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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, 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, while supplies last.

---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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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.


Military Aircraft of the Davis Monthan Register, 1925-1936 is available at the link. This book describes and illustrates with black & white photographs the majority of military aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield between 1925 and 1936. The book includes biographies of some of the pilots who flew the aircraft to Tucson as well as extensive listings of all the pilots and airplanes. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author, while supplies last.


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FORD 4-AT-B NC7117

FORD 4-AT-B NC7117


This airplane is a Ford 4-AT-B tri-motor (S/N 4-AT-31; ATC # 87) manufactured August 11, 1928 by the Stout Metal Airplane Company (Division of Ford Motor Company), Dearborn, MI.  It came from the factory with three Wright J-5 engines (S/Ns L 9056, R 9025, C 9047) of 220 HP each.  It was a twelve-place airplane.

It sold on August 17, 1928 to Maddux Air Lines, Inc., Los Angeles, CA.  It was modified in December 1930 by Maddux to a Model 4-AT-E under ATC 132, with Wright J-6 engines.  It flew with Maddux as Fleet #5. Maddux sold it to Transcontinental & Western Air, Inc., New York, NY on April 21, 1931 as a result of the merger with T.W.A.

NC7117 landed twice at Tucson, on August 20, 1928 and on March 7, 1929.   On August 20th, it was flown by Larry G. Fritz, Chief Pilot at the time for Maddux.  He flew a plane full of ten passengers, including copilot C.H. Madley.  Here, for Google posterity, we’ll list the brave passengers’ names: Dr. & Mrs. Matthews, Jean Thomas, Mr. & Mrs. Henry Van Nactor, N. Hussman and Master Hussman, D. Waller, and Mr. Bacon. 

They were westbound from Detroit, MI to Los Angeles, CA in what was undoubtedly the maiden voyage of this fresh, newly purchased (three days previously) airplane from the Ford factory to its new home on the west coast.  Fritz noted in the Remarks column of the Register, “Good Service”.  For a similar scenario, see the sister ship of this airplane at NC7118.

The flight on March 7, 1929 was piloted by D.W. “Tommy” Tomlinson.  Later, Tomlinson was the first pilot of the Douglas DC-1.  He, Jack Frye and Charles Lindbergh developed the specifications for Douglas to work toward in building that watershed early transport.  He carried six unidentified passengers westbound from El Paso, TX to Los Angeles.  Someone noted in the Remarks column of the Register, "from Mexico City."

Between December 21, 1930 and May 11, 1931, NC7117 landed at least nine times at the Grand Central Air Terminal (GCAT), Glendale, CA. The tower operator identified the owner as"T. W. A. Incorporated."

Interestingly, the airplane sold next on April 10, 1933 to Blue Bird Air Transport, Inc., Chicago, IL.  It was approved for “NR” registration on 9/9/33, “for aerobatics in connection with American Air Races Tour”.   I could find no record of its use for this purpose.  Does anyone know if or how it was used in the 1933 National Air Races tour?

During the Great Depression, NC7117 changed hands seven more times; five times in 1928 alone.  On March 1, 1939 it was sold to Tex-O-Can Flour Mills Co., Dallas, TX.  It, “was used with sound equipment & smoke writer tanks”.

Through the early 1940s it changed hands another six times.  On March 18, 1944 it was sold to broker Charles H. Babb, New York, NY.  He sold it the same day to Espresso Aereo Inter-Americana, Havana, Cuba.  The final disposition states, “Exported to Cuba in 1944 and assigned Cuban Reg. IM-5”.  No further information.


UPLOADED: 04/01/06 REVISED: 01/08/14

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.


Art Goebel's Own Story by Art Goebel (edited by G.W. Hyatt) is written in language that expands for us his life as a Golden Age aviation entrepreneur, who used his aviation exploits to build a business around his passion.  Available as a free download at the link.


Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race is available at the link. What was it like to fly from Oakland to Honolulu in a single-engine plane during August 1927? Was the 25,000 dollar prize worth it? Did the resulting fame balance the risk? For the first time ever, this book presents the pilot and navigator's stories written by them within days of their record-setting adventure. Pilot Art Goebel and navigator William V. Davis, Jr. take us with them on the Woolaroc, their orange and blue Travel Air monoplane (NX869) as they enter the hazardous world of Golden Age trans-oceanic air racing.


Clover Field: The First Century of Aviation in the Golden State. With the 100th anniversary in 2017 of the use of Clover Field as a place to land aircraft in Santa Monica, this book celebrates that use by exploring some of the people and aircraft that made the airport great.


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