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Some of this information comes from the biographical file for pilot Brown, CB-831280-20, 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. ISBN 978-0-9843074-0-1.



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. ISBN 978-0-9843074-2-5.


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The 1920 U.S. Census lists Harold Brown, aged 16, living with his parents, two sisters and a brother at Oakland, CA. He was listed as being in school. His father was a carpenter. I have no information about his next ten years. If you can help fill in the blanks, please let me KNOW.

Two Alameda county residents both in the air service, are among 54  second lieutenants just appointed in the regular army from the enlisted ranks and civilian life, according to dispatches received here from Washington.

Harold F. Brown, 22, son of Mrs. H. O. Brown, 2246 Eighty-Sixth Avenue, was commissioned in the air service following his graduation as honor man with a class at Kelly Field, Texas. Brown, a former student at McClymonds high school here, left school a few weeks before graduation when he was appointed to West Point. He was unable
to continue his training there and returned to Oakland, where he enlisted in the air corps and was sent to Kelly Field for training. Of his class of 100 men only seven finished and Brown held the highest rating among these. During his high school days Brown was lieutenant colonel of the R. O. T. C.

Charles B Overacker Jr. of Niles, a graduate of the Niles schools, the Washington township high school in Centerville and the University of
California, was awarded a flying course by the government for his record with the reserve corps and was made an instructor at Rockwell Field, North Island. Last year he was appointed a lieutenant and sent to Fort Worth, Tex., for final

Headlined AVIATORS WIN OFFICERS' RANK, Harold Brown appeared in the Oakland Tribune of October 8, 1927, left, with a fresh appointment as second lieutenant. The article states that he left high school early to enroll at West Point, which he had to abandon. Upon return to the west he was commissioned in the air service at Kelly Field, TX.

Oakland Tribune, October 8, 1927, Overacker (Top) and Brown (Source: Woodling)
Oakland Tribune, October 8, 1927, Overacker (Top) and Brown (Source: Woodling)

Note mention of Register pilot Charles B. Overacker. The photograph accompanying the article is at right. Brown is at the bottom.

Second Lieutenant Harold F. Brown landed at Tucson Wednesday, May 16, 1928 at 6:15 PM. He carried a single passenger, a Corporal Feeney, in the Douglas O-2, 25-339. Based at San Francisco, CA, Crissy Field, they arrived at Tucson from San Diego, CA, Rockwell Field. They did not list a final destination. They remained overnight, departing next morning at 6:15.



Seattle (WA) Times, April 24, 1929 (Source: Woodling)
Seattle (WA) Times, April 24, 1929 (Source: Woodling)



About a year later, in April, 1929 at Los Angeles, Brown endured and accident with his observer on board. The Seattle (WA) Times of April 24, 1929, left, documents the conditions and the outcomes. Despite his considerable skills in getting the airplane on the ground, this was a very lucky result for a situation that could have had so much go wrong.




A photograph of the accident site was published a week later in the Danville (VA) Bee of Tuesday, April 30, 1929, below.

Danville (VA) Bee, April 30, 1929 (Source: Woodling)
Danville (VA) Bee, April 30, 1929 (Source: Woodling)

Coincidentally, he resigned his commission August 27, 1929. I don't know if this was the result of his accident. And if his Army accident wasn't enough, he was involved in a civilian accident with a Avro Avian on November 26, 1929 at Los Angeles. The airplane nosed over on takeoff because the right wheel collapsed allowing the axle to drag. There is no record of injuries to Brown or his passenger, Gene Bradley.

In October, 1929, we find Brown associated with a Register airplane, the Monocoupe Model 70, NC6755. In 1929, this airplane was used as a trainer and Brown was a flight instructor for William B. Clayton (not a Register pilot). Please direct your browser to the link for the airplane to view Clayton's pilot log that documents Brown's role as his flight instructor. We also learn that Brown's commercial pilot license was #3448, and that he worked for Whittier Airways Co. out of the "Los Angeles East Side Airport," which was at Riverside, CA.

Interestingly, during November, 1929, we find Brown landing as a civilian pilot at Clover Field. The 1930 U.S. Census places him in an apartment at 120 North Maple Ave., Montebello, CA. He paid $45/month rent. He was employed as an "Airport Manager," although the airport was not specified. Perhaps it was the "Los Angeles East Side Airport." His marital status was listed as divorced.

Almost two years after he landed at Tucson, Brown was involved in a feat of life saving that appears herculean today. His actions were published in at least one contemporary magazine, Modern Mechanics & Invention, below.

Modern Mechanics & Invention, March, 1930 (Source: Web)
Modern Mechanics & Invention, March, 1930 (Source: Web)

His title is given as lieutenant in the article, even though he had resigned from the Army seven months earlier.

Modern Mechanics & Invention, March, 1930 (Source: Web)
Modern Mechanics & Invention, March, 1930 (Source: Web)

In 1935, he was involved in a mission of mercy carrying food by air to isolated miners in the Sierra Mountains. Below, from the Oakland Tribune of March 17, 1935, is a description of the mission.

Rescue Mission, Oakland Tribune, March 17, 1935 (Source: Woodling)
Rescue Mission, Oakland Tribune, March 17, 1935 (Source: Woodling)

Th airplane is a Fokker Super Universal. The insignia on the side could be that of the USMC. Walter F. Kimball was a TWA pilot killed in a USMC plane crash in 1943.

At some point before 1935 Brown went back into the military, joining the Marine Corps Reserve. The U.S. Census for 1940 lists him as a resident of the U.S. Naval Air Station at Pensacola, living in the Officer's Quarters. His marital status was listed as divorced.

He rose through the ranks in the Marine Corps Reserve, earning full colonel on January 1, 1951. He retired from the Corps in July, 1961. I have no record of his service after he joined the Marine Corps. If you can help, please let me KNOW.

Harold Brown was born January 17, 1905. He passed away relatively young on July 12, 1966. I have no record of the reason for his passing. Below is his obituary from the Oakland (CA) Tribune of Friday, July 15, 1966. It appears some "facts" have been changed compared to the other news stories above. He is buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno CA.

Col. Brown Dies; Early Day Flier

Death has claimed Col Harold Frederick Brown (USMC, Ret), an Oakland boy who became one of the intrepid breed of pioneer aviators who gave flying its first luster of adventure. Colonel Brown, known to intimates as "Brownie," died Tuesday at Playa del Rey, Los Angeles County. His career went from aviation's early days to his final project as engineer with the Corps of Army Engineers to help man's spectacular space race to the moon. Unforgettable was the time Brown took up a passenger secretly contemplating suicide, who, when the plane was in the air, jumped out only to have Brown scoop him up from midair on the plane's wings and land him safely. He was 61 when he died. His Father, Harry Brown, survived him at 1815 Willow St, in Alameda.  He also leaves three children. Brown left Oakland's McClymonds High School and enlisted in the Army Air Corps, graduating highest in his training class  at Kelly Field, Tex.  From then on his exploits added chapters to aviation's book of heroes. He was an Army pilot in 1929 when, flying over Los Angeles, the gas line of his plane broke and he stayed with the craft rather than crash it into the residential district. He guided it onto a power line where it—and he—hung precariously until rescued. Colonel Brown was also an aerial mailman, flying The Tribune from Oakland to Sacramento daily. In 1935, while in the U.S. Marine Corps reserve, he was one of three pilots who risked their lives to fly supplies to 15 miners snowbound in the Sierra for two weeks. Services are set for tomorrow at 1 p m at Forest Lawn in Glendale.



THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 04/11/12 REVISED: 09/17/15

The Register

I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Brown and his airplane to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.


Thanks to site visitor Bob Woodling for help researching this page.


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.


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