BOEING 40C/40-B-4 NC178E
OPEN COCKPIT TRANSPORT
This airplane is a Boeing 40C/40-B-4 (S/N 1096; ATC #54/183)
manufactured by the Boeing Airplane Company, Seattle, WA
in December 1928. It left the factory with a Pratt & Whitney
Wasp engine (S/N 230) of 425 HP. It was a five-place
airplane with the pilot sitting in an open cockpit. It
weighed 6,075 pounds. It is one of four model 40s that are signed in the Davis-Monthan Register. The others are NC842M, NC843M, and NC381.
It was test-flown by L.R. Tower and ferried from a field
north of the Boeing plant to Oakland, CA by pilot Grover
Tyler (see below)**. It sold on December 15, 1928 to Pacific Air
Transport Co. (PAT) of San
Francisco, CA. It was named, "Cascade". Tyler was an employee of PAT at the time.
NC178E landed at Tucson twice, on March 29th and April 17,
1929. It was flown both times by C.K. Vance, carrying
three passengers each time. On March 29th, they were
eastbound from Los Angeles, CA to El Paso, TX. On April
17th, they (passengers listed as Humphries, Parmalee and
Frank) were westbound between the same cities after what
appears to be a three-week business or pleasure trip to the
east. They remained in Tucson overnight on their way
On November 20, 1929 the airplane was converted at the Boeing
factory to a model 40-B-4. It was tested again by L.R.
Tower and ferried back to Oakland by pilot J.R. Cunningham. It
was returned to service with Pacific Air Transport.
On April 4, 1931, NC178E was received at the factory for
overhaul. At this time it had a Hornet A-1 engine (S/N
536) installed. It was test-flown by L.R. Tower and
Les Hubble and returned to Pacific Air Transport service
on June 15, 1931 via ferry from Seattle to Oakland by Les
Hubble. Below, courtesy of Tim Kalina, a stunning profile of this magnificent airplane taken June 15, 1931.
Boeing 40C NC178E, June 15, 1931 (Source: Web via Kalina)
Pacific Air Transport was part of the United Airlines family of air carriers assembled by Bill Boeing in 1928, thus the United livery. According to Boeing records (nothing available from CAA),
the airplane was, “sold 12/36.” No further
UPDATE OF 07/18/12 I learned from Sr. Amado Aguiluz Ferrari, Sociedad de Historia Aeronáutica de Honduras, that NC 178E was purchased by the Fuerza Aérea Hondureña (FAH, Honduran Air Force) on December 15, 1936 and given serial FAH-12. On January 25, 1944, the aircraft suffered engine trouble and crashed; flight cadet Héctor Caraccioli Moncada was forced to safely jump in a parachute. This documents the transition of "12/36" cited in Boeing records and closes the book on the story of this airplane.
Below, a photograph of NC178E in Honduras, described by Sr. Ferrari as follows, "The attached photo, from the FAH Collection, depicts the nineteen aircraft which had been acquired by December 31, 1936. The actual date [of the photograph is unknown but could be estimated to have taken place between January 1936 and March 1938; c/n 1096, former NC178E can be seen slightly above number 4 (Boeing 95A, c/n 1068)." It still wears its U.S. registration number.
Boeing Model 40, NC178E, in Honduras (Source: FAH Collection, via Amado Aguiluz F.)
Sr. Ferrari also states, "... on December 15, 1936, the Honduran Air Force received five Boeing Model 40-B-4s, construction numbers 1096 (NC178E), 1158 (NC833M), 1436 (NC10355), 1425 (NC10344) and 1146 (NC3272), which were given serials (tail numbers) 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16." NC833M can be seen just above the airplane with tail number 9. Note the Beech Staggerwing in the foreground and the Curtiss Condor twin-engine transport at far left center.
On the buildings in the far background can be read "TACA," standing for the original Transportes Aéreos Centroamericanos (Central American Air Transport). The lettering on the Ford "woody" station wagon says, "ESCUELA MILITAR DE AVIACION."
**What follows is an exercise in "how far can you peel the onion?" I was contacted by Jim Tyler, grandson of Grover. Although Grover Tyler did not sign the Davis-Monthan Register, according to the NASM information above, he ferried NC178E to its new owner when it was new. Tyler shows up ferrying another Register Boeing Model 40, NC843M (q.v. at the link above). He was an aviation pioneer in his own right.
A couple of years after his ferry flight with 178E, he appeared in an article in The Pilot magazine of February, 1930. The article was in the "Who's Who" section and appears below, courtesy of Jim Tyler.
The Pilot Magazine, February, 1930 (Source: Tyler)
A two-page biography is available at the link (PDF 816kb). There you will learn he was awarded the Air Mail Medal of Honor in 1931 for successfully landing an aircraft that was on fire and saving himself and his passengers. Below, Tyler appeared on a Wheaties box celebrating his medal. There were eight awardees, each celebrated on their own Wheaties box.
Wheaties Box Celebrating Tyler's Air Mail Medal of Honor, Ca. 1931 (Source: Tyler)
News Article, Ca. (?) 1940s (Source: Tyler)
At left is an article that I think is circa 1940s. It describes the first flight by Pacific Coast Airways. Tyler was now working for United Air Lines.
Below, a news article from the Seattle Times, May 5, 1966 documenting Tyler's participation in the dedication of a fountain memorializing the 40th anniversary of the first airmail delivered to Seattle, WA. Author Robert Heilman was a prominent journalist for the Times during this period.
Fountain Dedication, Seattle Times, May 5. 1966 (Source: Tyler)
UPLOADED: 03/28/06 REVISED: 07/01/08, 07/11/08, 05/09/11, 07/18/12, 11/23/16