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
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)
"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