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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.


Juptner, Joseph. 1962-1981. U.S. Civil Aircraft. Volumes 1-9. Aero Publishers, Inc. Fallbrook, CA.

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This airplane is a Lockheed Vega Model 1 (S/N 38; ATC #49) manufactured in February 1929 by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, CA.  It left the factory with a Wright Whirlwind engine (S/N 9321) of 220 HP.  It was a five-place airplane.

NC197E was a Lockheed factory demonstrator during 1929-30.  It sold on August 27, 1930 to Wedell-Williams Air Service, Inc., Patterson, LA.  We find NC197E landing at Tucson on the next day flown by R.W. Henderson.  On August 28, 1930 he carried one unidentified passenger.  They were eastbound from Burbank, CA to Patterson, LA during what was in all probability the ferry flight of this airplane to Wedell-Williams ownership.

A model of this airplane is displayed at the Wedell-Williams Museum in Patterson, LA. Below, a photo of the model taken February 24, 2005.

Lockheed Vega NC197E, Model, February 25, 1005 (Source: Webmaster)
Lockheed Vega NC197E, Model, February 25, 1005 (Source: Webmaster)

A couple of months later, on October 12, 1930, NC197E suffered an accident at Orange, TX.  It was repaired and modified to a Vega 5 model under ATC #93, and had a Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine installed.

Wedell-Williams reorganized as Wedell-Williams Air Service Corporation and sold the airplane internally to itself on February 31, 1933.  It was flown on their air routes.  It suffered another accident at Patterson, LA on April 29, 1934.  No details regarding damage or injuries.  It was repaired.

It sold on December 1, 1936 to North American Aviation, Inc., New York, NY, which was a holding company for Eastern Airlines, which acquired Wedell-Williams.  NC197E sold again on February 8, 1937 (EAL reducing inventory?) to Charles H. Babb, Glendale, CA.  Under his ownership, it was modified and licensed as a Vega 2D under ATC #2-377.  The image below, from Juptner, volume 9, page 166, was taken after that modification (reference, left sidebar). The same image is available here.

NC197E, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Juptner)
NC197E, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Juptner)

On October 10, 1941, Babb sold it to Marshall Searle, Beverly Hills, CA (Searle Aero Industries).  There is no record of what Searle used the airplane for.  Less than two years later, as WWII was spooling up, the War Department, U.S. engineers Office, San Francisco, CA wrote the CAA referring to file 452.  The file stated that they had purchased the airplane through contract # W-412-eng.-53.

The airplane had become government property and “was in operation outside the continental limits of the United States.”  No further information.


THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 04/15/06 REVISED: 12/17/08, 10/17/11, 12/06/11

The Register
I'm looking for photographs of this airplane to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.

---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, or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author.  ISBN 978-0-9843074-4-9.


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