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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.


Your copy of the "Davis-Monthan Airfield Register" with all the pilots' signatures and helpful cross-references to pilots and their aircraft is available at the link. Or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-0-1.


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Fokker Super Universal NC4453


This aircraft was a Fokker Super Universal, S/N U-801 (ATC # unassigned), manufactured in February 1928 by the Atlantic Aircraft Corporation, Teterboro Airport, Hasbrouck Heights, NJ.  It left the factory with a Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine, S/N 248.  It weighed 4,000 pounds.

The NASM record does not list a first sale for NC4453.  However it probably went to the east coast somewhere, because the homebase was cited as New York, NY in the Register.

NC4453 landed once at Tucson on July 8, 1928 flown by Jack Frye.  He carried three passengers identified as G.E. Haynes, E. Hitchman and George E. Conklin.  They were southbound from Phoenix to Nogales, AZ.  Frye noted in the Remarks column of the Register, “HOT”.

This airplane had a cantilever wing.  It was a “one-only” aircraft that did not conform to ATC #52.  It was sent to the Antarctic with the Byrd expedition (date not specified, but it was 1928).  It was named "The Virginia", and flown by Bernt Balchen (see Balchen with another Fokker, NX4204, the "Josephine Ford"). All totaled, three of Byrd's arctic exploration aircraft landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield and are cited in the Register. They are the "Josephine Ford", the "Stars & Stripes", NC8006, and "The Virginia," NC4453. Below, from the Smithsonian and shared with us by site visitor Jean-Pierre DuPont, is a view of NC4453 after it was painted in Byrd's livery and christened "The Virginia," but before it was transported to Antarctica and had skis installed.

Fokker Super Universal NC4453, "The Virginia," Ca. 1928-29 (Source: NASM via DuPont)
Fokker Super Universal NC4453, "The Virginia," Ca. 1928-29 (Source: NASM)

This is an interesting photograph because of the people assembled. There are at least three Navy personnel, on in dress whites at the front of the airplane. I doesn't look like Byrd. There are also two people dressed as cowboys: the man under the propeller and a young boy with his back to the camera, replete with chaps and a six-gun on his right hip.

Next, we find the airplane in Antarctica, below. The person is unidentified and appears to be holding a sack in his left hand and a white cylinder in his right. There appears to be a camera at his feet. Another person stands off camera, left, with only his gloved hand and shovel visible. The airplane is submerged in snow up to the bottom of the fuselage.

Fokker Super Universal NC4453 in Antarctica, Ca. 1928-29 (Source: NASM via DuPont)
Fokker Super Universal NC4453 in Antarctica, Ca. 1928-29 (Source: NASM)

Below, from Wikipedia Commons via the Library of Congress, is a photograph of NC4453 in Antarctica. Notice the horizontal stabilizer has been removed from the airplane, and the elevator lies in the foreground.

Fokker Super Universal NC4453 in Antarctica, Ca. 1928-29 (Source: Wiki Commons via DuPont)
Fokker Super Universal NC4453 in Antarctica, Ca. 1928-29 (Source: Wiki Commons)

The description of the photo at Wiki is as follows, "A Fokker 'Super Universal' aircraft (NC 4453, "The Virginia") of the Byrd Antarctic Expedition at the 'Little America' base camp. Pioneer Bernt Balchen is kneeling in front of the plane with a sled dog. On 7 March 1929 Bernt Balchen, Lt. Harold June, and geologist Laurence McKinley Gould landed with this aircraft near the Rockefeller Mountains to conduct a geological survey. However, during the evening of 14 March a huge gust of wind ripped the plane from its moorings and blew it for 700 m before it crashed on the ice. The crew was rescued a few days later."

The NASM record corroborates this discription, stating NC4453 was destroyed in Antarctica by a storm ca. early March, 1929. You can see images here of what the airplane looked like in service with Byrd, and the remains of it as it rests today in Antarctica. Another image taken after the storm is here.

By April 17, 1929 NC4453 was reported as “totally damaged.”

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 07/07/06 REVISED: 07/17/06, 04/21/10, 03/27/12, 09/30/12

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.

---o0o--- Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of and the 10th year of effort on the project dedicated to analyze and exhibit the history embodied in the Register of the Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ. This book includes over thirty people, aircraft and events that swirled through Tucson between 1925 and 1936. It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders. Order your copy at the link, or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author.  ISBN 978-0-9843074-4-9.


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