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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.


This image comes to us courtesy of the Klein Archive of Aviation Photographs available for view on this website.

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Fairchild NX5501 appears in the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register twice, on September 11 and 21,1928. Both times it was flown by C.B.D. Collyer. On September 11th he was westbound competing in the 1928 National Air Races that used Tucson as a waypoint in the Class "C" race that year. Collyer and his passengers, identified simply as "Findley" and "Stribner" in the Register, did well.

They placed second overall with an elapsed time of 27:10:45, about two hours behind the winner (and about 20 minutes ahead of the 3rd place winner). According to the 1929 Aircraft Yearbook (REFERENCES), for their efforts, Collyer and Findley earned $2,500 in second-place prize money, plus another $175 in lap prize awards. It is unknown if they kept the money, or had to share it with their race sponsor, the Fairchild Airplane Mfg. Co.

Fairchild NX5501 (Source: Klein)
Fairchild NX5501

The annotation on the original photograph states, " Fairchild FC-2W, P&W R-1340 “Wasp” 410HP, NX5501  c/n 86, 'The City of New York', John Mears and Charles Collyer’s, 'Round-the-World' in 23 days, 15 hours at Bettis Field 7/21/28." This was about two months before it landed the first time at Tucson. Below, from the San Diego Aerospace Museum (SDAM), is another left profile photograph of the airplane. It appears to be taken at a different time and location. The race number, 143, on the fuselage dates this image during the time of the 1928 National Air Races.

Fairchild NX5501, Ca. September, 1928, Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)
Fairchild NX5501, Date & Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)

The second landing on September 21st was eastbound from Los Angeles, CA to El Paso, TX. Collyer carried two passengers this time, identified simply as "Roberts" and "Stribner". We can safely guess this is the return trip to their home base in New York after the end of the Air Races.


As happens sometimes, site visitors with keen eyes and deeper knowledge of aircraft types open conjectures. Visitor Lars Opland states, "Fairchild NX5501 'City of New York' is often referred to as anFC-2W (I think even Juptner did this), but it clearly has the 2-foot longer rear fuselage of an FC-2W2."

When I asked if he had definitive clarification of the actual model, he supports himself further by stating, "...the source material is contradictory. NX5501 is listed & captioned everywhere as an FC-2W.'s George Clapp on the only distinguishing characteristic between an FC-2W & an FC-2W2:

"'FC-2W2  A new 2 ft. section was added to the fuselage just aft of the wing. This can be seen in side view photos as the continuity of the curve of the former FC-2 belly [actually a straight line in profile] is disrupted at this point. The same FC-2 tail group was used on early production aircraft. Later both vertical & horizontal surfaces were increased in area & a new strut was added below that moved up & down as the stabilizer was adjusted in flight. The elevators now were aero-dynamically balanced at the tips. The same FC-2W wing & struts were used. Basically this was still the same FC-2 airframe (jig built) & lengthened. Seating of the FC-2W2 was gradually increased from 5 to 7 as on the later 71s'."

Further, Mr. Opland states, "So 'City of New York' may have been listed as an FC-2W, even by the manufacturer, but she was built & flown as an FC-2W2. Clapp's HAA caption for the photo of  '...New York' calls her an 'FC-2W1', but Juptner has no entry for such a beast & reports her as an FC-2W (the designation on the tail of the prototype FC-2W ... appears to read 'FC-2W1', though...). The production list in 'Fairchild Utility Monoplanes' (AAHS [American Aviation Historical Society] 19/2, summer 1974) by Juptner, Molson & Rinehart also calls her an FC-2W & lists no FC-2W1's."

The airplane appears to be an unmistakable FC-2W2.


THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 09/30/07 REVISED: 11/07/07, 07/02/09, 06/24/11

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---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.


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