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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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


There is no data for NC96W in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC.


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Pitcairn NC96W is a model PA-7S, which was sold to Doig Realty Corp. on May 29, 1930. Besides the image of the airplane in the link below, we have these two action images of 96W from Margery Doig's scrapbook shared by her family (right sidebar). Daughter Susan Sala states, "I don't know if my mother owned a realty company but I do know her family owned a lot of real estate in New York and Connecticut."

Although there were no captions on the backs of these photographs, they look like an approach to landing in the upper image, with a two-point touchdown in the second one. Note the slim, racing landing gear (see close-up photos below)

NC96W, Location & Date Unknown (Source: Sala)
NC96W, Location & Date Unknown

Although we don't know the date of these images, they were't taken during her competition in the 1930 NAR (see below). The reason being that the front cockpit is not covered over in these photos. The registration number is clearly visible on the upper wing. Does anyone RECOGNIZE the location of this airfield from the billboard on the roof?

NC96W, Location & Date Unknown (Source: Sala)
NC96W, Location & Date Unknown

Image, below, is of the company order sheet for Margery Doig's purchase of her PA-7S. Thanks to David for sharing this historic document with us directly from the Pitcairn corporate archives. Note the colors of the aircraft as delivered from the factory on May 29, 1930 (the final reassignment of the airplane to Doig Realty Company is dated June 17, 1930). The special fairings (see below) are noted, as well as the fact that this airplane had a hand starter. Total price: $8,372.59. Notice also that aggregate aircraft sales to-date for the company were $16,865.05. Every nickel was important in 1930.

Order Sheet for NC96W (Source: Pitcairn)
Order Sheet for NC96W

NC96W landed at Tucson Sunday, August 3, 1930. It was flown by pilot M.E. Grevemberg. He carried a single passenger, Margery Doig, who was a charter member of The Ninety-Nines. Please direct your browser to Doig's biography page and you will be able to download a PDF of her pilot flight log book. On page 17 you will find her flying from Bridgeport to Pitcairn field in Pennsylvania. There she flies two Pitcairn PA-7 aircraft, NC213W and NC96W. She bought 96W. Pilot Grevemberg, passenger Doig and NC96W can be seen on this site at this link.

Actually, there are two conjectures surrounding the Register entry for this visit. These arose from examining her 1929-1934 flight log (2.7MB) provided to us by her family. First is the actual date of her visit. The Airfield Register on page 142 clearly records August 3rd. The handwriting in the Register is not hers. Her personal flight log records her visit on August 1st. In her log it looks like she made a series of entries at the same time, perhaps resolving a few days' flights. It would not be unusual for her to overlook the exact date. Or it may have been Grevemberg who got the date wrong when he signed the Register.

The second discrepancy has to do with who was actually flying her airplane. She arrived with Grevemberg, whose signature appears in the Register in the pilot's column, with Doig listed as passenger. According to her pilot log, however, she was the pilot and Grevemberg was the passenger. You can see her log entry on page 18 of her log PDF. Take a look; you can make your own decision.

David Pitcairn (right sidebar) provides the following images of the landing gear and of the airplane.

Landing Gear, NC96W (Source: Pitcairn)
Landing Gear, NC96W

Mr. Pitcairn says about these two photographs, "They are detail pictures of the landing gear which had extra fairings, compared to a standard PA-7S, along with much larger wing root fairings." Note those characteristics, and compare them with the airplane pictured at the link above. The stripe on the hubcap, and the fairings, are clearly visible at the link.

Landing Gear Closeup Showing Wheel Fairings, NC96W (Source: Pitcairn)
Landing Gear Closeup Showing Wheel Fairings, NC96W

Grevemberg and Doig were westbound to Los Angeles, CA. Margery would compete in the 1930 Women's Class A Pacific Derby between Long Beach, CA and Chicago, IL. She, unfortunately, was forced out of the race near Emporia, Kansas by an engine fire. Below, an image of 96W wearing race number "2" during the 1930 race. Behind her is what appears to be the Waco Taperwing, NC21M, flown by Gladys O'Donnell, ultimate winner of that year's race.

NC96W, NAR 1930, Race #2 (Source: Pitcairn)
NC96W, NAR 1930, Race #2

Grevemberg competed in Event 22, the Men's 800 five mile course. He placed 4th, out of the money. Both of them flew this airplane, which carried race number 2.

The official FAA record for the airplane holds a letter dated August 24, 1932, handwritten and signed by Doig, requesting from the Department of Commerce (DOC) a Form AB-16 (bill of sale) since she had, "... just sold the airplane." A further letter to the DOC, dated February 17, 1933 confirms the purchase of NC96W by Pennsylvania Airlines, Inc., based at the Pittsburgh-Butler airport. On February 12th a weight and balance sheet produced by the airlines documented a "9D receiver complete" radio installed. Althought this radio was not installed at the factory (see the factory delivery sheet, above), it is not clear if Doig had it installed and it went with the sale, or if the airlines installed it.

On September 18, 1935 the airplane was sold to L.D. Sherrick of Canton, OH. On June 11, 1936, Sherrick sold it to the Wooster Aeronautical Corporation, Wooster, OH. In what looks like a brokered airplane deal, Wooster Aeronautical sold NC96W to Leo J. Klise of Wooster on July 17, 1936. Below, from site visitor Deborah Blake, a photograph of 96W during the Wooster-Klise transaction. Note that the slim, racing landing gear has been removed.

NC96W, Wooster, OH, ca. June, 1936 (Source: Blake)
NC96W, Wooster, OH, ca. June, 1936 (Source: Blake)

New owner Klise performed some radio work on the airplane dated October 6, 1936, replacing the 9D receiver with and RCA model AVR-7B. The image below is of the drawing provided with the Form 466, "Repair and Alteration Form, Aircraft-Engines-Propellers" to support the alteration. Like pilots, who must have periodic medical exams, any changes to an airframe, engine or propeller that depart from the original type certification for the aircraft, must be approved.

Radio Alteration, October 6, 1936 (Source: FAA via Pitcairn)
Radio Alteration, October 6, 1936 (Source: FAA via Pitcairn)

Mr. Klise sold the airplane to Jacob Weinman Lytle of Pittsburgh, PA on October 4, 1936, two days before the radio installation was approved. Perhaps the new equipment was installed as a condition of sale.

A little over two years later, as of December 7, 1938, the airplane was sold to Barbara Marschner of Lincoln, NB. On December 16th, NC96W was involved in an accident at 4:30PM seven miles west of Council Bluffs, IA. The solo pilot, Affred [sic] Dayton Langille, suffered minor injuries. According to the official accident report filed on January 9, 1939, the forward fuselage was badly damaged, the landing gear were "washed out" and "all wings badly broken". The motor mount was broken and one propeller blade was "badly bent". The airworthiness certificate was cancelled as of January 25, 1939. Reason given: "accident".


UPLOADED: 11/28/08 REVISED: 04/07/09, 10/27/09, 06/03/10

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 David Pitcairn for images of hte landing gear structure of NC96W.

And to Margery Doig's grand daughter Lyn Sala, and daughter Susan Sala for action images of the airplane, left.

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