Kalina, is a photo of NC12691 allegedly at either Bay Meadows San Mateo or the Curtiss-Wright Hangar at Alameda / Oakland Air Field. The tower in the background looks more like the Grand Central Air Terminal, Glendale, CA. The person is unidentified. According to aerofiles.com, this airplane cost $8,135 new and was probably built sometime in early 1932. Notice the enclosed cabin with side-by-side seating for two persons.

NC12691, Early 1930s (Source: Kalina)


UPLOADED: 06/15/11 REVISED: 07/20/11, 01/19/16

The Register
The top image on this page is used with permission from Jay Hendrickson, Platt-LePage Aircraft Co. Archives. Many thanks to Jay for sharing it with us.
Please direct your browser to Jay's link to see a profile of the Platt-LePage Aircraft Co.
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