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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, 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.

---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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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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This airplane is a Great Lakes Model 2T1, S/N 10 manufactured during 1929.  It came from the factory with a Cirrus III engine of 85HP.  It was a two-place biplane. It sold initially, date not specified, to Raymond A. Swenson of Williston, ND.

NC840H landed at Tucson November 12, 1929 flown solo by Thomas Colby.  Based in Detroit, MI, Colby was westbound from El Paso, TX to Los Angeles, CA.  He remained overnight in Tucson, continuing the next morning at 10:45AM.

Image, below, from the collection of Tim Kalina. His sources say, “It's not a Laird [which Colby flew to Tucson 1/11/1932], but is DEFINITELY his Great Lakes. The give away is the left hand end of the picture, where the cowling starts falling away to the bullet nose, with the fairing over the Cirrus engine cylinders in the middle. Furthermore, there's a hint of an elliptical-shaped color demarcation just ahead of the large fuselage lettering [not clear in this Web-optimized image]. It's almost certainly in the standard GL orange and black color scheme."

Thomas Colby in Great Lakes NC840H, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Kalina)

Please follow the link to Colby to learn more about his aviation paint business.  An image of this airplane on another Web site is available here. Note the advertising for Colby's business in both these images.

Below, a second image of 840H courtesy of Mr. Kalina. He says about his image, "Note that the plane has some details .... The rudder [paint pattern] is scalloped and there is no N or NC, just 840H. And the cowling carries the Berryloid phrase ‘Wings of Progress’ written in cursive."

Great Lakes NC840H, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Kalina)
Great Lakes NC840H, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Kalina)

He also points out the two aircraft in the photograph, one apparently taking off and just visible above the upper left wing of 840H. And the other kicking up dust in the background, either landing or on a takeoff roll. This is a different paint job than the photo just above it. Notice the difference in lettering.

Below, a third photograph of 840H courtesy of Mr. Kalina. Note the great depth of this quality black & white print, which is obviously a marketing promotion for the Great Lakes company. Colby stands by the airplane with cloth helmet and goggles in-hand. Note the shine on the airplane. You can just make out "Wings of Progress" on the engine cowl.

Great Lakes NC840H, Martin Field, Cleveland, OH, Date Unknown (Source: Kalina)
Great Lakes NC840H, Martin Field, Cleveland, OH, Date Unknown (Source: Kalina)

That the location is identified as Martin Field comes to us through a site visitor who grew up in Cleveland. I asked him about the railroad tracks at center, right in the photo. He says about Martin Field, "In the photo, the tracks were a main line of the New York, Chicago and St. Louis RR, commonly called the Nickle Plate Road.  Today it is part of the Norfolk Southern Corp. system.  There is very little of Martin Field left as open space, most of the remaining field is along the southern [actually southeast, see the photo below] boundary (the tracks) of the field that you see in the NC840H photo.  The rest of the field has become factories that are today mostly abandoned.  Through the Cold War, Gould Ocean Systems built the drive portion of Navy torpedoes on the property.   The old Glenn Martin Co. factory that became the Great Lakes factory in 1929 still stands at 16800 St. Clair Ave., Cleveland but is largely unrecognizable from it's days as an airplane factory; St. Clair Ave. runs along the northern [northwest] edge of the field [to the left of the photograph. The factory has been added onto and very much changed in appearance."

You can learn more about Martin Field at the link to the Abandoned Airfields Web site.


UPLOADED: 12/23/07 REVISED: 10/30/08, 09/03/11, 09/25/11, 04/28/14

The Register
I'm looking for additional 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.
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