FORD 4-AT-B NC7863
This airplane is a Ford 4-AT-B tri-motor (S/N 4-AT-48; ATC
# 87) manufactured October 15, 1928 by the Stout Metal Airplane
Company (Ford Motor Company), Dearborn, MI. It came
from the factory with three Wright Whirlwind J-5 engines
(S/Ns 9263, 9248, 9311) of 220 HP each.
It sold on November 28, 1928 to Reid, Murdoch and Company
of Chicago, IL. It was used as a "flyuing supermarket" for Reid, Murdoch's brand name foods (Monarch). Image, below, shared with us by site
visitor Bob Noramczyk. Thanks, Bob! Lettering on the fuselage,
just behind the cabin windows, advertises the Chicago Air
Races, which took place August 24-September 2, 1930. Image
NC7863 ca. 1930
Reid, Murdoch flew NC7863 until 1931 when it was sold to Vernon
N. Johns of Dearborn, MI. It was flown by Johns before he owned it, however, because we find him at Tucson with it on Wednesday, January 15, 1930. Based at Chicago, IL, he was carrying two unidentified passengers westbound from El Paso, TX to Los Angeles, CA.
Johns brought the airplane to Tucson again on Monday, February 17, 1930 4:30 PM. Based now in San Diego, CA, he and his two uinidentified passengers were eastbound from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, FL. They remained in Tucson overnight, departing at 7:00AM the next day. No purpose was cited for the trip, but we know where Johns rested overnight. He stayed at the Pioneer Hotel, as evidenced by his signature in a sign-in book for the pilot's lounge (on page 3). You can see the entire book at the link.
Below, another image of NC7863 taken on October 3, 1929
at a different location. In an interesting juxtaposition,
the small aircraft nestled under the left wing of the giant
trimotor is a Fleet, NC8600, which was not signed in the Register.
Its sister ships, NC8601, NC8602, NC8610, NC8617, NC8622, NC8628 and
NC8643 were, however.
NC7863, October 3, 1929
According to the Aviation Safety Network Web site, there was an accident in
Gadsden, AL on April 28, 1935 in which the airplane was “washed
out”. This is curious, because William Larkins' treatise on Ford Aircraft, p. 33, records the airplane owned and flown by at least one other owner through 1938, the Blevins Aircraft Corporation, Atlanta, GA. The NASM information cited at the top of the left sidebar states that its fuselage was salvaged in 1936 and “remains sold.” It
was Joe Musleh of Jacksonville, FL, who, on February 29,
1936, bought the remains. In March 1937 Vernelle Irwin
of Hallsville, IL bought the airwheels and aereol struts
that came from the wreck of NC7863 and installed them on
his airplane, NC5493. Funny how many of the pilots and airplanes
of the Davis-Monthan Register all interrelate. If you can resolve the discrepancy, please let me KNOW.
The image below, courtesy of friend of dmairfield.org Tim Kalina, comes from the October 1929 issue of the Air Travel magazine rotogravure section. Not only do we see a spectacularly clear image of NC7863, but the background pattern of repeating biplanes is very creative and attractive.
Ford NC7863, October 1929
The script on the fuselage regarding the Chicago Air
Races is absent. At the bottom we see what the inside of this flying supermarket looked like. Today the markup required would preclude this service. It was probably even operated at a loss in 1929, hoping for the advertising benefit.
UPLOADED: 03/29/06 REVISED: 04/25/07, 02/26/08, 12/08/16