View products that support


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.


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

Davis-Monthan Aviation Field Register
CulturalMotion PicturesFriendsNon Profit statusProducts and services
ReferencesPublicationsCollectionsGuest EditorsPress Coverage

FORD 4-AT-B NC5493

FORD 4-AT-B NC5493


This airplane is a Ford 4-AT-B tri-motor (S/N 4-AT-22; ATC # 87) manufactured May 23, 1928 by the Stout Metal Airplane Company (Ford Motor Company), Dearborn, MI.  It came from the factory with three Wright J-5C engines (S/Ns L 8446, R 8445, C 8965) of 220 HP each.  It was a twelve-place airplane, weighing 10,130 pounds.

It sold on June 4, 1928 to Scenic Airways, Inc., Grand Canyon, AZ.  Register pilot J. Parker Van Zandt was founder of that company.  It operated with Scenic until November 8, 1929, when it was sold off as a response to the market crash of the previous month.  It sold to R. “Reg” L. Robbins of Ft. Worth, TX to be used for barnstorming.

Below, from the fNew Mexico Digital Collections (NMDC), of the Albuquerque Museum Photo Archives, is a photograph of NC5493 from 1928. Note the airplane being fueled from a five-gallon can by the serviceman on the top of the wing. The logo on the fuselage is the old-style Scenic Airways logo: small rainbow in a shield.

Ford NC5493 at Albuquerque, NM, 1928 (Source: NMDC)
Ford NC5493 at Albuquerque, NM, 1928 (Source: NMDC)

Our airplane landed at Tucson once, on March 12, 1929, probably in Scenic Airways livery.  It was flown by P.D. Lucas carrying four passengers.  They were northwest bound from El Paso, TX.  They stayed overnight in Tucson, heading out the next morning at 8:30 to Phoenix, AZ

Below, two images of NC5493 in service to Scenic Airways. Dates and locations of the images are unknown, but the newer Scenic Airways paint scheme is on the fuselage: a broad rainbow.

FORD 4-AT-B NC5493 On the Ground With Service Vehicles & Onlookers
FORD 4-AT-B NC5493


FORD 4-AT-B NC5493

Over the next six years the airplane changed hands three times. Probably the most interesting transfer was on November 8, 1929 to R.L. Robbins of Ft. Worth, TX. It was registered "NR" during July 1931 and used for an air-to-air refueling craft for a trans-Pacific non-stop record. Robbins' refueled airplane was to be Lockheed Vega NR7429. Please follow the links to learn the outcome of the record attempt.

After the refueling work it moved from Texas to Missouri to Illinois in the hands of Vernelle Irwin of Hallsville, IL.  In March 1937 Irwin had airwheels and aerol struts installed on NC5493 that came from the wreck of NC7863 owned by Vernon Johns.

It sold three more times, moving from Illinois to New York with Atlantic Airmotive Corp. in Mineola, LI (Roosevelt Field) on November 1, 1940.  It suffered an accident at West Orange, NJ on June 10, 1942.  The, “plane entered power dive from which it failed to recover.  Pilot Richard A. Behrens killed.”  The airplane was totally destroyed by fire after the accident.


UPLOADED: 03/29/06 REVISED: 12/21/07, 03/11/08, 11/05/13

The Register
I'm looking for additional 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.
Images, left, courtesy of the Navajo County Historical Society.
Contact Us | Credits | Copyright © 2008 Delta Mike Airfield, Inc.
This website is best enjoyed in a 1024 x 768 screen resolution.
Web design by The Web Professional, Inc