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Some of 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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Registration Number NC5553

An Entrant in the Ford Reliability Tour of 1928

This aircraft is a Ryan B-1 Brougham, S/N 118 (ATC 25). It shares lineage with the “Spirit of St. Louis,” but was built during the following year. The B.F. Mahoney Aircraft Co., San Diego, CA manufactured it on June 16, 1928. It was equipped with a 220 HP Wright J-5AB Whirlwind engine, S/N 8496. It weighed 3,300 pounds.

NC5553 was sold on June 20, 1928 to Ryan Distributor Mutual Aircraft Corporation of Los Angeles. While in Mutual’s possession, the airplane was entered in the 1928 Ford Reliability Tour, scheduled for the next month. They chose as their pilot Vance Breese. The airplane was assigned tour #16.

The 1928 tour passed through Tucson (review this link for additional tour information). It was during the tour, on July 10, 1928, that the airplane touched down amid the flurry of other tour participants that landed late in the morning (look near the bottom of this Register page to get a feel for the excitement that morning). Breese was accompanied by passengers Larry Gunther and J.T. Hurst. They completed the tour, and at the finish line they placed 9th.

That winter, on December 28, 1928, with 205.5 flight hours, the airplane sold to Charles W. Seaton of Riverside, CA. He flew NC5553 over five hundred hours and maintained it for a few years, installing new control cables, repairing the fuselage and re-covering the fuselage and tail surfaces as of May 31, 1932 (765.5 flight hours). Below, courtesy of C.W. Seaton's son, is a photograph of the NC5553. Mr. Seaton says about his father's photo, it, "... was used to promote sightseeing tours of the desert area."  And that, "The picture is a composite (cut-out) - I'm told the airplane was taken at Riverside, and pasted on a background photo at the Palm Springs airport." Thus we have an early "PhotoShopped" image.

Ryan NC5553 on the Ground at Riverside/Palm Springs, Ca. 1929 (Source: Seaton)
Ryan NC5553 on the Ground at Riverside/Palm Springs, 1929 (Source: Seaton)

"Stevens Desert Airway, Palm Springs, Calif." is painted on the side of the fuselage, and "Bill Seaton" is painted on the cabin door, partially covered by the wing struts. There is a person in the cockpit dressed in cap and tie, but it is difficult to tell if it is C.W. Seaton.

On December 6, 1932 NC5553 was involved in an accident in Chiapas, Mexico and “washed out”. There was no official record at the Smithsonian of who the pilot/passengers were, or if they survived. However, Mr. Seaton states, "My father spoke little of this airplane, probably because of the grief of its loss.  He only said he had 'loaned' the airplane to a couple of friends, who were killed in the crash in Mexico." The registration was cancelled January 24, 1933.


UPLOADED: 6/27/05 REVISED: 07/24/12

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.

---o0o--- Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of 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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