FORD 5-AT-B NC9639
ALWAYS A TRANSPORT
This airplane is a Ford 5-AT-B tri-motor (S/N 5-AT-17; ATC
# 156) manufactured January 10, 1929 by the Stout Metal Airplane
Company (Division of Ford Motor Company), Dearborn, MI. It
came from the factory with three Pratt & Whitney Wasp
engines (S/Ns L 981, R 979, C 1000) of 400 HP each. It
weighed 13,250 pounds. See an image of this airplane here.
It sold on February 7, 1929 to Maddux Air Lines, Los
Angeles, CA. We find NC9639 landing at Tucson on February 11,
1929 enroute west from Detroit, MI to Los Angeles, CA. It
was flown by Larry
G. Fritz, Chief Pilot for Maddux. He
carried eight passengers, including his mechanic Les Rhodda,
and William B. Mayo. Mayo was chief engineer of the
Ford Co. Fritz also carried Virginia Sullivan, Olive
Mayo, Asa Fessender, Norman Gay, a Mr. McLain and Lawrence
The airplane was probably on its way west for the grand
opening of Glendale Grand Central Terminal. A contemporary
news article (cited in the book, left) states, “Lieut.
given a signal to taxi forward….He was unable to see
to the rear, and when he gave the motors gas, the horizontal
stabilizer on the tail section caught the party amidships
knocking several persons to the ground.
“Miss Sullivan … [was] slightly injured and
recovered shortly. Miss Mayo turned her ankle and the
mayor broke his glasses….” On that trip
NC9639 was also, with little doubt, on its maiden voyage
from the factory.
It flew with Maddux into 1931 and was sold to Transcontinental
and Western Air, Inc., New York, NY on April 21, 1931. It
had a “high speed” modification as of January
2, 1931. During their ownership, the airplane wore “TWA
#611” on its fuselage.
On July 5, 1934, NC9639 was sold to Pan American Grace Airways,
Inc., New York, NY. They installed a cargo hatch and
operated the airplane as a cargo and passenger carrier with
550 HP Wasp engines in the outboard positions and flew it for
about five years on the Bolivian extension of their route.
On April 17, 1939 NC9639 was sold to Compania Aramayo de
Mines en Bolivie, La Paz, Bolivia. Listed as its final
disposition: “Sold in Bolivia and reported registered:
CB-CAM”. No further information.
UPLOADED: 04/01/06 REVISED: 09/25/07, 11/13/12