LOCKHEED VEGA Model 5B NC905Y
THE THIRD “WINNIE MAE” --
GROUND-LOOPED IN MEXICO
This airplane is a Lockheed Vega Model 5B (S/N 133; ATC
#227) manufactured during September 1930 by Lockheed Aircraft
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
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)
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
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