Registration Number NC2123
Bad Luck at Ely and Willows
This aircraft is a Travel Air 4000(BW), S/N 163, manufactured
by Travel Air Manufacturing Company, Wichita, KS. Due to an
unusually high number of accidents, this aircraft became a
hybrid of parts at the end of its life, and became quite a
different machine than when it left the factory in January,
When it was new, it was fitted with a Wright Whirlwind J4B,
S/N 7007, built in 1926. It weighed 2,405 pounds. It was sold
in January, 1927 to Herbert Cecil Lippiatt, 506 No. Crescent
Heights Blvd., Los Angeles, CA.
Mr. Lippiatt flew to the Davis-Monthan Airfield twice in
this particular airplane. As well, he logged a total of five
visits to the field in at least three different Travel Airs.
On June 14, 1927 he arrived at 3:45 PM carrying one passenger,
Art Goebel. They were subject to an inspection by the U.S. Border Patrol during this visit. They departed at 9:35 PM bound for Los Angeles.
Again, on June 18, 1927, Mr. Lippiatt arrived at Davis-Monthan
Airfield with Mr. Goebel on board. They arrived from Wichita
at 10:00 AM, spent the night, and departed for Los Angeles
at 10:00 AM on the 19th.
Arthur C. Goebel was an aviation pioneer and record setter
himself. In August, 1927, just a couple of months after this
visit to Davis-Monthan, he flew 2,437 miles in 26 hours and
17 minutes in the “Woolaroc”, winning the $25,000
prize for the Dole Flight from the Pacific Coast to Hawaii.
Flying different aircraft, he later visited Davis-Monthan
But, the Travel Air was sold on December 6, 1927 to Pacific Air
Transport, 593 Market St., San Francisco, CA. It was to be
used for Los Angeles to Seattle routes. It was involved in
an accident on May 3, 1928 in Fresno, CA. The pilot, John Guglielmetti
(transport license #221) of Oakland, CA, and one passenger
were unhurt. The airplane was repaired, inspected and returned
to service on 10/19/1928 with Wright J-4B engine c/n 6966.
While it was being repaired, it was sold on August 20, 1928 to
Nevada Airways, Inc., Ely, NV. It had 490 hours total time.
It suffered another accident in Ely on October 27, 1928, a week
after it was returned to service. The pilot, B. Foster (transport
license #2536), Oakland, CA and two passengers had minor injuries.
The landing gear and lower wings washed out and it had one
bent longeron. It was repaired, inspected and returned to
service on January 15, 1929.
Below is a photograph of NC2123 dated April 11, 1929. From the terrain in the background the location may be Nevada. The photo is from the Utah Department of Heritage & Arts (UDHA), Shipler Collection Negative Preservation Project (click section 8 at the link). The automobile is a Nash "400"
owned by the Covey-Callard Motor Co.
Travel Air NC2123, April 11, 1929 (Source: UDHA)
The airplane was purchased on October 8, 1929 by Gordon Griswold,
Elko, NV. Mr. Griswold (private pilot certificate #10384)
crashed the airplane on December 14, 1929 in Ely, NV. He and two passengers
suffered no injuries, but the aircraft had, “upper left
wing damage and rudder and vertical fin damage.” It
was repaired, inspected and approved for return to service
on April 10, 1930. An anti-drag cowling had been installed.
About five years later, on August 17, 1934, the plane was sold
to Newton H. Crumley, Elko, NV. A month later it was resold
on September 21, 1934 to Floyd Harrison Nolta, 418 West Laurel St.,
Willows, CA. It was Licensed “NR” and restricted
for crop dusting and crop sowing with Wright J-5 engine c/n
7665 installed. It had a canvas hopper mounted in the front
Records for the next few years of its life are indistinct.
On April 10, 1939, it was altered by installing an aluminum hopper
and aluminum covering on the fuselage in the rudder area.
And its original fuselage was replaced with one belonging
to Travel Air c/n 564 (formerly licensed as 7282).
As of March 29, 1940 it had logged 3,683:55 hours total time. In
14 years, it had logged an average of over 260 hours per year.
This is admirable, given the amount of downtime it had due
to accidents and repairs. A new right lower wing was installed
and repairs made as of May 2, 1941.
On May 15, 1941 at 6:00AM it crashed two miles east of Willows,
CA. The pilot, William Eddy of Oakland, CA (commercial certificate
#30591), was uninjured. A weld on the landing gear broke on
landing and the plane nosed over. There was damage to the
propeller, upper wing panels, center section, rudder and vertical
stabilizer. It was repaired by May 19, 1941. The damaged parts
were replaced, taken from Travel Air c/n 736 (formerly registered
as 6289). It had Wright J-5, c/n 8363 installed.
A year later on May 17, 1942 at 8:00 AM it was involved in an
accident five miles east of Butte City, CA. The pilot, Rex
O. Williams, 347 San Mateo Dr., San Mateo, CA (commercial
certificate #37691), was uninjured. There was damage to both
lower and one upper wing, landing gear, propeller and engine
case. It was repaired as of May 211942. All four wings were
replaced with factory-built wings. Other repairs were made
with factory parts. Wright J-5 c/n B-10113 was installed.
The rapidity with which repairs were performed is exhilarating.
This plane must have been a prime spraying and sowing resource
for the agricultural community. It couldn’t afford many
days off, especially during wartime. The lack of injuries among the pilots that flew it is testimony to the skills of these ag pilots.
On April 30, 1943 it crashed at 7:00 AM at Willows, CA. Operating
out of a small field sowing rice, coming in for another load,
mud built up in the brakes and the plane nosed over on its
back. The pilot, Chester Derby of Willows (commercial certificate
#48975) was uninjured. The propeller was bent, engine case
broken, rudder and vertical stabilizer damaged. There is no
record of whether it was repaired.
On September 19m 1944 it was sold to W.R. Nolta, R.D. #2, Box 361,
Chico, CA. Wright J-5 c/n 8284 was installed. In March, 1948
it was reported as, “wrecked and used for parts some
time ago.” Its license was cancelled on March 29, 1948, just shy of its 21st birthday.
UPLOADED: 6/9/05 REVISED: 11/18/08, 09/10/11