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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.


http://www.cafepress.com/content/global/img/spacer.gifThe Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of www.dmairfield.org 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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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.


Blackburn's signature shows up on a "short snorter" from his military transport days during 1942. This link provides an image of the short snorter, along with identifications of Blackburn's and all the other signatories. Register pilot Hoyt Vandenberg also signed this short snorter.

Another short snorter with the signature of Register pilot Alger Graham is here.

Does anyone KNOW the etiology of the phrase or the origin of the short snorter practice?


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Harold Blackburn signed the Register on Monday May 18, 1931 as a military pilot. He carried Sgt. Peck as his single passenger. They were based at San Diego, CA, Rockwell Field. They were southeast bound from San Diego to Nogales, AZ in an unidentified deHavilland aircraft. They noted in the Remarks column of the Register, "checking strip maps".

There is surprisingly little Web-based information on Blackburn. Equally surprising, I did not find a biographical file for him at the Smithsonian. This in the face of his legendary status as a long-time TWA pilot who rubbed shoulders with the likes of Register pilot Paul Richter. Below, an undated article courtesy of Ruth Richter Holden.

Undated Article (Source: Richter Holden)

Undated Article
Undated Article, Continued
Undated Article, Continued

Mike Gerow points out a 1956 New Yorker magazine article cited here. It documents one of his Paris flights alluded to above. The precis for the New Yorker article:

"Blackie" By Bill Cass, 2016 (Source: Woodling)


"PROFILE of Capt. Harold F. Blackburn, veteran TWA pilot, who has spent 20,000 hours in the air, has flown 4 million miles, & has made 569 Intercontinental flights. Account of Capt. B's activities, from the time he left his home until he landed "The Star of Mexico" at Orly Field at Paris, Hour-by-hour account of what went on in the control cabin during the flights; landing & takeoff at Shannon. During the flight Blackburn gave his view of life & religion. "You've got to be religious to fly," he said. He is a native of Urbana, Ill, & took his first airplane ride at the age of 17, & decided then that there was nothing else for him. He attended Colorado A & M College for 2 years, but had to return home to help support his family. After that he worked as a mechanic, auto salesman, then formed his own orchestra and toured the country. In '28 he tried to join the Air Corps but failed the examination & had to take additional courses at the U. of S. California. He received his wings in '30, was released from the Air Corps in '32, and joined the TWA in '35. During the war he was superintendent of TWA's Intercontinental Div., which was part of the Air Transport Command, and managed, though technically a civilian, to fly six combat missions over Europe."

A cinema verite movie was made of his final transatlantic flight at age 60. It is described here. Blackburn's biography (1962) by John Bainbridge, is entitled "Like a Homesick Angel". Another biography by Bill Cass is available (March, 2016). The book cover is at right.



UPLOADED: 06/19/08 REVISED: 06/16/11, 03/13/16

The Register
I'm looking for photographs of pilot Blackburn to include on this page. If you have one or more you'd like to share, please use this FORM to contact me.
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