George S. Armistead visited Tucson once on Tuesday, June 28, 1932 at 3:00 PM. He carried one passenger, Tom Ward, Jr. in Stinson NC460Y. Based at Santa Monica, CA, Clover Field, they were eastbound from Gila Bend, AZ to El Paso, TX. There was no purpose listed for their trip.
George Armistead, Popular Aviation, April, 1940 (Source: PA)
Armistead was a pilot for the C.H. Babb Company. This company was the largest international broker of airplanes prior to World War II, and handled everything from Lockheed Vegas to GeeBees.
Armistead flew, unsuccessfully, the GeeBee "Q.E.D." in the 1938 Bendix cross-country race, Burbank to Cleveland. The airplane was equipped with a small tank for 100 octane gas for takeoff, and a main tank with lower octane. One version of the story around Armistead's forced landing is that, on takeoff, the fuel handle broke off and Armistead couldn’t switch tanks, causing the engine to quit near Winslow, AZ where he made a good landing in the sagebrush, but was out of the race.
Another version of this story says he noticed high oil pressure over Kingman and landed at Winslow. Coincidentally, there were three other competitors that did not finish the race; the cause listed was "mechanical problems."
Image, right, from an article authored by Armistead for Popular Aviation, April, 1940. The article, available as a download at the link (PDF 850Kb), focused on his 1938 Bendix flight in the "Q.E.D." Armistead documents and corroborates that his precautionary landing was caused by faulty oil pressure. And it was the knob on his radio that broke off, not a fuel tank handle. Interesting how stories evolve.
Regardless, the "Q.E.D" was sold to Clover Field Register pilot Francisco Sarabia, who flew it successfully from Los Angeles, CA to Mexico City in 6 hours and 20 minutes. However, Sarabia drowned in the Potomac River when the "Q.E.D.'s" engine failed upon takeoff from Washington, DC. Both Sarabia and the airplane were recovered from the river.
Lockheed aficionado, Tim Kalina, points out that the GeeBee "QED", "...was restored and is on display in a small museum in Ciudad Lerdo, Mexico." This link has some photos of the restored plane, and this one describes the GeeBee line and mentions the "QED" near the bottom of the page.
Armistead does not have a biographical file at the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC. He has a very sparse web presence, with most of the information having to do with the 1938 Bendix Race. This PDF (529KB) article from Skyways Journal (April, 2006) describes the GeeBee "QED" and shows the airplane as Armistead flew it in the Bendix Race.
Armistead also visited Clover Field, Santa Monica, CA and is signed in the Register there on July 16, 1929. Please link over there for more information about Armistead.
UPLOADED: 04/24/08 REVISED: 05/05/08, 07/09/14