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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.


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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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


There is no biographical file for pilot Collings in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC.


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John Collings, Ca. 1929 (Source: TAT)
John Collings, Ca. 1929 (Source: TAT)

John Collings landed once at Tucson, Saturday, September 15, 1928 at 4:30PM. He carried two passengers, his wife, and H.L. Russell. Based at Detroit, MI, they arrived eastbound from Los Angeles, CA headed for Detroit. They remained overnight and departed the next morning at 6:30AM in the Ford trimotor NC1102. Please direct your browser to the link for the airplane to learn that this flight was probably under the auspices of Maddux Air Lines.

John Collings was born on April 6, 1903 at Saltsville, VA. He learned to fly in the Army 1922-25. Larry Fritz was a classmate.  He joined the Ford Motor Company as test pilot and instructor from 1925-28 and was the chief test pilot when Fritz resigned and went with Maddux in mid-1927. 

On November 17, 1928 Collings joined with Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT) which was still in the formative stage.  Portrait, left, from the June 1, 1929 issue of the Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT) Plane Talk.

TAT was founded in 1928, and merged with Western Air Express (which itself had merged Standard Air Lines) to later become Transcontinental and Western Air (TWA). Collings recruited many copilots from the Army who started their careers with TAT and became captains for TWA.  The complete Plane Talk is downloadable at the link (PDF 2.9Mb). This is an historic issue, because it documents with photographs all the initial pilots hired on for TAT's inaugural. Among Register pilots cited in the issue are Eddie Bellande, John Guglielmetti, Dean Burford, Max Cornwell, Moye Stephens and F.V. Tompkins.

Collings moved up in the TWA organization. From 1929 to 1939 he was the Superintendent of the Eastern region for TWA and until 1942, when he became VP-Operations, was the System Operations Superintendent, based at Kansas City.  A photograph of Collings in pilot uniform is at the link.

He wrote an article for the February, 1939 issue of Popular Aviation magazine. The article is at the link (PDF 1.5mB). Titled, "Farewell, Tin Goose," Collings lamented, in a sentimental way, the passing of that rugged airliner from modern aeronautics. "Tin Goose" was a nickname for the Ford trimotor airliner. Note that he flew Ford NC1102 thru Tucson in 1928. You'll enjoy how he described the procedure for fueling a Ford under primitive conditions.

In the late 1940s, Collings appeared in magazine advertisements for Victor adding machines, adding the "dependability" cachet of TWA to the adding machines of Victor. He was featured in the April, 1944 issue of TWA Skyliner. You can download the feature article at the link.

From the TWA Skyliner (a TWA employee's newsletter) of November 26, 1979, the photo below from the 1940s shows a TWA Lockheed Constellation flight crew. They stand in front of the starboard landing gear of the Constellation. Collings is at far right. An added feature of this image is that Register pilot Bob Buck stands third from left.

John Collings (R), Lockheed Constellation Delilvery, 1940s (Source: TWA Skyliner)
John Collings (R), Lockheed Constellation Delilvery, 1940s (Source: TWA Skyliner)

From 1951 until 1955 he was Executive VP of TWA.  Below, VP duties at the ground-breaking for the new TWA overhaul facility at the Platte County (MO) Airport. Collings is at the far left.

John Collings (L), Platte County, MO, 1954 (Source: TWA Skyliner)
John Collings (L), Platte County, MO, 1954 (Source: TWA Skyliner)

Collings' role as VP had its light side, as shown in this letter from one of his pilots. Collings also served on the Board of Directors from 1942 to 1959, and was often the acting President of the company, pending assignments.

Surprisingly, Collings has no biographical file at the Smithsonian. He does, however, have a reasonable Web presence, with over 1,000 Google hits for "John Collings +TWA" as of the upload date of this page.


THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 12/25/11 REVISED: 05/21/12, 01/06/16

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