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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.

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Boeing Model 95 NC397E


This airplane is a Boeing Model 95 (S/N 1057; ATC #106), manufactured in February 1929 by the Boeing Airplane Company, Seattle, WA.  It left the factory with a Pratt & Whitney Hornet C engine (S/N 266) of 500 HP. It was a large, single-place airplane, weighing 5,840 pounds.

NC397E was used by the Boeing Company as a demonstrator by none other than Erik Nelson. Nelson was pilot of the Douglas World Cruiser, Chicago. He and his team of other pilots and aircraft won the Mackay Trophy for the very first around-the-world flight, April 6th to September 28, 1924.  After resigning from the military, Nelson joined Boeing as a corporate officer.

After a flight test by L.R. Tower, the airplane was ferried south to Oakland, CA and “south” on March 2, 1929 by Nelson. Below, from the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr stream (SDAM), is a photograph of NC397E (lower airplane) flying in formation with another Boeing, NC381. We know from the Flickr stream that the pilot of the upper airplane is Mike Doolin.

NC397E in Formation With NC381 (Source: SDAM)
NC397E in Formation With NC381 (Source: SDAM)

NC397E landed at Tucson three times, on March 4th, March 19th and March 28, 1929.  Each time it was flown by Erik Nelson.  On the 4th he was southeast bound from Phoenix, AZ to San Antonio, TX. This was undoubtedly a continuation of his flight to Oakland begun on March 2nd. On the 19th, he was westbound from El Paso, TX to Yuma, AZ.  And on the 28th he was eastbound from Los Angeles, CA to El Paso.

Hamilton Evening Journal (OH), May 25, 1931 (Source:
Hamilton Evening Journal (OH), May 25, 1931 (Source:


The airplane was returned to the factory on July 10, 1929 and modified to a two-person airplane with Hornet C engine S/N 505 installed. It was changed to “NR” registration.  Continuing as a Boeing demonstrator, it was ferried “south” again by pilot B.F. Thompson on August 24, 1929.

It acquired the name “Boeing-Hornet Shuttle” about this time, and was used in September 1929 by USAAC pilot Capt. Ira C. Eaker for endurance and refueling flights.  Unfortunately, the airplane was wrecked in a storm and returned to the factory on September 20, 1929 to be rebuilt as a single-person airplane.  There was no injury to the crew from the wreck. It is not clear from the record if the “NC” registration was returned to the airplane after the rebuild. Note in the photograph above that NC397E is a single-cockpit airplane. We can deduce the photograph was taken either before July 10, 1929, or after September 20, 1929.

On October 16, 1929, 397E was transferred to Boeing Air Transport Corp. of Seattle, WA. There is no record of what the airplane was used for over the next year or so.  It sold on June 13, 1930 to National Air Transport, Inc. of Chicago, IL and assigned N.A.T. #85.

On May 24, 1931, during a run of C.A.M. 17 between Newark, NJ and Chicago, IL, the “Shuttle” struck a mountain (Nittany Ridge) near Bellefonte, PA. Pilot James D. Cleveland (not a Register signer) was killed. The airplane, “struck big Nittany Mtn. & [was] completely destroyed by fire.” The accident was reported in the Hamilton Evening Journal (OH), May 25, 1931, left.


UPLOADED: 03/28/06 REVISED: 10/13/07, 03/22/14, 07/28/17

The Register
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