Pilot Eyes

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This information comes from the biographical file for pilot Clevenger, CC-327500-01, reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum, 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.


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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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.


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.


Reinhold, Ruth. 1982. Sky Pioneering: Arizona in Aviation History. U. of Arizona Press. Tucson, AZ. 232 pp.

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Cloyd Peart Clevenger was born in Rumsey, CA February 14, 1898. He was educated through high school. He learned to fly at March Field, CA in 1918 and held commercial pilot certificate number 141 (a pretty low number).

Cloyd Clevenger, ca. 1927

He scrambled from flying job to flying job during the teens, 20s and 30s, stopping long enough to become 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Army Air Corps, 1918-19.

For example, he built and flew gliders from 1910-12 and barnstormed in 1919 after his time in the U.S. Army. In 1921 he was a pilot for the Walter Varney Flying Circus (covering 16 states in that year alone). From 1922-23 he was a demonstrator, instructor and skywriter; 1924-25 a pilot for the Gates Circus.

In 1926 he was a demonstrator and instructor for Robertson Aircraft, St. Louis, MO. During 1927-28 he was chief pilot for the Alexander Aircraft Factory, Colorado Springs; pilot in the For National Air Tours 1927-28, and pilot for Garland Aircraft, Tulsa, OK in 1929.

Image, right, of Clevenger in 1927 is from the collection of Ruth Richter Holden and daughter Susan Holden Walsh. Their Web site about Paul Richter can be found here. Water damage on left margin of image.

His flight on July 10, 1928 that brought him to Tucson was as part of the 1928 National Air Tour. He was flying NC6505, a brand new Alexander Eaglerock A-4, S/N 564 with Hispano-Suiza engine. He carried one unidentified passenger. See the links for a pictures of the airplane. His home base was Denver, CO, indicative of his employment with Alexander Aircraft at the time. They placed 18th in the 6,300 mile Tour that year.

About the time he was chief pilot for Alexander Aircraft, he authored a 48-page manual on practical flying entitled Modern Flight. It was published by Alexander Industries. Image, below, from the Hudgin Family Collection.

Modern Flight, 1927


Cloyd Clevenger, Ferry Pilot, 1940s (Source: SDAM)


In 1930 he was in Mexico. He operated Clevenger Flying School in Mexico City. He was an instructor and salesman from1931-32, and pilot for Mexican Airlines 1932-35. Back in the U.S., he was ferry pilot for Charles Babb and skywriter in Los Angeles in 1936. Back in Mexico, he was pilot for the Spanish Embassy in 1937. He performed aerial mapping for Pan American Aerial Surveys in Mississippi in 1938. Also in 1938 he was jailed for a year and a day on charges of violating the United States Neutrality Act by smuggling planes out of the country for use in the Spanish Civil War.

In 1939 he was a skywriter for Skywriting Corpration in New York City; in 1940 instructor for Deane Flying School, NYC; in 1941 instructor for San Marcos Flying Service, San Marcos, TX. When WWII opened, he became director of flying, Air Corps Training Detachment, Ballinger, TX. He also ferried planes from the U.S. to England for the RAF. The photograph, left, is signed to his friend and fellow Register pilot Charles Babb. I don't know about you, but I'm exhausted now, just from going through his resume. Can we deduce anything at this point about his attention span?


He estimated he had flown about 1.3 million miles in his career. He moved to Mexico permanently in 1957. Here's a short biography from this link:

"Cloyd P. Clevenger began flying gliders as a high school boy in Oakland, California. He was an instructor at March Field in the World War, then for the next forty years he had every kind of flying job imaginable: teacher and text writer, stunt man, skywriter, transport pilot in World War II. He flew in the 1927 and 1928 tours, retired a long time later in Mexico, died in 1964, when he was sixty-six. Clev was a gay and charming fellow, beloved by women, liked by men; a great trial to loyal friends who were often called upon to bail him out of “one damfool scrape after another.” Veteran air mail pilot Leon Cuddeback recalled a ride with Clev during an air show in the early days at the Varney Field, near San Francisco. The ride ended with a very low pass across the field, with Clevenger holding the ship in a very difficult “knife-edge vertical” bank, followed by a slow-roll. Leon had no safety belt and back on the ground, still frightened and mad he offered to give Clev the thrashing he deserved.
“Well gee, I thought you’d bear with me just this once,” Clev replied, smiling. “What would all those
spectators have thought if I’d just come in and made a plain ordinary landing, like everyone else? How’d they know who it was flying the ship?”"

His impulsiveness shines through.

Dossier 2.1.75


The Register
Clevenger's Eyes

To be fair, pilot Clevenger, like many of his vocation, was faced with a difficult economic picture during the 1930s. Part of what can be perceived as job-hopping was undoubtedly an effect of the Great Depression.

Ruth Reinhold (reference, left sidebar) summarized that environment nicely (p. 184):

"The Depression continued to inflict deep wounds on the aviation industry. Pilots changed jobs, airlines changed schedules and cut fares, and operators switched bases so rapidly that it was impossible to keep any accurate records. However, people still frequented the fields. For the unemployed any airport promised an economical and rewarding place to spend a few hours. There was always the chance of seeing a celebrity -- or an accident. A Coke cost only a nickel and most airports had penny candy or gum machines. One could spend a frugal afternoon with exciting possibilities, the ultimate being an invitation for a free ride."

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