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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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


The definitive reference for early Lockheed aircraft is:

Allen, Richard S. 1988. Revolution in the Sky: The Lockheeds of Aviation's Golden Age. Orion Books, NY. 253 pp.


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This airplane is a Lockheed Vega Model 5B (S/N 133; ATC #227) manufactured during September 1930 by Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, CA.  It left the factory with a Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine (S/N 3201) of 450 HP.  It was a five-place airplane.  During its life it moved with notable owners back and forth across the U.S. and finally to Mexico.  It was a frequent visitor to Tucson, landing and cited in the Register at least five times.

It first sold late in 1930 to Kessler Oil & Gas Corporation, Oklahoma City, OK.  Kessler had two corporate pilots, Ted Hurlbut and, later, Frank Hover.  The record of landing at Tucson by NC905Y nicely reflects the work of these two pilots. Please direct your browser to the link in the right sidebar to see an image of 905Y in Kessler livery. The man standing next to the airplane is unidentified, but upon magnification appears to have a moustache. Compare with Hover's photograph at his link.

NC905Y first landed at Tucson on October 22, 1930 piloted by Hurlbut.  He carried two passengers, J.N. Kessler and H.C. Tripp.  They were eastbound from San Diego, CA to El Paso, TX.  This could easily be the ferry trip of this brand new airplane from the factory, with the new owner on board.

Hurlbut was pilot on the second visit, too, on January 11, 1931.  He carried passenger Pat Murphy eastbound from Los Angeles, CA to Washington, DC.  The third visit was on July 1, 1931, this time piloted by Wyle V. Moore.  He carried four passengers, including Chuck Fain, Mrs. Leslie Fain, and Mr. & Mrs. Harry Frederickson.  They were westbound from El Paso, TX to Long Beach, CA.  It is not clear from the record if Moore was also a Kessler pilot. But a photograph exhibited at Moore's link shows the Fain family posed with the Kessler logo on the side of the airplane.

Frank Hover flew the fourth and fifth visits to Tucson, carrying a full load of five (unidentified) passengers each time.  His first landing was on July 25, 1931 and the second was somewhere between the 1st and 15th of August.

Late in 1931 NC905Y was sold to Ben H. Wofford, Tulsa, OK.  Wofford sold it again in 1931 to F.C. Hall of Oklahoma City, OK.  This was the third of three aircraft owned by Florence C. Hall, the oil entrepreneur and backer of Wiley Post’s record flights. 

All Hall’s airplanes were named “Winnie Mae” in honor of his daughter.  This airplane had cowl and wheel pants and was painted white with blue trim.  It was named “Winnie Mae of Oklahoma City, Okla.”  It was not the “Winnie Mae” that Post and navigator Harold Gatty flew around the world earlier in 1931.  That Lockheed Vega, NC105W, is not signed in to the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register, although Post and Gatty did land at Tucson in a Vega they did not identify that very well could have been 105W.

Hall sold the airplane during 1932 to Hal Roach Studios, Los Angeles (Culver City), CA.  There is no record of its use during this ownership.  It sold again in 1933 to Hanford’s Tri-State Airlines, Inc., Sioux City, IA and was flown in its Midwestern air routes.  Hanford’s changed its name to Hanford Airlines, Inc. on July 16, 1936, and again to Mid-Continental Airlines in 1938.  NC905Y continued to fly the routes. Below, courtesy of Tim Kalina, is a photograph of NC905Y on the ground in Souix City wearing Hanford livery. It had suffered an engine fire. The caption on the back of the photo reads, "Hanford Air Lines Vega 5C after engine fire Sioux City, Iowa." No date was given

Lockheed Vega NC905Y After an Engine Fire, Sioux City, IA, Date Unknown (Source: Kalina)

The back of the photo is also stamped with a photo studio name and address, "Woodworth Commercial Photos
302 Badgerow Bldg. Sioux City 1, Iowa." If you note carefully, the area of the fuselage immediately above the port landing gear is unburned. This suggests that the fire, fortunately, occurred on the ground and not in the air.

Below is a shared by site visitor Ron Campbell. The photo was taken at Aberdeen, ND by his father when he was flying 905Y for Hanford airlines in the mid 1930's.

Lockheed Vega NC905Y, Lockheed Vega NC905Y, Aberdeen, SD, Mid-1930s (Source: Campbell)
Lockheed Vega NC905Y, Lockheed Vega NC905Y, Aberdeen, SD, Mid-1930s (Source: Campbell)

In 1940 the airplane was sold to R.L. Brown, Kansas City, MO.  Brown sold it the Charles H. Babb, aircraft broker, New York, NY during 1942.  Much of Babb’s inventory went south of the border.  NC905Y was no different.  Babb sold it for $7,500 on January 18, 1943 to Lineas Aereas Mineras, S.A. (LAMSA), Mazatlan, Mexico.  Delivery was taken of the airplane at Ft. Pierce, FL and the engine was exchanged for a 450HP Wasp at Durango.  It received Mexican registration XA-DEB.

Now begins hazardous duty.  NC905Y suffered an accident at Durango on April 1, 1943.  Pilot Alfonso Deos Ardito and unidentified passengers were uninjured.  The left landing gear strut was broken and investigation disclosed that the main fuselage bulkhead was broken prior to purchase by LAMSA.  XA-DEB was repaired and put back in service.

It suffered a second accident ca. 1944 at an undetermined location somewhere north of Mexico City on the way to Juarez.  The airplane was flying low when the engine suddenly quit resulting in an emergency landing.  It nosed over in a large ditch.  It was repaired and given a new red and white paint scheme.

It suffered its third and final accident at Tayolita, Durango, Mexico ca. 1945.  It ground looped on landing and was too badly damaged for repair.  Parts of XA-DEB and four other Lockheed Vegas were sold to Capt. Carlos Cervantes, Ensenada, Mexico.  See NC2875 for another Vega that wound up in Ensenada.


UPLOADED: 06/06/06 REVISED: 07/28/08, 04/09/16, 12/04/18

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.

Thanks to friend Tim Kalina, you can find one image of the airplane owned by the Oklahoma Historical Society here. You'll need to click on 'archives' --> search for 'kessler" --> then follow the lead to the image captioned, "PLANES - NC-905-1 KESSLER OIL & GAS COMPANY PLANE, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA".


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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