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There is no data for NC4835 in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), 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.


http://www.cafepress.com/content/global/img/spacer.gifThe Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of www.dmairfield.org 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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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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TRAVEL AIR 4000 NC4835

Travel Air 4000 NC4835, S/N 419, landed once at Tucson, Monday, April 30, 1928 at 8:15AM. It was flown by Dr. J. Bert Saxby, carrying as passenger Tod Oviatt. Based at Santa Barbara, CA, they were westbound from El Paso, TX back to Santa Barbara. They must have gotten an early start at El Paso. We know NC4835 was also flown by Register pilot Roxy Ruckstell, but he didn't land with it at Tucson. Saxby was the second owner of the airplane, after Ken Maynard, below.

Ken Maynard Poses with NC4835, Date Unknown (Source: Webmaster)
Ken Maynard Poses with NC4835, Date Unknown (Source: Webmaster)




It was owned first by movie cowboy Ken Maynard (1895-1973), who poses with it in the next three photographs. At left, Maynard personalizes the airplane in his annotation as "my pal." Note his spectator shoes. If you have photographs or information, please let me KNOW.

Maynard was a stunt man, actor and musician whose career spanned from the 1920s to the mid-1940s. He starred in 90-some films. Maynard's gravemarker and a short biography are at the link.

Maynard was not the only movie cowboy of the era to fly airplanes relevant to the Register. "Hoot" Gibson also owned and flew aircraft, and hung out with Register pilot Jim Granger. Granger and he flew the Black Hawk NC730K owned by Gibson.



Next, probably from the same photo shoot (notice his shoes and the shadows of the airplane), Maynard poses solo with NC4835.

Ken Maynard Poses with NC4835, Date Unknown (Source: Webmaster)
Ken Maynard Poses with NC4835, Date Unknown (Source: Webmaster)

Finally, below, Maynard poses in costume with his white stallion, "Tarzan," his other "pal," in front of NC4835.

Ken Maynard and "Tarzan" With NC4835, Date Unknown (Source: Webmaster)
Ken Maynard and "Tarzan" With NC4835, Date Unknown (Source: Webmaster)

I know very little else about the chain of custody of NC4835 and whether there were other owners before or after this next one.

NC4835 is pictured at the link and below ca. 1930, after it was transported to Japan. This link is interesting, because it leads to an entire album containing high-quality photographs of aircraft in Japan. It is worth exploring. Notice the spinner has been removed from the propeller. Note also the registration has been changed to "NR" -- restricted -- probably because the front passenger cockpit was covered over for the voyage to Japan.

NC/NR4835 in Japanese Livery, Date Unknown (Source: Web)
NC/NR4835 in Japanese Livery, Date Unknown (Source: Web)

It did fly to Japan under the control of (at least) third owner Zensaku Azuma (1893-1967). He flew from California to New York, shipped the airplane by boat to Europe, then continued eastward to Japan. Friend of dmairfield.org, John Underwood, states, "He shipped it to Europe and made a leisurely trip home to Japan in 1931 while his wife ran his little Pasadena restaurant in his absence." Regarding pilot Azuma, Mr. Underwood states, "Azuma returned to Japan and his status remains a mystery....  Azuma was something of a persona non grata and nothing is known of his life after that."

Friend of Delta Mike Airfield, Inc., Russ Plehinger, tabulates the results of Azuma's flight, below left, as follows. Below, right, a news article from The New York Times of June 5, 1930, published about two weeks before Azuma's departure.

June 22-August 31, 1930.
Round-the-world flight (from Los Angeles, California).
12,500 miles.
42 days.
Zensaku Azuma.
Travel Air 4000 City of Tokyo/NR-4835.
220hp Wright J-5 Whirlwind.
Route----Los Angeles-New York-London-Paris-Berlin-Moscow-Tokyo.  Atlantic ocean crossed by ship.

The New York Times, June 5, 1930 (Source: NYT)
The New York Times, June 5, 1930 (Source: NYT)






From the article we learn that Azuma based his airplane at Los Angeles Metropolitan airport, and that it was modified with extra fuel tankage (which also contributed to the restricted registration).

Another article in the Times of July 3, 1930 captures Azuma in New Jersey at the end of the U.S. leg of his trip. He attended the welcome home at Teterboro Airport of Register pilot Bernt Balchen, who recently had been part of the Byrd Antarctic expedition. The article states, "Zensaku Azuma, a Japanese aviator who is on a trip around the world, paid a brief tribute to Balchen and his companions whose adventures, he said, had been followed with interest and admiration in the island kingdom."

At another checkpoint, the British aviation journal Flight of August 1, 1930 documented Azuma's arrival and preparations in England as follows, "Mr. Zensaku Azuma, a Japanese pilot, who has been flying since 1922, came to England from Pasadena, California, with the object of flying by easy stages to Tokio. He brought with him a Travel Air biplane, fitted with a Wright 'Whirlwind' engine, which was erected and tuned up for him at Hanworth by National Flying Services, Ltd. Mr. Azuma started from Hanworth for Japan on July 27."

Later, in Japan, the Travel Air wound up in the hands of the Japanese Army. The military had no use for it and sold into the corporate world. It was registered J-BAOJ and flown as a news courier in Japanese-occupied China and Korea. It crashed near Pusan ca. 1932 and was not repaired.

Postscript To envision, plan and execute a round-the-world flight of the magnitude of Azuma's is a facet of personality shared by a number of our Register pilots (see, for example, Friedrich Karl Freiherr Baron von Koenig-Warthausen, and, of course, Wiley Post. But see also Howard Hughes). Azuma, a signer of the Clover Field Register, went on to manifest his personality in other pursuits after his 1930 flight.

At some point, Azuma returned to Japan permanently and became a post-WWII advocate for nuclear power. The Japan Times of July 17, 2011 reported on the history of nuclear energy use in Japan after the 2011 tsunami that compromised the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. Azuma was featured in the article, and was called, "...'Japan's Charles Lindbergh,' a flamboyant pilot who encouraged people to search for uranium in their backyards."

Zensaku Azuma in NR4835, Ca. 1930 (Source: Web)
Zensaku Azuma in NR4835, Ca. 1930 (Source: Web)


Further, the article states, "... it was the activities of Zensaku Azuma, a flamboyant and popular aviator who in 1930 flew solo across the U.S., Europe and Asia, that grabbed media headlines.

"In 1955, Azuma discovered natural uranium deposits in the soil on the border of Tottori and Okayama prefectures, and his discovery led others to buy Geiger counters and try their luck.

"Azuma encouraged people to make uranium part of their lifestyles, saying it was healthy. He grew 'uranium' vegetables in soil with traces of uranium and soon other 'uranium entrepreneurs' followed."

Given that Japan was only a decade away from their experiences with the first uses of atomic weapons in warfare, Azuma's encouragement is an incongruous juxtaposition.

Nonetheless, at Kahoku in Japan there is a monument at the birthplace of Zensaku Azuma. The city hosts a paper airplane contest and a rice porridge festival every year. Photograph of Azuma and NR4835, left, found at the link advertising and celebrating the city of Kahoku.


THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 04/02/12 REVISED: 09/24/16

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