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Some of 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 (NASM), 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, while supplies last.

---o0o--- Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of 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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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.


Military Aircraft of the Davis Monthan Register, 1925-1936 is available at the link. This book describes and illustrates with black & white photographs the majority of military aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield between 1925 and 1936. The book includes biographies of some of the pilots who flew the aircraft to Tucson as well as extensive listings of all the pilots and airplanes. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author, while supplies last.






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Registration Number NC1517

Scenic Flyer

This aircraft is a Stinson SM-1 Detroiter, manufacturer’s serial number M-209. It was manufactured in August, 1927 by Stinson Aircraft Corporation, Northville, MI. It was sold the same month to Scenic Airways, Inc. of Detroit, and licensed on September 9, 1927 “To be entered in New York-Spokane Air Race and then based at Grand Canyon, Arizona.” The Aircraft Yearbook for 1928 does not list any Stinson in any of the competitive events of the 1927 National Air Derby.

It came from the factory with a 200 HP Wright Whirlwind J5-CA, S/N 7745. The engine was changed to a 220 HP model (S/N 7741) on September 16, 1927. The airplane weighed 3,310 pounds.

The Davis-Monthan transient Register lists 14 visits by NC1517 between January 25, 1928 and January 18, 1929. J. Parker Van Zandt, who was the President and General Manager of Scenic Airways, Inc, piloted the first 8 flights. Based at Grand Canyon, the destinations for these visits were listed as Nogales, AZ and Phoenix. Four visits to Davis-Monthan were overnight (1/25/28-1/26/28; 1/31/28-2/1/28; 3/6/28-3/7/28; 3/14/28-3/15/28). Norman W. Patten, while Scenic Airways owned the plane, piloted a 9th flight.

On May 4, 1928, with 94 hours total time, the airplane was sold to Harry. H. Culver, Culver Building, Culver City, CA. It was then based at Rogers Airport, Los Angeles. Its final five visits at Tucson were piloted by Culver's personal pilot J.B. Dickson. On July 2, 1928 the airplane landed at Davis-Monthan on a trip from El Paso, TX to Culver City. Its final visit was an hour visit during a flight from Douglas, AZ to Santa Monica, CA.

On January 30, 1929 it was sold to California Aerial Transport, 9800 West Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, CA. This company was its final owner. On July 11, 1932, upon renewing its license, it was listed as having 851:15 hours total time. California Aerial Transport reported its final disposition on February 15, 1933 as, “no longer in service, torn down and disposed of.” With roughly 5.5 years of service flying roughly 900 hours, it averaged about 160 flight hours per year. Its license was cancelled March 10, 1933.

From one source, to paraphrase Mark Twain, the news that the airplane was "torn down and disposed of" might be slightly exaggerated. A Stinson painted in Scenic Airways livery and identified as "1517" is flying today. However, the serial number of that airplane is M-267. Compare this number with the one in the first line on this page: they are different airplanes. M-267 was manufactured in 1929, a year after the real 1517 landed at Tucson. A present-day photograph from the Journal of the American Aviation Historical Society (AAHS) is below. It shows nicely what the real NC1517 looked like back in the late 1920s.

Stinson SM1-B S/N M-267 Dressed in NC1517 Livery (Source: AAHS)
Stinson SM1-B Dressed in NC1517 Livery (Source: AAHS)


UPLOADED: 6/9/05 REVISED: 01/23/06, 07/11/12, 12/12/12

The Register
I'm looking for 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.


Art Goebel's Own Story by Art Goebel (edited by G.W. Hyatt) is written in language that expands for us his life as a Golden Age aviation entrepreneur, who used his aviation exploits to build a business around his passion.  Available as a free download at the link.


Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race is available at the link. What was it like to fly from Oakland to Honolulu in a single-engine plane during August 1927? Was the 25,000 dollar prize worth it? Did the resulting fame balance the risk? For the first time ever, this book presents the pilot and navigator's stories written by them within days of their record-setting adventure. Pilot Art Goebel and navigator William V. Davis, Jr. take us with them on the Woolaroc, their orange and blue Travel Air monoplane (NX869) as they enter the hazardous world of Golden Age trans-oceanic air racing.


Clover Field: The First Century of Aviation in the Golden State. With the 100th anniversary in 2017 of the use of Clover Field as a place to land aircraft in Santa Monica, this book celebrates that use by exploring some of the people and aircraft that made the airport great.



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