PILOT TURNED WRITER
Pilot Caldwell was born in Bridgetown,
Nova Scotia, January 13, 1892. He was educated through secondary
level, then worked from 1908-14 at the Bank of Nova Scotia,
and was a theatrical manager from 1914-15.
He taught himself
to fly in 1915 in an airplane he bought with his own money,
and became an exhibition flyer in the New England states1915-1916.
He joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1916.
During WWI, he was a Captain
in the Royal Flying Corps, later rechristened the Royal
Air Force, and for months flew out of France into Germany
with Night Bombing Squadron No. 102.
After the war, he remained in Germany with the Army of Occupation.
He came back to Canada to fly for the Canadian Air Board,
and on forest fire patrols, which included flying Mounties
and Forest Reserve Officers to wilderness outposts in northern
Manitoba and Ontario. He married Myrle Mable Rumble on December
25, 1920 (Merry Christmas!).
In 1922 he came to the U.S. and became a test pilot for
the Glenn L. Martin Company in Cleveland, OH. He tested night
mail planes and torpedo-carrying planes built for the Navy.
Then he sold airplanes, began writing for aviation magazines
and, in 1927, pioneered the first commercial airline in the
West Indies, the West Indian Express, which then became part
of the Pan-American Airways system.
Caldwell competed in the Ford Reliability Tour of 1925 flying
a Martin Commercial Model 70 (tour #24). He was employed
by the Martin company at the time. Refer to pages 13 and
20 of this link for
further information. He did not visit Tucson during this
On October 18, 1927, Caldwell flew the first mail under
Pan-Am's contract with the government. That was from Key
West to Havana, which constituted the entire Pan-Am system
in 1927. Below, shared by site visitor Jeff Staines, is a postal cachet signed by Caldwell that dates from this period. Caldwell became a U.S. citizen
Postal Cachet, October 19, 1927 (Source: Staines)
From site visitor Joe Kranz, the cachet below is dated May 10, 1930.
Postal Cachet, May 10,1930 (Source: Kranz)
VISITS TO TUCSON
Caldwell came to the Davis-Monthan Airfield twice, on September
7, 1928 and on September 17, 1928. Both times he was flying
the same airplane, a Fairchild NC6705.
Both times he carried passengers, including his wife. Based at Cleveland, OH, their
itineraries were Los
Angeles, CA to El Paso, TX. (westbound on the 7th; eastbound on the 17th). The probablility is high that they were flying to and from the National Air Races that were held in Los Angeles from September 8-16 that year.
WRITER & EDITOR
Although he was a prolific
producer of stories and articles, and he was a frequent contributor
to aviation magazines in the 20s, he quit flying
in 1930 to devote full time to writing. He is reputed to
have had a "mellow humor"
that was universally enjoyed. Some examples of his writing are cited in the left sidebar.
As an example of his humor,
the following excerpt from an article, Flying "Guyed" about
Boston, he wrote in Aviation,
Feb. 15, 1926.
During Prohibition, the
waters around Boston Harbor were filled with bootleggers
and enforcement officers:
|"One of the great sights in Boston… is
to watch enforcement officers chase the bootleggers
in speed boats. Of course the booties have the
fastest boats. …Usually the crews get
to shore and step into the first street, and of course
from that moment all trace of them is lost. No man
has ever been able to follow anyone through Boston
streets. One turn of the road, and the pursued is gone
forever. Even hotels have been known to vanish
in the maze of crooked streets. I walked one
block from my hotel, and when I came back it was gone. I
walked for hours after that, searching for it everywhere. The
worst of it was, I had forgotten the name of it, so
couldn't go to it in a taxi. I couldn't even remember
what it looked like, except that it was brick. I
got a taxi and told the driver to show me a collection
of brick hotels, so I could pick mine out. ... He absolutely
shrieked with amusement when he finally found the right
one, and charged me $4.65."
Fairly benign by today's standards, but it probably got
a few chuckles back then.
He was associate editor of Aero Digest, one
of the premier outlets for aviation subjects during the Golden
It was a monthly magazine of the aviation
industry. In the 1920s it was entitled Aero Digest:
The Magazine of the Air with typically 72-150 large
format pages each, but during the 30s it was called Aero
Digest Including Aviation Engineering.
Each issue contained
a number of feature articles plus a number of regular columns
including: Digest of the News; Air Transportation; At the
Airports; Private Flying; Washingtonia; The Air Services;
About People; School Activities; Financial Notes; Coming
Events; Reviews of Books etc. Aviation Engineering appeared
as a pull-out supplement, concentrating on the latest technical
innovations and techniques, aircraft design features and
Early 1940s era issues had 230-270 large
format pages each, but many of these pages were advertising.
Postwar issues typically comprised 136 large format pages,
with hundreds of advertisements. It ceased publication in the 1950s.
Image, right, is a cover of Aero Digest Including Aviation
Engineering from your
Webmaster's collection. Two Vought SBU-1 700 HP Pratt & Whitney
scout bombers grace the cover. It cost 35-cents new in 1935.
It cost $17.00 when I bought it in 2003. This issue contains
on page 84 a general department entitled "PersonAIRlities",
written by, you guessed it, the mellow humorist Cy Caldwell. According to two sources, a site visitor and his grandson, Caldwell passed away May 4, 1979.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 03/13/06 REVISED: 04/14/08, 02/23/09, 02/15/11, 06/28/11, 07/30/13, 05/05/14, 09/22/15