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There is no biographical file for pilot Cornwell 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.


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Max Cornwell, Ca. 1929 (Source: TAT)
Max Cornwell, Ca. 1929 (Source: TAT)

Max Cornwell landed once at Tucson, Monday, May 21, 1928. He was flying the Fokker F-10, NX5170. He carried five passengers whom he identified as Los Angeles Examiner reporter A.M. Rocklin, Fred Goodcell, C. Zook Sutton, fellow pilot Norman W. Potter and Florabel Muir another reporter. Their homebase was cited as "Western Air Express." They landed at 10:00AM, remained on the ground until noon, and continued westbound from El Paso, TX to Los Angeles, CA.

Cornwell has no biographical file at the Smithsonian, and his Web presence is very sparse. I have nothing about his personal or family life, or his early or later career. If you can help with information and photographs, please let me KNOW.

Undated & Unsourced News Article, Ca. May, 1928 (Source: Woodling)
Undated & Unsourced News Article, Ca. May, 1928 (Source: Woodling)

Cornwell and his passengers were on a cross-country tour to publicize the beginning of passenger service by Westerm Air Express (WAE), a precursor to Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT) and TWA. The passengers are further described in the undated and unsourced article at right. The article places the entourage in Tucson exactly on Monday, after spending the night in El Paso, TX.

Note that the article mentions that three Fokker F-10s were being flown west for WAE. Interestingly, the #3 airplane also landed at Tucson May 18th. The pilot was Hugh Wells, and the airplane was NC5358. Written in the remarks column of the Register was, "From Teterboro Airport, N.J. to Los Angeles, final destination." "California Development Association Goodwill Tour, Plane No. 3" "To San Francisco/ Western Air Express #3."

Plane #1 was piloted by Silas Morehouse, who took a route that passed through Colorado Springs, CO, but not Tucson. His biographical information is at the link, which takes you to the Peterson Field Register, Colorado Springs.

Please direct your browser to the links for Wells and NC5358 for further information about the three airplanes, pilots and passengers, and about the reception they received in California by a crowd of 1,500.

Although Cornwell signed his name in the pilot column of the Register, the article suggests that Norman Potter was also flying the airplane. I have also seen references that state that Cornwell was not a pilot. Fred Goodcell is identified as an official of WAE.

Passenger Florabel Muir (her first name is spelled wrong in the article) did not need to be bestowed credibility by stating she was the wife of a magazine writer (married to Denis A. Morrison b. Nov. 1, 1890, d. Sep. 24, 1966) until his death. Morrison wrote for the Saturday Evening Post). Muir was a well-known journalist in her own right, focusing on Hollywood and crime in Los Angeles.

Portrait of Cornwell, above, left, from the June 1, 1929 issue of the TAT internal publication, Plane Talk. The complete document is downloadable at the link (PDF 2.9Mb).

This is an historic issue of Plane Talk, worth downloading and exploring, because it documents with photographs all the initial pilots hired for TAT's inaugural routes. Among Register pilots cited are Eddie Bellande, John Guglielmetti, Dean Burford, John Collings, Moye Stephens and F.V. Tompkins.

Cornwell was the superintendent of the Western Division of TAT. As such, he coordinated the western legs of TAT’s transcontinental air/rail service. Those legs began passengers' cross-country trip that got them to the east coast in 2 days instead of 3, as rail-only travel required.

On the west-to-east schedule, passengers would board a Ford Trimotor at Los Angeles at 8:45 a.m. (PST), deplane at Clovis, NM, at 6:54 p.m. (MST) for a night rail trip to Waynoka, OK via the Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. This was followed by the eastern legs, which began with an 8-hour 8-minute Trimotor flight to Columbus, OH, then onto the Pennsylvania Railroad to arrive in New York City the next morning at 10:05. The fare was $350 one-way.

It was a heady time to hire into and work for what would become a major U.S. air carrier. This despite the Great Depression that soon would assail and cause the demise of many new, growing businesses. In all, TAT hired 38 pilots. Seventeen needed further training. Many began with fewer than 500 hours. In 1929, Captains received $500 per month; copilots, $250.


THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 07/10/12 REVISED: 03/17/13

The Register
I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Cornwell and his airplane and passengers to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.
Thanks to Guest Editor Bob Woodling for his help researching this page.
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