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LOCKHEED AIRCRAFT

OF THE DELTA MIKE AIRFIELD REGISTER PROJECT

UNDER DEVELOPMENT

Within the Registers of the six airfields that comprise the Delta Mike Airfield project are signed 308 visits by at least 121 different Lockheed aircraft. Practically every model of Golden Age Lockheed is represented, as are their pilots and passengers. One Vega, NC6526, operated by the Curtiss-Wright Flying Service out of the Grand Central Air Terminal, landed 34 times, more than any other Lockheed.

Of 198 Lockheed Vega, Sirius, Orion and Altairs ever made, the 121 represented in our Registers comprise 61% of the manufacturer's total output of these machines.

Below, from site visitor Tim Kalina, a photograph of the Lockheed manufacturing plant. There are ten Vegas visible in this photograph, and what appears, farthest right, to be a single biplane. Mr. Kalina says about this photo, "I obtained this scan from Lockheed/Martin years ago. The Lockheed lettering on the roofs does appear to have been retouched but the actual lettering was there on the building roofs. I guess in the original photo this lettering may have not had enough ‘punch’ so was sharpened up."

Lockheed Manufacturing Plant, Ca. 1929 (source: Kalina)
Lockheed Manufacturing Plant, Ca. Late 1920's-Early 1930's

He continues, "The conical kiln stacks above the hangers are from the old Empire China company which used to be located at the field but which, I believe, was vacated soon after Lockheed purchased the land. Note the round white circle at the right center. This was located in the center of the landing strip.

"To the left of this white circle you’ll see three planes. In the center of the three planes you can barely make out the concrete ‘run-up’ pad, which can be seen in many photos taken of planes at the plant. In the lower left hand corner you see the old San Fernando Road (now Victory Place) intersecting with the dark Empire Avenue.

"Today this whole area is a large shopping center called the Empire Center. I reckon they named it after Empire Avenue which was itself most likely named after the china company....The shopping center buildings are located where the old landing strip used to be. And you can still see that the railroad tracks intersecting at the top of the view, just like in the old photo."

Below, a Google Earth (34° 11' 07.11" N; 118° 19' 41.13" W) view of the approximate location of the old Lockheed plant. Note that north is to the left.

Lockheed Manufacturing Plant Location, 2009 (Source: Google Earth)
Lockheed Manufacturing Plant Location, 2009

The railroad is in approximately the same position, with its junction at top right in both images. Empire Avenue, in yellow, still bisects the image through the center, top to bottom. Interstate 5 now parallels the railroad tracks in the NW - SE direction. The roofing and parking lots of the Empire Center are clearly visible on top of the old landing strip and concrete runup pad. The groves norteast of the curve in Empire Avenue/N. San Fernando Blvd. are long gone, replaced now by what appears to be a recreational complex with tennis courts, swimming pool, baseball diamonds and a basketball court at the corner of Andover Dr. and N. Glenoaks Blvd. Tempus fugit!

Further to the old Lockheed plant image above, Mr. Kalina states, "I would guess the old plant photo is around 1929. Lockheed moved to this site in 1928 from their original, small plant at Sycamore and Romaine in Hollywood. You’ll note that all the Vegas in the photo are early models. They all have the ‘bullet’ nose (no cowling) and the small rounded fin/rudder. And they all carry the early style factory paint schemes.

"Lockheed initially shared the buildings you see at the bottom (beneath the Empire China building) with the Mission Glass Company, who were the original tenants of the building. Lockheed soon took over all of the building."

He offers the annotated photograph below to clarify the use of the property. Please compare it with the one above.

Lockheed Plant, Ca. 1929 (source: Kalina)

An unusual occurrence led to the photograph below from the June, 1933 issue of Popular Aviation (PA) magazine. It shows four famous Lockheeds as cited in the text below the photograph.

Four Famous Lockheeds, Popular Aviation, June, 1933 (Source: PA)

Three of these airplanes are recorded in our Registers. Amelia Earhart's red Vega, NC7952. Wiley Post's white Vega, NC105W. Hal Roach's Orion, NC12229.

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The film below, from YouTube with permission, is a WWII-vintage promotional film from Lockheed. This is a 30-minute film, but our interest is only in the first ten minutes or so. There you will see several Register aircraft and pilots. Among the people are: Art Goebel, Frank Hawks, Ruth Nichols, Wiley Post, Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh.

Among the aircraft are: The Lockheed Vega "Yankee Doodle", NX4769 flown by Goebel, Lockheed Air Express 7955 flown by Hawks, Vega NR496M flown by Nichols, Vega NR105W "Winnie Mae" flown by Post (might be a Register airplane), and Vega NR965Y flown by Earhart. Unfortunately, none of these are Register airplanes. Lindbergh's Sirius or Kingsford-Smith's Altair are also not Register airplanes.

 The description, with relevant dates, is as follows.

"Promotional film about Lockheed aircraft using test pilots and speed records to show how Lockheed is at the forefront of aviation technology. Wright Brothers, Amelia Earhart, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Lindbergh and Howard Hughes are shown. Also airplane construction.

Stock shots:
Snowy mountain peaks encircled with clouds; Large sailing ship, full-rigged; "pioneer" wagons against a backdrop of clouds; Kitty Hawk, Wright Brothers first flight;
1928, Lockheed Vega "Yankee Doodle" landing breaking speed record -- NY to LA in 18 hours and 58 minutes pilots Col. Arthur Gobel (sp?) and Harry Tucker
1929 Capt. Frank Hawks climbs in cockpit on his way to setting a new transcontinental record. Take off on West Coast;
1931 Lockheed Col. Charles Lindbergh and Mrs. Anne Morrow Lindbergh (!) head from Washington, D.C., over the Bering Sea and land on pontoons in Tokyo to cheering throngs;
1931 Ruth Nichols lands her Lockheed Vega after establishing women's altitude record of 28,743 ft. CU of Nichols in ski parka in cockpit.
1933: "Winnie Mae", Wiley Post first man to fly around the world alone.
1933, Col. Charles Lindbergh and Mrs. Lindbergh embark on 29,000 mile survey flight from New York to Labrador, Greenland, Iceland, Europe, the Azores, Africa, Brazil and back to NY.
1934: Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, Capt. P.G. Taylor land in Oakland after flying from Australia. First West to East trans-Pacific flight. "Lady Southern Cross." Large crowds gather to cheer.
1935 Amelia Earhart flies from Honolulu to Oakland, the first woman to make a solo flight over the Pacific; throngs of people run to plane; she is picture with a large bouquet of flowers.
1938 Howard Hughes: sets new record traveling around the world;
Beautiful aerial shot of crowds milling around Howard Hughes' plane
"Electra" Lockheed's all-metal bi-motor transport.
Six-passenger plane; Loadstar, luxury plane, fastest
Shows airline routes on map by company including Latin American; Africa: Europe: Asia; Antipodes; Australia; New Zealand;
Burbank plant in 1926; same plant currently, 1940, men of Lockheed going to work;
Drafting room of engineering department; giant room ; passengers; in Loadstar; businessman giving dictation to secretary; Excalibur cabin;
detailed information on market research being done by Lockheed; women collating questionaires; "if you were to build your own ship where you locate sent to airline pilots, executives; findings recording in another pamphlet; then submitted to the engineers feedback sent back to suit the men who know airplanes best;
scale model; wind tunnel model; 90 mile an hour wind blowing a palm tree by the beach.
wind tunnel in operation; massive hydropress; construction of parts; compressed air stamp; cracking an egg out of which comes a small chick; anodizing bath; spectrograph; animation of spectrograph; stress airplanes aircraft aviation"

The original on YouTube is at the link if you care to watch it there. Recently, an online video shows the first flight of a restored Lockheed Vega, NC12288 at the link. This Vega is an all-metal model and it has some inaccuracies of paint scheme and hardware. But, as of 2014, it is the only example of a flying Vega!

Below, a billboard style advertisement for a U.K. investment firm displayed in the new Terminal 5 at London’s Heathrow Airport (2008).

The Romance of the Lockheed Vega (source: Kalina)
The Romance of the Lockheed Vega

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UPLOADED: REVISED:

 
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