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Ruth Nichols wrote an autobiographical book in 1957 titled, "Wings for Life"(J.B. Lippincott, NY).

The information to develop the Aviation Country Clubs Tour itinerary map is derived from that book.


Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register
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Touring Plane

This airplane is a Curtiss-Robertson Robin, Model C, S/N 184 (ATC# 69) manufactured during February 1929 by the Curtiss-Robertson Airplane Manufacturing Company, Anglum, MO.  It left the factory with a Challenger engine of 170 HP, S/N 34.  It was a three-place airplane, weighing 2,440 pounds.  It sold the same month to the Curtiss Flying Service, Inc., Garden City, NY.

NC386E landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield on May 6, 1929 flown by Robb C. Oertel.  He carried a single passenger, C.O. Bedford.  He was in a flight of three, along with Ruth Nichols in her Curtiss Fledgling NC5404, and Charles M. Taylor in his Command-Aire, number 609 (no indication of NC, NX, or NR).

The three pilots were participating in a national Aviation Country Clubs Tour that spring.  Follow the Nichols link for a tour map.  They arrived at Tucson at 3:05 PM, stayed overnight, and departed for Yuma as a group at 8:30 the next morning.

As an interesting digression, I present for your amusement the image, below, of a fuel receipt from Albany, NY.  Notice the aircraft numbers. It is not clear if the “tour” referred to on the receipt is the present one (and this is a delayed payment transaction), or if Oertel and Nichols were participating in another tour that fall.  Regardless, the pilots among you will appreciate the low cost of gasoline.  Aviation gasoline is selling for $3.50-$4.50 per gallon at the upload date at the bottom of this page.

1929 Fuel Receipt

Our airplane was to have a brief history.  NC386E suffered an accident at Garden City, NY on December 24, 1929, Christmas Eve.  The airplane stalled at an altitude insufficient to recover, and dived into the ground.  The student pilot, Allen N. Van Hagen of Brooklyn, NY and one passenger, Otto A. Kafka, suffered no injuries.  The airplane was a “washout”, with the engine being only partly salvaged.  The registration was cancelled January 16, 1930.



The Register
I'm looking for photographs of this airplane to include on this page. If you have one or more you'd like to share, please use this FORM to contact me.
The fuel receipt shown on this page is from the Ruth Nichols files of the International Women's Air & Space Museum, Inc., 165 Burke Lakefront Airport, 1501 North Marginal Rd. , Cleveland, OH 44114. Staff member Cris Takacs was especially helpful.
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