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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 (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.


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This is an example of where, sure, the airplane is important, but it's the pilot that outshines everything else. NC549K landed at Tucson three times during 1932-33, each time flown solo by Robert N. Buck. Please follow his link for information about this Davis-Monthan pilot who was to become one of the stars of the trade, as well as an articulate author of books that capture the essence of what it's like to fly through most of the 20th century.

NC549K (S/N 49) is a Pitcairn model PA-6 "Mailwing". It was manufactured August 10,1929 as a three-place, single-engine biplane with a Wright 220HP engine (although not mentioned in the NASM record, the engine was a J-5). According to the NASM data sheet, it sold initially to the Long Island Flying Corp., Sayville, NY. The NASM record is practically non-existent for the airplane, the preceeding being all there is on the data card.

Image, below, is of the company order sheet for the first owner's purchase of his PA-6. Thanks to David Pitcairn for sharing this historic document with us directly from the Pitcairn corporate archives. Note the discrepancy in the identification of the initial owner. Note also the colors of the aircraft as delivered from the factory on August 10, 1929.

Order Sheet, NC549K (Source: Pitcairn)
Order Sheet, NC549K

After Buck acquired it, "Yankee Clipper" was painted on the fuselage under the front cockpit in declaration of Buck's Massachusetts heritage. There is no indication on this sales sheet or the NASM data card of when Buck purchased NC549K.

Buck's three landings at Tucson were on Sunday August 14, 1932 westbound from El Paso, TX to Los Angeles, CA, a week later on Monday August 22nd, and finally a little over a year later on Sunday October 8, 1933. This final flight originated in Phoenix, AZ, but he did not state a destination. His landings in 1932 were related to a record attempt to Mexico City. Please follow the link to Buck's biography page, above, to learn about this, as well as his Junior Transcontinental Speed Record that he set in 1930. Also at his page is is a very nice profile photograph of NC549K.

Additional images of the airplane on the ground and in the air are in the photo section of Buck's book North Star Over My Shoulder.


Update of 07/26/10 Below, an image of Bob Buck with his parents in the front cockpit of his Pitcairn, NC549K. This photograph is shared with us by friend of, Tim Kalina. You can make out the beginning of "YANKEE CLIPPER" painted on the fuselage under the front cockpit. He also plugged the Sky Scouts of America.

Robert Buck in NC549K Carrying His Parents, September 4, 1931 (Source: Kalina)
Robert Buck in NC549K Carrying His Parents, September 4, 1931 (Source: Kalina)

Below, the caption on the back of the photograph above.

Caption, Robert Buck in NC549K Carrying His Parents, September 4, 1931 (Source: Kalina)
Caption, Robert Buck in NC549K Carrying His Parents, September 4, 1931 (Source: Kalina)

Below, from David Pitcairn, a total profile of NC549K, which clearly shows the fuselage markings.

NC549K, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Pitcairn)
NC549K, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Pitcairn)

Mr. Pitcairn cites pilot Buck's1931 book, "Burning up the Sky", wherein he writes, "I have been thinking and talking to my friends about establishing an organization that would teach juniors what they want to know; how to fly if they so desire; and the art of gliding as well.... I was considering this plan one day, and was wondering whether this instruction might not be carried out, perhaps at camps, when the telephone rang and Mr. Palmer Davidson, Aviation Editor of the Newark Star Eagle, asked me  to have luncheon with him.  We met, and to my surprise Mr. Davidson had the same idea in mind.  We got together and formed what we think will be one of the big aviation organizations of the future, to be called the 'Sky Scouts of America.' .... This organization is in no way a commercial thing.  Our object is to teach the young people about aviation.... Instead of troop organizations we will have hangars."


Dossier 3.1.29

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 01/18/08 REVISED: 10/05/09, 07/26/10, 08/18/10, 09/30/10

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.
Thanks to David Pitcairn and Tim Kalina for the photographs on this page.
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