Thomas Blackburn's first visit to Tucson was recorded on Thursday, February 4, 1926 at 12:10 PM. He was solo in an unidentified Douglas O-2. Based at Kelly Field, San Antonio, TX, he was eastbound from San Diego, CA to San Antonio. He remained on the ground 50 minutes.
His second visit was recorded on Thursday, August 20, 1931 at 1:00 PM. This time he was based at Rockwell Field, San Diego, CA. He carried a single passenger, a Sgt. McCarron, in an unidentified Douglas BT-2B. They appeared to be on a round-robin flight from Rockwell to Tucson and back.
Like many interbellum Army pilots, Blackburn's NASM biographical file is sparse, containing only a few snips of material from several volumes of "Who's Who in Aviation"; no photographs and no news clippings. He has just a few relevant Google hits, mostly related to his service during WWII and beyond.
Blackburn was born at Cane Hill, AR on April 26, 1892. He was educated in Cane Hill public schools and attended two years of college. He worked briefly in St. Louis, MO between 1914 and 1917 and enlisted in the Army at the outbreak of WWI. He was trained by the RAF from 1917-18 and served as a pilot in 56 squadron He was rated on July 24, 1918 as a pursuit pilot and promoted to 1st Lieutenant, transferring to the Allied Expeditionary Force from August 1918 to April 1919.
After the war he married in 1920. As of 1921 he was based at Langley Field, VA. He remained a 1st Lieutenant and was based at Kelly Field, San Antonio, TX as of 1925 (coinciding with his first landing at Tucson, above). According to his biographical file, he remained at Kelly at least until 1928. Although one source says he was a Captain from 1920-1932, he identified himself in the Register as "Lt." in 1931.
Regardless, according to "Who's Who in Aviation 1942-43", he held the rank of major from 1932-1939; Lt. Col. 1939-42 and Colonel since 1942. Along the way he graduated from the Air Service Mechanics School in 1920, the Air Service Field Officers School in 1921 and the Air Corps Advanced Flying School in 1928.
Just after WWII, from August 26, 1947 to its deactivation on May 1, 1948, he commanded the 7th Fighter Wing to provide air defense of the Hawaiian Islands. From there he went to Keesler Air Force Base, Biloxi, MS, to command various organizations through 1950. It is not clear if he advanced past the rank of Colonel. No further information.
UPLOADED: 07/17/08 REVISED: