LOCKHEED VEGA Model 1 NC7044
This airplane is a Lockheed Vega Model 1 (S/N 11; ATC #49)
manufactured July 31, 1928 by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation,
Burbank, CA. It left the factory with a Wright Whirlwind
J-5A engine (S/N 8952) of 200 HP. It was a five-place
airplane weighing 2,900 pounds.
It sold on August 1, 1928 to Maddux Airlines, Inc., Burbank,
CA for $13,500. The airplane was painted orange. Surprisingly,
during a routine check at the factory the engine broke off
almost entirely just ahead of the cockpit! It was replaced
overnight with the fuselage of Vega S/N 44, which had not
yet been assigned a registration number. And so to
Below, from the University of Southern California Digital Library (USC), a photograph of NC7044 during 1928 on the ground at Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA. Note the owner's name "Maddux..." painted on the fuselage behind the leftmost gentleman's elbow. We can deduce the photo was taken sometime between August 1 and December 31, 1928.
Lockheed Vega NC7044, Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA, 1928 (Source: USC)
If you go to the USC link, above, you'll find another photograph of NC7044 and be able to zoom in on this photograph and explore the details. For example, the Wright engine, the service truck just behind the rudder, the number "7044" on the rudder, the name of the propeller manufacturing company, and the airfield beacon barely visible in this photograph to the right of the propeller atop the mountain. Note, too, the details of dress on the five unidentified gentlemen. Knickers and argyle socks, wingtip shoes and skimmers were in vogue during the late 1920s. Can anyone identify the people? Please let me KNOW.
NC7044 landed at Tucson twice, on October 6th and October
16, 1928 flown by Larry
G. Fritz. Fritz was Chief Pilot
for Maddux. He is not among the people in the photograph above. He carried the same two passengers each
time, H.J. Mathis and N.J. Moffett. I do not know if they are in the photograph above. On October 6th they were
eastbound from Los
Angeles, CA to Cleveland, OH. On
the 16th they were westbound from El Paso, TX to Los Angeles. They
were on the ground for 30 minutes during this stop, and Fritz
noted in the Remarks column of the Register, "Quick
Maddux flew 7044 for a couple of years and sold it on March
18, 1930 to Curtiss-Wright Flying Service, Inglewood, CA. It
then sold four more times up to December 4, 1935 when it
was purchased by Loren L. Miles who was associated with Grand
Central Charter Service, Glendale, CA (see the starred note, left sidebar). The photograph, below, is of the airplane as it was owned by Miles.
Lockheed Vega NC7044, 1938, Location Unknown
NC7044 was named “Miss Patricia”, then “Miss
Patsy” while owned by Miles. "Miss Patsy" can be seen painted on the lower front cowl. A Wright Whirlwind
J-5 (S/N D9071) was installed and the airplane apparently
went into storage early in WWII. The NASM record notes Miles was
killed in action during WWII. Photo contributor Tim Kalina states, "Note that at this late date (at least for a Vega) the plane still is powered by a J-5 Whirlwind and has no NACA cowling. Note too the fat low-pressure tires (even the tailwheel appears to be fatter than normal)." Another photo of "Miss Patsy" is below, courtesy of a site visitor.
NC7044 After 1935, Location Unknown (Source: Site Visitor)
This next view of NC7044 shows it mid-takeoff with "Miss Patsy" visible on the cowling. The image is courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr Stream (SDAM).
Lockheed NC7044 Taking Off, Date & Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)
Below, another view of NC7044 at Glendale's Grand Central Air Terminal. "Miss Patsy" no longer appears on the cowl. Compare the wheels and tires to the photographs just above and below.
Lockheed Vega NC7044, GCAT, After 1935 (Source: Site Visitor)
In 1938, the airplane appeared in the film "Men With Wings," starring Fred MacMurray and Ray Milland. Below, courtesy of site visitor Mike Boss, is a front port quarter photograph of the airplane identified as "NX704" under the wing. The number was probably modified for the film.
NC7044 in "Men With Wings" Painted NX704 (Source: Boss)
Unrelated to NC7044, Mr. Boss identifies the location as Los Angeles Metropolitan Airport, ca. 1938. The tower building in the background is famous, because it appears in the 1942 movie "Casablanca" in an early scene where the French Captain Renault meets the Nazi Major Strasser who arrives as a passenger in a Fokker Super Universal. You can see a photograph of that scene by scrolling down at the link. In that scene, the building appears to be freshly painted and pyramid shaped caps have been added to the corners.The tower also appears in the final, foggy scene where Humphrey Bogart bids his famous last goodbye to Ingrid Bergman.
On August 17, 1945, NC7044 came out of storage and was purchased
by Leo Yoder of Los Angeles, CA. He had an accident
with it “sometime in 1945” and the fuselage
was damaged from engine to passenger door. It was repaired. Over
the next four years it sold three more times, moving from
the west coast to the midwest.
On May 28, 1949, NC7044 was bought by Fletcher C. Handley,
Kingfisher, OK. Handley reportedly installed a Pratt & Whitney
R-985-AN-1 from a BT-13 and used it “to draw whiskey
into the dry mid-west.” There is little record
of it over the next six years.
In 1952 it was sold for $300 to Page Aviation, Oklahoma
City, OK. The engine was removed and sold, the aircraft
stripped and destroyed. As of March 15, 1955 it was
reported “permanently retired from service”. It
had been exposed to weather (it was made of wood). No
On December 1, 2009, I learned that NC7044 is still registered with the FAA (as of Friday, August 18, 1995). It is owned by a company in Pennsylvania. More coming as I find out about it.
Site visitor Doug Beirle shared the following two photographs. His great-grandfather used the airplane. He states, "His name was John Holst and was a South Dakota senator and Funeral Home owner in Spearfish SD."
NC7044 Getting Fueled, Spearfish, SD, 1930s (Source: Beierle)
The funeral home operated a hearse visible in the background of the photo above. The fuel is being pumped from an underground fuel Bowser visible to the right of the photo. Below, another view of the airplane, probably taken on the same day.
NC7044, Spearfish, SD, 1930s (Source: Beierle)
The hearse is backed up to the idling airplane, suggesting a body was either unloaded or loaded on board. The fuel bowser was closed. Notice the difference in the wheels on the airplane compared to the photographs above.
UPLOADED: 04/10/06 REVISED: 12/01/08, 12/04/09, 08/20/13, 08/20/13, 02/25/14, 12/05/14, 12/11/17