LOCKHEED VEGA Air Express 3 NC522K
OWNED AND FLOWN BY SOME STARS OF THE ERA, THEN ABANDONED
FOR GOOD REASON
This airplane is a Lockheed Vega Air Express 3 (S/N 92;
ATC #102) manufactured during August 27, 1929 by Lockheed
Aircraft Corporation, Burbank,
CA. It left the factory
with a Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine (S/N 2256) of 450
HP. It was a five- or seven-place airplane, weighing
4,375 pounds. It was painted white with red and blue
We find NC522K landing at Tucson on March 30, 1930 flown
by Wiley Post. He carried as passenger Jerry
who was a primary designer of the Vega model at Lockheed. Based
in Burbank, CA, they were eastbound from Burbank to El Paso,
NC522K was sold on November 3, 1930 to Reginald L. Brooks,
New York, NY. Brooks sold it on January 22, 1932 to
Edmond Guggenheim of New York, who, a week later, sold it
to Marron Price Guggenheim on February 1, 1932. There
is nothing in the NASM record of what the Guggenheims did
with the airplane.
Next, on October 14, 1932, the airplane sold to Dr. Daniel
A Poling of New York. The airplane was flown for Poling
by Russell W. Thaw (who had also been the pilot for the Guggenheims). It
was named “Raymond Robins” in honor of Poling’s
associate in the Allied Forces for Prohibition movement.
Poling and Thaw made an extensive campaign tour for the
candidacy of President Herbert Hoover in 1932. It
suffered minor damage when the airplane taxied into a hole
at Helena, MT. We are fairly certain that the pilot
was not drinking!
Below, a signed photo of Register pilot Hugh Herndon, Jr. in the cockpit of 522K. The cockpit geometry and the nature of the "parasol" wing of this Vega model are clearly shown. The Cities Service logo on the fuselage dates this photograph sometime between February 16 and April 27, 1934 (see below).
Lockheed Vega Air Express NC522K, Hugh Herndon in Cockpit (Source: Copeland)
Below, another photograph of Herndon with the airplane, probably taken during the same time frame. It is unknown what the person head-down in the cockpit is doing on this blustery day.
Lockheed Vega Air Express NC522K, Hugh Herndon in Front (Source: Russell)
On February 16, 1934 the airplane was sold to Swiflight
Aircraft Corporation, Jersey City, NJ. Swiflight was
associated with Cities Service Oil Company. A couple
of months later, on April 27, 1934, the airplane was demolished
near Palmetto, GA. Pilot Hugh Herndon and mechanic
Ed Sherman left the airplane via parachute after they ran
into bad weather. Hugh Herndon, Jr. signed our Register
on December 6, 1929. Herndon was a New York socialite, who,
with Clyde Pangborn, was first to fly a plane across the
Pacific Ocean nonstop, October 3, 1931.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 06/02/06 REVISED: 02/20/09, 03/03/10