LOCKHEED VEGA Model 1 NC31E
FLOWN BY TWO MOST FAMOUS
This airplane is a Lockheed Vega Model 1
(S/N 36; ATC #49) manufactured in January 1929 by Lockheed
Aircraft Corporation, Burbank,
CA. It left the factory with a Wright Whirlwind
engine (S/N B9314) of 220 HP. It was a five-place airplane,
painted red and cream.
NC31E was a Lockheed Corporation demonstrator during early
1929. It sold on September 16, 1929 (actual bill of
sale 1/15/30) to Amelia Earhart, New York, NY. Earhart
exchanged for NC31E her other Lockheed Vega, NC6911.
She then flew NC31E to third place in the Women’s
Air Derby, Santa Monica, CA to Cleveland, OH in August 1929. She
won $875 for her effort. After the race, Earhart turned
NC31E in to the Lockheed Corporation for yet another Vega,
NC7952, perhaps the most famous of the Vegas she owned.
During the time the airplane was owned by Lockheed, NC31E
landed twice at Tucson, on March 19th and on March 28, 1930. Both
times it was piloted by Wiley
Post. On the 19th he
carried two unidentified passengers. They were eastbound
from Burbank to Oklahoma City, OK. On the 28th, he
carried one unidentified passenger. They were westbound
from El Paso, TX to Los Angeles, CA. No reason was
given, either in the Register or the NASM record, for their
Lockheed Vega NC31E, Ca. 1939 (Source: St. Louis University)
Lockheed sold NC31E to Parks Air College, East St. Louis,
IL on May 24, 1930. It was used by the school for instruction
and charter. A half-cowl speed ring was installed on
the engine. An undated photograph of NC31E is at the link. That photo is reproduced at left in smaller format.
NC31E flew with the Parks school for seven years. A photograph from November, 1932 of the airplane on the ground at Parks Air College is just below. It wears the Parks logo on the fuselage.
Lockheed Vega NC31E, November 14, 1932, Parks Air College (Source: Web)
March 8, 1934 it suffered an accident at East St. Louis at
the hands of pilot George J. Gruen. The right wing,
aileron and shock absorbers were repaired. There was no report on injuries or lack thereof to pilot
During the time it was owned by Parks, Charles
H. Babb of
Glendale, CA was trying to sell this aircraft to a buyer
in Australia, intending to complete the sale via Canada, due to U.K.
restrictions on imported aircraft. The deal was not
The airplane then moved west. First it was sold to
the St. Louis Flying Service, St. Louis, MO on June 26, 1937. They
then sold it on August 13, 1937 to Mountain Flying Service,
Denver, CO. The file on NC31E was closed by the CAA
on November 1, 1938. There was no explanation for the
closure. Does anyone KNOW the fate of this airplane? No further information.
UPLOADED: 04/15/06 REVISED: 09/30/12, 08/21/16