Pilot Eyes

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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.


Some of this information comes from the biographical files, CC-015500-01, CC-015500-02, CC-015500-03, for pilot Caldwell reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC.


"Plane Dives into Lake; Pilot Lost". MODESTO NEWS-HERALD, August 14, 1929.


Books and other publications by pilot Caldwell:

1943. Air Power and Total War. COWARD-MCCANN INC, New York. (also published in The Nation. Volume: 157 • Issue #: 0005 • Date: July 31, 1943.

1947. Henry Ford. Julian Messner, NY.

“The US Air Force, 1909–1948,” Aero Digest, September 1948, 70. 75.

“The Return of General Douhet,” Aero Digest, July 1949, 36–37, 90–92.

"A Military Commentary: The Navy's Role in Strategic Bombing," American Aviation 17, no. 11 (26 October 1953): 54, 56.

"The Man on the Flying Trapeze," Aero Digest 27 (Oct. 1935): 20.


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Cy Caldwell, ca. 1940s


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 Tour.

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 in 1929.

Postal Cachet, October 19, 1927 (Source: Staines)
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)
Postal Cachet, May 10,1930 (Source: Kranz)



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.



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.

Aero Digest, October 1935

He was associate editor of Aero Digest, one of the premier outlets for aviation subjects during the Golden Age.

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 manufacturer's news.

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.


Dossier 2.1.61

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

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


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 a 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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