LOCKHEED VEGA Model 1 NC197E
OFF TO WAR
This airplane is a Lockheed Vega Model 1 (S/N
38; ATC #49) manufactured in February 1929 by Lockheed Aircraft
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.,
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
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)
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)
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