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A copy of the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register with cross-references to pilots and airplanes is available here.


The top image comes to us courtesy of the Klein Archive of Aviation Photographs available for view on this website.

The bottom image comes to us courtesy of Colleen Apte. Thanks to Colleen for sharing this image from her grandfather's photo album.


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Ryan B-1 NC5217, below, landed at Tucson twice on September 11, 1928 (westbound El Paso, TX to Yuma, AZ) and September 21, 1928 (eastbound Los Angeles, CA to El Paso). The annotation with the original photograph reads, "Ryan B-1, Wright J-5-9  220 HP, NC5217  c/n 105  October 1928, D. Roy Bradford’s of New Castle". As can be seen on the side of the fuselage, Mr. Bradford was manager of New Castle Aircraft, Inc.

Both visits to Tucson it was flown by New Castle's pilot, Raymond J. Merritt. He carried eastbound as passenger D. Roy Bradford. They identified their home base as New Castle, PA. The image below was taken within a month after they landed at Tucson.

D. Roy Bradford With Ryan B-1 NC5217 (Source: Klein Archive)
Ryan B-1 NC5217

Their passing through Tucson was with purpose. They were competing in the 1928 National Air Races (NAR) Class "B" Transcontinental race from New York to Los Angeles. Merritt placed 12th in the race with an elapsed time of 33:59:32, about 11 hours behind the winner, the superlative John Livingston.

Below is another photograph of NC5217 courtesy of Colleen Apte (left sidebar). Ms. Apte estimates the date of the photograph as after, "...May 1928 and before October 1929."

Ryan B-1 NC5217, Ca. 1928-29, Probably Kansas City, MO (Source: Apte)

The people in the photograph are unidentified. If you can help identify them, please let me KNOW. Note that NC5217 still has the New Castle Aircraft, Inc. sign on the fuselage. I could be that one of the people is pilot Raymond J. Merritt. And it could be that this was a scheduled stop in Kansas City while Merritt and Bradford were going to or from the NAR.


UPLOADED: 09/28/07 REVISED: 11/06/07, 07/24/14

The Register
I'm looking for information about this airplane, as well as about pilot Merritt and passenger Bradford, to include on this page. If you have any you'd like to share, please use this FORM to contact me.
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