Registration Number NC8572
The Curse of Lake Michigan
This aircraft was a Waco 10-T (“taperwing”) with
original manufacturer’s serial number A-82. The Advance
Aircraft Company, Troy, OH built it on June 1, 1929. It left the
factory at 2,600 lbs., with a 220 HP Wright Whirlwind J-5
engine S/N B-9827. It was a three-passenger airplane that
visited the Airfield twice.
It sold on May 29, 1929 to John H. Livingston of Aurora, IL. Mr.
Livingston was a well-known air racer of the era. He is the
pilot for whom Richard Bach named "Jonathan Livingston
Seagull". See NC6586
for an airplane Livingston flew.
Livingston sold the Waco on July 18, 1929 to Duncan Hodges of Lake Forest,
IL, then on September 12, 1929 it transferred to fine artist Ralph Fisher Skelton of Chicago. You can see photographs at Skelton's page of what is probably NC8572. We
find pilot Skelton with NC8572 at Tucson on January 27, 1930 westbound from
El Paso, TX to San Diego, CA. A couple of weeks later, on February 10, 1930
he is eastbound from Yuma, AZ to El Paso, TX. Both times he
carried passenger Jerry Wood.
Skelton flew NC8572 for a while and in April 1930 ground looped
the airplane. It required two new wing struts. April was not
a good month. A notation on the record states, “Ship
and pilot disappeared over Lake Michigan on or about April
12, 1930.” Why?
Current aerial navigation charts of the Lake Michigan area specifically
caution pilots about the possible loss of horizontal reference
while over the Lake: the sky and water blend in the distance
without linear definition of a horizon. It is easy for an inexperienced
pilot (or an experienced pilot without a gyroscopic horizon)
to suffer disorientation and vertigo under such a circumstance.
As it is now, so it was then. The airplane’s registration
was cancelled May 22, 1930.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 08/05/05 REVISED: 01/04/09, 06/11/23