Registration Number NX-211
FLOWN TO DAVIS-MONTHAN AIRFIELD BY
PLEASE NOTE: AS OF APRIL 2, 2007 A MOVIE
OF LINDBERGH AND NX-211 ON THE GROUND AND IN THE AIR AT TUCSON
IS AVAILABLE ON THIS SITE HERE!
This airplane is a Ryan monoplane manufactured in April
1927 by "Ryan Airlines, San Diego, Calif." It owned neither
serial number nor type certificate. For three months
after its manufacture it did not have a "legal" dataplate
or registration number (see the NASM record image, below).
It came from the factory with a Whirlwind J-5C engine (S/N
7331, built on April 1, 1927). It had a gross weight (GW)
of 4,950 pounds, an empty weight (EW) of 1,930 pounds. GW-EW=
3,020 pounds useful load. Most of this useful load was devoted
to fuel during the transatlantic voyage a month later on
May 20-21, 1927. There are hundreds of thousands of Google hits on this airplane and its Atlantic crossing.
Upon its disassembly and return to the U.S. on shipboard from France, it was reassembled at Naval Air Station, Anacostia, DC in preparation for Lindbergh's good wiil flights to Mexico, South America and the U.S. The reassembly was captured in the June 29, 1929 issue of the Bureau of Aeronautics Newsletter. That article is below.
Bureau of Aeronautics Newsletter, June 29, 1927 (Source: Webmaster)
When Lindbergh came to Tucson, he was on
his goodwill tour of the United States, approximately 5 months
after his flight from New York to Paris (the "NYP"
in the aircraft identification stands for "New York
to Paris"). He landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield
on the afternoon of September 23, 1927 at 2:00 PM. Refer
22 of the register for Lindbergh’s signature and
his identification of NX-211. Below Lindbergh's signature
is that of Phil Love (who accompanied him in a Department
of Commerce Fairchild). Love is one of an exclusive fraternity
of pilots known to have flown the Spirit of St.
Louis solo (the only others
were Major James Lanphier and Lindbergh himself).
Lindbergh and the Spirit were met at the airfield by about
20,000 people that afternoon. The political, social and technical
aspects of the development, delivery and flights of the Spirit
of St. Louis can be found in the works of Ev Cassagneres,
left, and the museum link, upper right.
WHAT DID THE SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS LOOK
LIKE ON THE GROUND IN TUCSON?
While Lindbergh went about his tour duties in Tucson that
afternoon and evening, the "Spirit of St. Louis"
stayed behind at the Airfield. Below is an image of the airplane
while on the ground at Tucson. This image came from the
collection of Mrs. Charles Mayse, via Mr. Cassagneres (see
left column). Her husband, Charlie
Mayse, a Golden Age pilot from the Tucson
area, signed the register ten times. Please see this link on this site for more images of NX-211 on the ground at Tucson.
Here is what the NASM record for NX211 looks
like (image below). The airplane was manufactured
"For Trans-Atlantic Flight". This terse description belies
the magnitude of the acclaim Lindbergh and the airplane
have received over the last eighty years. Likewise,
it understates the impact the trans-Atlantic flight made
on the science and discipline of aeronautics, and on air
Notice two things on this document. First,
the huge useful load of the Spirit of St. Louis is 3,020
the identification mark assignment and aircraft identification
plate were mailed to Lindbergh on June 12, 1927, a couple
of weeks after his benchmark flight. Shortly after that,
in September, we found the Spirit at Tucson.
for NX211 was canceled June 2, 1928. It is surprising that
the final disposition does not include mention that the
airplane was donated to the Smithsonian Institution by
Lindbergh. The airplane is on display there today in the
main gallery of the National Air & Space Museum on the
Washington Mall (below).
"Spirit of St. Louis" at the Smithsonian
Below is a special treat that ties
us even closer to the "Spirit" and to the Airfield. This
image was given to me in Tucson by Capt. George R. Monthan,
USN (Ret.) in early October 2005. George is the nephew
of Oscar Monthan, for whom the Davis-Monthan
Airfield is named. Incidentally, the Monthan family pronounces its surname "Montan," the "h" is not pronounced. Details are at the link.
Look carefully at the left side of the image
and find the young boy standing in light-colored shirt
and shorts. That boy is George Monthan, with his father
(wearing the cap) standing next to him photo right, and
his mother in a dark dress behind him.
Photo at right shows George Monthan in
Tucson on 10/2/05 identifying himself and his family in
the photo above, while your webmaster looks on in awe.
And that's the way it was at the old Davis-Monthan
Airfield on that sunny, early morning (note shadows),
Saturday, September 24,1927, as the prop was turned and
Lindbergh departed for Lordsburg, NM.
In Capt. Monthan's image of the "Spirit"
above, we see the prop being spun to start the engine.
In the image below, we see Lindbergh, after warming up
the engine, beginning to taxi out for departure. The airplane
just visible on the right is the Department of Commerce
Fairchild NS-7 that accompanied Lindbergh and the "Spirit
of St. Louis" around the country. The image above and the
one below were taken just minutes apart.
George Monthan and his parents
are about to be consumed in a cloud of dust! Compare this image, and the one below, with the moving picture footage available at the link.
"Spirit" Departing Tucson
(Source: G. Monthan)
Image above courtesy of Larry (Doug) Herndon,
Lindbergh owned another airplane with the
registration 211. NR211, S/N 140, was a Lockheed Sirius
Model 8 (later a Model 8 Special on floats) that he flew
from 1930 -1934. It was painted black with orange wings.
It was the first Lockheed fitted with sliding cockpit canopies.
It was flown by Lindbergh and his wife Ann on survey flights
for Pan American Airways during July-October 1931 and July-December
1933. Below is the Sirius as first built, as it has the
very short-lived external balances on the rudder (look
closely and you'll see their shadows).
It is not clear if that is Lindbergh on the
wing. This airplane is not entered in the Davis-Monthan
Airfield Register. I include it for its connection with
Lindbergh and the heritage of the number "211".
Image above courtesy of John Shankle. His
Shankle and Clarence
Shankle are signers
of the Register.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 05/03/05 REVISED: 10/19/05, 04/08/06,
02/01/07, 02/06/07, 02/17/07, 04/02/07 (movie), 09/29/07, 03/18/08, 06/06/11, 08/22/11