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Some of this information comes from the biographical file for pilot Brock, CB-771000-01, reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC.




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, while supplies last.

---o0o--- Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of 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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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.


Military Aircraft of the Davis Monthan Register, 1925-1936 is available at the link. This book describes and illustrates with black & white photographs the majority of military aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield between 1925 and 1936. The book includes biographies of some of the pilots who flew the aircraft to Tucson as well as extensive listings of all the pilots and airplanes. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author, while supplies last.


Art Goebel's Own Story by Art Goebel (edited by G.W. Hyatt) is written in language that expands for us his life as a Golden Age aviation entrepreneur, who used his aviation exploits to build a business around his passion.  Available as a free download at the link.


Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race is available at the link. What was it like to fly from Oakland to Honolulu in a single-engine plane during August 1927? Was the 25,000 dollar prize worth it? Did the resulting fame balance the risk? For the first time ever, this book presents the pilot and navigator's stories written by them within days of their record-setting adventure. Pilot Art Goebel and navigator William V. Davis, Jr. take us with them on the Woolaroc, their orange and blue Travel Air monoplane (NX869) as they enter the hazardous world of Golden Age trans-oceanic air racing.


Clover Field: The First Century of Aviation in the Golden State. With the 100th anniversary in 2017 of the use of Clover Field as a place to land aircraft in Santa Monica, this book celebrates that use by exploring some of the people and aircraft that made the airport great.


New York Herald Tribune. August 29, 1927 (image, right).

Urbana Daily Citizen, Urbana, OH. July 17-20, 1945 (quotes, below).


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One of the original Early Birds (image of him at this link), William S. "Billy" Brock landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield six times between February 12, 1927 and February 22, 1929. His globe-circling partner (see images and texts below), Ed Schlee, was his passenger on October 4, 1928, when they landed in Bellanca J NX7085. Please follow the airplane's link to learn more about the context of their October 4th landing at Tucson.

Ed Schlee (L) and Wm. Brock, September 28, 1928, San Diego, CA Standing in Front of a Bellanca Aircraft, Probably NX7085 (Source: Kalina)
Ed Schlee (L) and Wm. Brock, September 28, 1928, San Diego, CA Standing in Front of a Bellanca Aircraft, Probably NX7085

Above, from Tim Kalina, an image of Schlee (L) and Brock taken September 28, 1928 in San Diego, CA. Mr. Kalina says of his image, "The Bellanca behind Schlee and Brock has to be NX7085, so in this photo we have a 'hat trick’, three D-M [Register] figures in one photo!" Below, from the Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University (WSU), is a photograph of Brock and Schlee dated November 2, 1928. Over a dozen images of them together and singly are at the link.

William Brock (L) and Edward Schliee, November 2, 1928 (Source: WSU)
William Brock (L) and Edward Schliee, November 2, 1928 (Source: WSU)

Below, an undated image of Brock (L) and Schlee from their NASM biographical file.

W.S. Brock & E.F. Schlee, August 1927

Two landings, on February 12 and March 8, 1927, were in an unidentified Stinson airplane. This aircraft could very well have been the Detroiter SB-1, #3027 flown in the 1926 Ford Air Tour by Eddie Stinson. Via email, Brock's grandson confirms that it was. May people have contributed the photographs below over the years since this page went online in 2005. My thanks to all of them.

Site visitor M.H. from Kenilworth, England sent the image below, from his father's collection, taken in Aden (now part of the Republic of Yemen) in 1927 during the global flight. The Stinson SM-1, "Pride of Detroit", and the registration number, NC857 (not a Register airplane), on the rudder, are nicely exhibited. British military personnel crowd around, as well as a small dog enjoying the shade under the wing.

Spirit of Detroit at Aden (Iraq), 1927

Another three photographs immediately below, added September 12, 2014, are provided to us by R.D., another site visitor. R.D. states the photos were taken by his wife's great grandfather who was stationed in Iraq in the 1920s. The first image is identical to the one above, with a little less patina. Note the fuel or oil being poured into a tank by the man visible over the wing.

Stinson NC857, "Pride of Detroit," September 2, 1927 (Source: R.D.)

Below, the caption on the back of the photo above. It clearly documents key landings during the world flight of NC857, Schlee and Brock.

Stinson NC857, "Pride of Detroit," Caption, September 2, 1927 (Source: R.D.)

Below, an open air maintenance session is captured. It is not clear that this is the same session captured in the photograph next below.

Stinson NC857, "Pride of Detroit," Maintenance, September 2, 1927 (Source: R.D.)

Below is a similar photograph shared by site guest D. Hayman on October 4, 2019. She says about the image, "Attached please find the photo of "Pride of Detroit"....  It was taken in 1927 by my Uncle William Tomlinson when he was with the RAF.  He was also in attendance when Amy Johnson was flying from England to Australia and touched down in Jhansi India to refuel...." Compared to the photo above, the people standing around are in different positions, and there is a two-wheeled tail wheel support in the foreground. But, the two white cans visible in the foregound appear to be the same.

Stinson NC857, "Pride of Detroit," Maintenance, September, 1927 (?) (Source: Hayman)
Stinson NC857, "Pride of Detroit," Maintenance, September, 1927 (?)  (Source: Hayman)

Officially, Brock & Schlee's airplane is a Stinson M-2 Detroiter (not SM-2, just M-2) serial number M-201, built June 20, 1927. It had a Wright J-5 engine s/n 7556 and was described as a 6PCLM (6-place, Closed, Low-wing, Monoplane) when new. It was sold to Wayco Air Service, Inc., Detroit, MI (E. F. Schlee, President) for "air taxi service".

Below, three photographs courtesy of site visitor Jackie Crabb. They were taken ca. Sep 6, 1927 when the "Pride of Detroit" was in Calcutta, India. She says about the photographs, "I recently delved into my grandparents photo albums and came across three pictures of Pride of Detroit plane. In 1927 my grandparents were living in Calcutta, India. My grandfather worked for Goodyear. In my research of the Pride of Detroit flight in 1927 I see that it landed in
Calcutta on September 6, 1927.  My grandmother is in two of the pictures."

"Pride of Detroit," Calcutta, India, September 6, 1927 (Source: Crabb)

Contributor Crabb's grandmother is holding the parasol at left in the photo above. These three photographs were taken by her grandfather, John L. Nicholson.

"Pride of Detroit," Calcutta, India, September 6, 1927 (Source: Crabb)

The gentleman standing at right, above, appears to be Schlee, and on the box is probably Brock. Notice the canvas rollup tool kit on the ground by the wooden case. I can identify a hand grease gun, a wrench and the head of a ball peen hammer tucked in its pouch next to the grease gun. On the top of the wooden case appears to be a valve rocker arm cover just to the right of the rag. Perhaps they were performing a periodic lubrication of the rocker arms. In the photograph below, Ms. Crabb's grandmother looks at the camera while walking toward the rear of the airplane, parasol over her right shoulder.

"Pride of Detroit," Calcutta, India, September 6, 1927 (Source: Crabb)
"Pride of Detroit," Calcutta, India, September 6, 1927 (Source: Crabb)

Below (added to page February 2, 2010) are two crisp photographs courtesy of a site visitor from England, Vic Flintham. Notice on this first image "WAYCO" painted on the bottom of the starboard wing. The slightly balding gentleman studying a document under the port wing looks like Edward Schlee. The location has been identified by site visitors as Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong.

"Pride of Detroit" on the Ground, Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong, Ca. 1927 (Source: Flintham)
"Pride of Detroit" on the Ground, Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong, Ca. 1927 (Source: Flintham)

We see the "Pride of Detroit" in the air in the next image. From the flight attitude, it appears to be approaching to land. The sign on the building in the background, which probably would positively identify the location, is tantalizingly out of focus.

"Pride of Detroit" on the Ground, Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong, Ca. 1927 (Source: Flintham)
"Pride of Detroit" on the Ground, Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong, Ca. 1927 (Source: Flintham)

Interestingly, the CAA file for NC857 noted that there were " papers on file on the use of the aircraft for a 1927 Atlantic flight and on to Tokyo, Japan, crewed by Edward Schlee and William Brock".

Spirit of Detroit, X.S.

Image, above, from the New York Times, shows the airplane in cross-section, with fuel tanks and navigation equipment installed, as it made its round the globe flight. There was mention that the aircraft was named "Pride of Detroit". On inspection a year later on August 15, 1928, it had the auxiliary gas tanks removed and seats reinstalled. A letter in the CAA file indicated that it was Schlee and Brock's intention to place the aircraft in the Ford Museum in Dearborn. The registration was officially cancelled December 19, 1929. The aircraft is, in fact, in The Ford Museum.

Oswego (NY) Palladium-Times, November 21, 1927
Oswego (NY) Palladium-Times, November 21, 1927

At Aden, the airplane, and pilots Brock and Schlee, were a little less than midway in their round-the-world flight. Brock and Schlee are not identifiable in the image, unless the person in the white trousers, far left, is one of them. This source states of the pilots, "Reporters remarked that the two fliers emerged from each stop fresh and smiling, wearing white summer suits with blue bowties. They could have been a couple of casual tourists." Under magnification, all the people in the photo appear to be uniformed soldiers.

Brock and Schlee departed on their journey on August 27, 1927. They originally intended their flight to be a world flight, but they abandoned their attempt, after reaching Tokyo, Japan, because of poor weather over the Pacific Ocean. After flying across the Atlantic, they reached Japan, from England, in eighteen days, flying 145 hours and 30 minutes and covering 12,995 miles. They returned to the United States by ship, to great accolades in Detroit.

Back in the U.S., as evidenced by the article, left, they had made the "Pride of Detroit" a collector's item with all the autographs acquired during their voyage. Again under magnification, the airplane the airplane does not appear to have any visible writing on it at this point in its journey. Note that the airplane is yellow.



Brock Obituary, Popular Aviation, January, 1933 (Source: PA)


Brock died November 13, 1932. One obituary appeared in the January, 1933 issue of Popular Aviation (PA), right.


Site visitor R.R., of Urbana, OH, sent along the following four newspaper articles published in the Urbana Daily Citizen in 1945. Thanks to him.

This is a fine link for William S. Brock. R.R. shared his news articles with that site also. You'll see them there. This one is a good link, too. Both links show pictures of Brock; the latter Schlee.

Parts of the articles below are derived or quoted from other newspapers, and some of the language is semi-sensational prose. A fun journalistic vignette.


Source: Urbana Daily Citizen Urbana, OH, July 17, 1945

Headline: Billy Brock, An Unsung Hero Of Early Aviation: Long Cross-Country Flight Ends Near Urbana

"We recently ran across an article published in a little Pennsylvania Plant newspaper. It was dated July 12, 1927, shortly after Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic. We think it is worth republishing now, to draw a contrast between the pioneer flying during World War No. 1 and the exact precision of modern flying. But the precision of today would be impossible without the daring and faith of yesteryear. The article is also of direct local interest, because the destination of the flight was Springfield and Urbana, and because the Billy Brock of the article was born in West Liberty and his mother lived in Springfield. Here is the article:

“We paid our written tribute last month to Charles Lindbergh and it is with no thought to belittle his achievement that we write what is to follow. We know that Lindbergh would echo a hearty ‘Amen’ to our present toast. That is: “To the unsung heroes of the air.”

“We are looking back a little over eight years ago, and there comes to mind another airplane flight. It was made at the very end of October, 1918, while the war was still raging. Billy Brock, who was about twenty-two years old, was an instructor at Park Field in Tennessee, an Army Flying Field. He had been training other boys to fly, so that they could go overseas to help win the war. He was so good that they wouldn’t let him get away from this side of the pond.

“Toward the end of October in the year 1918, there was no thought or talk in the army, on this side at least, of any armistice or early end of the war. They planned on many more months. In fact, at Park Field they were all set with overseas equipment, as they were at all the other flying fields. The plan was to leave only a skeleton organization behind at each field, to pull up stakes enmasse, and establish an overwhelming American airplane force-in France, to overwhelm Germany from the air.

“Knowing all of this, Billy Brock wanted to fly from Park Field to his home in Springfield, Ohio, to say good-bye to his mother. That was 600 miles away, and in America only two or three had ever flown a longer distance, and no one had ever flown nearly that distance in a Curtiss Jennie. But Billy had been flying since he was 15 years old, and he was good. So, the commanding officer gave him permission to make the flight. He was to take another Army officer along as a passenger. The ship chosen was one of the first type of Curtiss training planes, a J.N.4-A, with a Curtiss O.&.5 [sic] motor. It was the only J.N.4-A at the field. They were then using J.N4-D’s, an improvised type of plane. All the other J.N.4-A’s had been junked, and this one had been put out of service. Being out of service some of the boys, in their spare time, had taken the controls out of the front cockpit and had built in a 20 gallon gasoline tank instead of the usual 10 gallon tank. That was the reason that Billy selected this discarded ship -because it could carry more gasoline. But it had this disadvantage-the installation of the larger tank had necessitated the removal of all the instruments, they being on the front dash, so the ship had no compass, no altimeter, no wind-drift indicator, not even a gasoline or an oil gauge. Its maximum speed was about 75 miles an hour, and its ceiling was about two thousand feet.

“At daybreak on a Friday morning, the ship was ‘on the line.’ No other ships were out, because the fog was so bad you could not see 50 yards ahead. Flying had been called off for the forepart of the morning, and the only people on hand besides Billy and his passenger were their wives, a couple of hanger-men, and Red Thompson, a buddy of Billy. The passenger climbed into the front seat and fastened his safety belt. Billy walked around the ship a couple of times, then climbed in and strapped. Red Thompson told Billy what a fool he was to take off in such a fog. Billy replied in proper Army repartee, and then Red handed Billy a horseshoe and a rabbit’s foot. These two buddies, who both came from Springfield, and who had flown together for years before the war, had several times handed back and forth these same charms."


Source: Urbana Daily Citizen Urbana, OH, July 18, 1945

Headline: Billy Brock, An Unsung Hero Of Early Aviation: Long Cross-Country Flight Ends Near Urbana

"At conclusion of Tuesday’s installment- the first of a four part story- Billy Brock, accompanied by a pal from Springfield, Ohio, were about to take off in an outmoded army plane for a cross-country flight from Tennessee to Urbana and Springfield.

" Enshrouded by heavy fog, with no navigation instruments to guide them, the two flyers gambled their destiny on a horseshoe and a rabbit’s foot which they had decided to take along as good luck tokens.

The story continues: “The ship took off. The fog was so thick, it was sticky. Nothing could be seen, and they had no altimeter, but they could tell by the feel that the ship was climbing all right. In less than 20 minutes the ship came out of the fog into clear air, which would have been a relief, except for the fact that there was no sight of ground in any direction, nothing but dense banks of clouds underneath. They had no compass and no chart-only a six-inch pocket map of Tennessee and Kentucky. Billy had planned on following the Louisville and Nashville railroad, but they couldn’t see it. The sight of the sun helped little, as there was a side to rear gale blowing, which might have been 30 miles an hour or it might have been 60. But they had no means of telling its strength or its directions, as they had no wind-drift indicator. It was afterward learned that it was over 50 miles an hour.

“They flew above the clouds, without a sight of the earth, for a couple of hours, without knowing whether their altitude was two thousand or five hundred feet. Finally, Billy called to his companion: “We ought to be about over Paris (Tennessee); I’m going to cut down and find out.” He started a tight spiral, but in less than a minute he almost jerked the plane apart, coming out it took away some branches out of the top of a tree, missed a couple of buildings by less distance than was comfortable, and found that he was squarely over the heart of Paris, Tennessee. It hadn’t been clouds he had been flying over, it was clouds and fog right down to the ground.

“Billy Brock had flown for two hours with no sight of the ground, no compass, no instruments of any kind, and with a terrible side-tail wind of unknown strength or direction. And he not only guessed, he knew, within less than a mile, exactly where he was. How did he know it? You have learned how cats know their whereabouts. Perhaps it was something like that, only more marvelous, as this was all done in the air.

“Well, Billy got his ship flattened out, and was again on his way. It wasn’t long until they left the clouds and fog, and were over Kentucky. Worry about gasoline supply advised a landing, and they landed in a stubble field at the edge of the town of Russellville. We will omit some of the details of the take-off from Russellville. In that take-off they came nearer death than at any time on the flight. It was a matter of inches several times-a short, soggy field, loggy gasoline, a nose-heavy ship, telephone wires straight ahead, a zoom over the wires that anyone would have said was impossible, a vault over some more wires and a railroad track, a gliding squash into a soft field across the track, but with enough headway to keep going and to finally climb fifteen feet in the air, but with a house straight ahead. There wasn’t time or altitude to turn, so Billy went straight for the house, and just as he came to it, he threw the ship into a vertical bank, one wing missed the chimney by not more than a couple of feet, and the other wing came that close to the ground, but they cleared the house.

“They finally gained altitude, and it was straight and clear flying over the edge of the mountain district of Kentucky. That is the country that, form the air, has nothing underneath for well over a hundred miles but mountains, forests, snake-like rivers, small clearings and intermittent small lakes and ponds. A forced landing would have meant the tree tops.

“They landed near Louisville for the night, took off the next morning in a blinding rainstorm, tried to get above the rain, but the higher they went, the more it was sleet instead of rain. They kept on toward Cincinnati, got out of the storm, then turned north, did some stunts over Springfield, and then landed on the golf course of the Springfield Country Club. They had lunch with Billy’s mother, then took to the air again, and landed on a farm just west of Urbana, where the passenger had relatives.

“Billy Brock, twenty-two years old, had resurrected a J.N.4-A out of the junk pile, and had flown it, with no instruments and with nothing but genius to guide him, in bad weather, over a wilderness country, and part of it was blind flying; then, he turned around and made the return trip, which was even worse, because the wind was against him.

“Billy Brock didn’t get overseas, because they kept him on this side. Few people have ever heard of him. The last we heard of him, about four years ago, he was taking up passengers for five dollars an hour, when he could get the passengers. He is unknown to fame, but he was one of the pathfinders in aviation. He is an unsung hero.”


Source: Urbana Daily Citizen Urbana, OH, July 19, 1945

Headline: Billy Brock, An Unsung Hero Of Early Aviation: Around-the-World Flight Ends in Japan

"In Wednesday’s installment we reprinted an article written in July, 1927 about Billy Brock’s airplane trip from Tennessee to Springfield and Urbana during the World War No.1. When that article was originally written, no news had been given out as to Billy’s plan to fly around the world. He made that world flight in the late summer of 1927, and that same Pennsylvania plant newspaper had an article about it in its issue of Oct. 12, 1927. Here is the article:

“In our issue of July the twelfth we printed an article which was entitled: ‘Unsung Heroes of the Air’. We were inspired to write that by Lindbergh’s ocean triumph. When we printed that article we had no idea that Billy Brock had intended to try what he has just done. You will remember, we wound up our article of July the twelfth by the statement that the last we heard of Billy Brock, he was taking up passengers at a modest fee.

“Well, you must have read about the around-the-world flyers, who started out to fly around the world, and who got as far as Japan-Brock and Schlee. The Brock who flew this airplane is the same Brock of whom we wrote. He is about thirty-two years old, and is a courageous, but an exact and careful flyer.

“Here is what the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said about their flight in the editorial column of August 20th, the morning after they had landed in England:

“The successful negotiation by William S. Brock and Edward Schlee of the first leg of their projected around-the-world trip by air, completing the first non-stop trans-Atlantic flight from America to England naturally raises hopes for the achievement of their entire object. They are seeking to beat the globe-circling record of twenty-eight days, fourteen hours and thirty minutes, made by Edward Evans and Linton Wells last year by utilizing steamer, railroad, automobile and airplane; Brock and Schlee, depending wholly upon their monoplane, Pride of Detroit, expect to make the trip in twenty-eight days or less. Their covering the 2,350 miles from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to the airport at Croyden, England in twenty-three hours and twenty minutes is a good start on their schedule. The extraordinary thoroughness with which this trip was planned gives a practical interest to it along with that which may be merely of the thrill type. Schlee, the backer and Brock, the pilot, had been at work on the preparations for a year. With the mapping out of their course, there was also provision over the route of fuel and service stations. The Pride of Detroit was built with the same care, and tested. It won by a large margin the Ford trophy against a field of fourteen specially prepared planes in a 4,200 mile test. The total mileage of the course in this undertaking is 22,067, with a total of 240 hours allowed for flying. However the object of the trip may be viewed, the thoroughness of the preparation for it meets the growing demand against recklessness in setting out on air journeys involving long flights over water’

“Brock and Schlee flew no further than Japan, and abandoned their trip there, partly because there was no gasoline supply at the Midway Islands, their next objective, and partly because of the hundreds of cablegrams they received begging them not to try to fly across the Pacific Ocean, including a ‘request’ from President Coolidge. They realized that after the large number of deaths in attempting ocean flights, an accident to them would retard the progress of aviation. And they were more interested in the development of aviation than they were in any personal triumph. But at least they demonstrated that hard work, studious preparation, and careful courage and determination are essentials to successful flying.”

"This is the same Billy Brock who was born in West Liberty, raised in Springfield, and who began flying before he was sixteen years old. In a later account, we will tell you something about how Billy learned to fly."


Source: Urbana Daily Citizen Urbana, OH, July 20, 1945

Headline: Billy Brock, An Unsung Hero Of Early Aviation: West Liberty Boy Began Flying When Eleven

"(EDITOR’S FOREWORD: These stories concerning the career of Billy Brock, the West Liberty boy who helped pave the way for modern aviation, were prepared by one of his close personal friends and Army air corps associates Attorney Edgar W. Tait, 403 Scioto Street. It was Tait who, as post adjutant at Park Field, Tennessee during World War I, awarded Brock the lieutenant’s commission which transformed him from a civilian army flying instructor to a full fledged military pilot. The commission was awarded at Wright Field.

"Since then the two men maintained a close personal friendship visiting one another whenever possible. Their last meeting was in Pittsburgh shortly before Brock’s death.

"In the past three articles, we have written about Billy Brock of West Liberty and Springfield. We would like to tell you something of this boy’s craving urge to fly, and of his flying education. Some of these facts were proddingly picked out from Billy, for he was not much of a talker about himself. Some of this story was furnished by others who knew him. Here is the story:

"The story starts at West Liberty, when Billy was eleven years old. The Wright Brothers had made their Kitty Hawk flight a few years before. They had conducted their experiments at an historic place between Springfield and Dayton. That part of Ohio was already air-conscious, and Billy began to think of nothing but flying. He started to work, building a pair of wings. He used whatever sticks he could pick up around the neighborhood. He managed to beg a couple of old sheets from his mother, for the wing fabric. Finally, the wings suited him. He strapped them onto his arms, climbed to the top of his father’s barn, and jumped off. The experiment was not entirely a success. He glided a few rods, the wings smashed on the landing, but he broke no bones.

"Four years later, when he was fifteen years old, Billy heard about Glenn Curtiss’ flying school at Hammondsport, New York. He had a little money saved, just enough to pay his railroad fare there, so off he started for Hammondsport. He walked into Glenn Curtiss’ office, and said he had come to learn to fly. Glenn Curtiss asked him how old he was and he replied, “Eighteen.” He was well developed for his age, so he got away with that. Then Curtiss said: “The tuition will be $150.” Billy said: “Why I never thought about you charging for teaching, and I don’t have that much money.” Curtiss said: “How much do you have?” and Billy answered, “Sixty-five cents.” Curtiss said: “Well, you had better write to your folks for enough money to get home. In the meantime, we can’t let you starve. I’ll let you help the cook in the kitchen, to pay for your board until you hear from your folks.”

"So, Billy went to work in the kitchen. But it was okay for Billy to make friends, and he was soon chummy with the flying instructors. He coaxed one of the instructors to take him up, and before they had landed, Billy was getting some flying instruction. He went up every day, and in less than a week he was soloing-all unknown to Glenn Curtiss. Not satisfied with this, Billy put in another week of learning every stunt the instructor knew. Finally, the instructor said, “Kid, you are as good as I am.”

"Then, Billy walked into Glenn Curtiss’ office again-the only time he had been there since his first arrival visit. He had made a point of keeping out of Curtiss’ way. Curtiss looked up from his desk, and said: “What, are you still here? Well, what do you want?” and Billy replied: “I want a job as an instructor.” A queer, startled look appeared on Curtiss’ face, and Billy said: “No, I’m not crazy. One of the instructors has taught me. Come out and watch me.” Curtiss asked the instructor, and he said: “Yes, I guess I shouldn’t have done it behind your back. But the boy is a born flyer. He is good.” So, Billy took the ship up, put it through its paces, spun it, looped it, did every stunt that was then known, and finally made a perfect landing. Curtiss said: “Take me up and do it all over again.” When they landed, Billy Said: “Mr. Curtiss, do I get the job?” and Glenn Curtiss replied: “You do.”

"So, in the year 1912, at the age of 15 years old (although he stuck to his 18 years of age story), Billy became a flying instructor. He continued as an instructor and stunt flyer until we go into the war in 1917, when he became an army flying instructor. There, his finished students were as many as those turned out by any other instructor, and when he said they were ready for their wings, they were ready and they were good.

"We have told, in previous articles, about Billy’s career after the war, how he barnstormed, took up passengers, instructed, and finally flew across the Atlantic, across Europe and Asia, to Japan. In the issue of March 29, 1928 of the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, Havey Boyle, sports writer and columnist wrote the following:

“He is between 35 and 40, of medium height, and inclined to heaviness. His hair shows a streak or so of gray. A short mustache is becoming. His eyes are clear blue. He achieves neatness in dress without showing any signs of study in this regard. He has a naturalness-a mixture of justifiable pride and becoming modesty. His name is Billy Brock-and all he did was to fly across the ocean with a partner-Eddie Schlee. You remember how we read of their hop-off, of the anxious while they rode through the night through the fog and ice, and how at last they landed safely on the other side.

“Billy Brock was in Pittsburgh to attend the airplane show. He is now a salesman, selling the kind of ship he and Schlee used in making their historic flight. I have been close (I mean close in the sense of feet and inches) to such gentlemen as Dempsey, Ruth, and Tunney and a few others, but I never got quite the emotional thrill from such propinquity as I got out of studying and talking a few moments with this youngish Billy Brock, who defied death successfully in a flight across the ocean.

“By now his story is an old one. He took off when three other planes were making ready. Two of those planes and their occupants were lost. The third didn’t get very far before it was forced to land, a failure. There were moments, Mr. Brock said the other evening, when he couldn’t help but feel that the venture was going to lose-those periods when there was nothing but ice and fog to cut through. But it was not his story, so much as the fact that here was a man in good health who had stepped into a plane to take a ride with death. I thought, too, as he talked, of how many, many centuries from now his name and picture will be in the history books and encyclopedia. There is a kick to being so close to a man of-consider this-timeless and endless fame.

"So wrote Havey Boyle, sixteen years ago.

"Billy was never injured in flying, nor was any of his passengers. He never had a crack-up that cost more than a ripped wing or a splintered landing gear. Army officers, up until the time of his death, said Billy was the most careful, the safest, the most scientific, and yet, when necessity required, the most daring flyers our nation had yet produced.

"Billy died of cancer a little more than twelve years ago [in 1932]. He was flying until a month before his death."

A final photograph of Brock and Schlee's global flight Stinson , courtesy of Guest Editor Bob Woodling, is below. The registration number is distinct. The exact date and location are unknown.

Stinson SM-1 NC857, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Woodling)


Dossier 2.1.56

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 06/13/05 REVISED: 07/07/05, 01/16/06, 01/18/06, 03/27/06, 12/31/07, 08/29/08, 02/02/10, 03/21/14, 06/25/14, 09/12/14, 09/13/15, 07/13/17, 10/05/19

The Register

This may be the first time this image has seen the light of day since 1927, at least on a global basis. A check of NASM photo databases shows no match. Many thanks to M.H. and his father, who served in the late 20s with the RAF in Iraq.

M.H. says about the image and of his father's service in Iraq:

"I'm just very pleased that the image will be put to good use and possibly add to people's enjoyment of your site. It was just a happy chance that my father happened to be in Iraq at that moment in time....

"Would you believe that his role was driving an armoured car from Basra to Baghdad, guarding camel caravans against attacks from, what he called, raiding bandits. As I said before 'history repeats itself''.
Anyway, best of luck with your web site. Keep history alive - it is important. It is a pity , though, that we don't learn from it !"


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