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Some of this information comes from the biographical file for pilot Cosgrove, CC-647000-01, reviewed by me 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, while supplies last.

---o0o--- Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of 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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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.


Tucson Star. July 29,1928.

Cosgrove, C. Burton. 1974. Fantasy in Flight: Man's Early Attempts to Fly 1500 BC to 1900 AD. Compiled by D.D. Hatfield. Self-published book.

Whitcomb. Edgar D. 1995.
On Celestial Wings. ISBN 1-58566-003-5. Available as a PDF book online.


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PLEASE NOTE: Besides this biographical page, an extensive collection of images taken and owned by C.B. Cosgrove, Jr. is available for your view on this website at this link:


The information that follows was acquired during my meeting with Cosgrove's son, C.B. Cosgrove, III during October 2006. For no other pilot of the Davis-Monthan Register do we see such complete life images and career documentation as we do for pilot Cosgrove. Thanks to C.B. Cosgrove, III for sharing these intimate views of his father's life.

We should be alert, however, to the fact that ALL Register pilots and passengers probably had equally interesting lives. If you are reading this and have information relevant to any of them, please let me know.

Below, C.B. Cosgrove, Jr. at age 2. His biography continues following the image.

Cornelius Burton Cosgrove, Jr. 1908, age 2
C.B. Cosgrove, Age 2

During my visit his son shared the following biographical eulogy, written by him on the occasion of his father's death at age 93. I have added links to relevant news articles which were also shared with us by Burt, III.

"C.B. 'Burt' Cosgrove

8 February 1906 - 7 August 1999

C.B. Cosgrove, Jr. ca. 1928
C.B. Cosgrove, Jr. ca. 1928

"Col. C.B. 'Burt' Cosgrove, a member of a pioneer New Mexico family and one of the state's first aviators died Saturday, August 7. He was 93. Cosgrove made his first solo flight at the age of 15 in a Curtiss 'Jenny' (JN-4D) bi-plane that he had assembled himself. While still in his early twenties, he went on to become the first director of the Tucson airport, where he worked with Col. Charles Lindbergh setting up the nation's first transcontinental airline route. After beginning active duty with the U.S. Air Corps in the mid-1930's, Cosgrove piloted the the experimental B-17 bomber and worked with General 'Gene' Eubank to organize the famed 19th Bombardment Group which trained at Albuquerque's Kirtland Field.

"In 1941 he helped set up a bomber squadron to protect the American Commonwealth of the Philippines and was at Clark Field when it was bombed on Pearl Harbor Day. in the early years of World War II Colonel Cosgrove flew bombing missions in the Pacific. When the Philippines were occupied by the Japanese, he and General Eubank and other key officers were ordered to evacuate. After his plane was destroyed, he fought his way overland through jungle terrain and enemy-controlled sea-lanes eventually making his way to safety in Australia. In recognition of his leadership in combat Colonel Cosgrove was awarded the Silver Star, one of the nation's highest military decorations.

C.B. Cosgrove, Jr. ca. 1933
C.B. Cosgrove, Jr. ca. 1933

"Burt Cosgrove was born in 1906 in Atchison, Kansas, where perhaps, prophetically, the Cosgroves were neighbors to the family of pilot Amelia Earhart. In 1907 Cosgrove Sr. moved with his wife and year-old son to New Mexico. They settled near relatives in Silver City. From earliest childhood Burt worked alongside his parents, well-known Southwest archaeologists Cornelius Burton Cosgrove and Harriet 'Hattie' Silliman Cosgrove, who -- in affiliation with the Harvard University Peabody Museum -- supervised the excavation of the historic Mimbres villages of southwestern New Mexico.

"Burt attended New Mexico Military Institute and went on to the University of Arizona where he received a degree in archaeology. Cosgrove supervised significant projects at Casa Grande National Monument and the Petrified Forest in Arizona before giving up an already notable career in archaeology to pursue his love of flying. In 1931 he married Mildred Barbara Tuthill [PDF download 7.54MB] who became a pilot. Lifelong international travelers, the couple spent the first year of their married life in Peking, where Mildred is believed to have been the first woman pilot to fly in China [PDF downlad 3.6MB].

"After the evacuation of the Philippines, Colonel Cosgrove was stationed at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, where he helped recruit many of the scientists and military officers who worked on the atomic bomb project. At war's end, he served as commander of the Santa Monica Air Force Redistribution Center under the direct command of General 'Hap' Arnold, chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, and later served on

C.B. Cosgrove, Jr. ca. 1948
C.B. Cosgrove ca. 1948

the Inspector General's staff overseeing reconstruction of much of war-ravaged Europe.

"Cosgrove throughout his career was associated with movie projects, which began with his role taxiing planes in California for Howard Hughes' film 'Hell's Angels'. He later flew a B-17 bomber that was featured in the 1941 movie 'They Wanted Wings'. In the late 1940s Colonel Cosgrove was base commander at Burbank Field where he produced training films for the Air Force. Tyrone Power and Gary Cooper were among the early film actors who worked with him and who remained friends. The Cosgroves had one son, Burt III who accompanied them on many of their world travels. Colonel Cosgrove continued to fly up until the time of his retirement in 1956.

"After retirement, the Cosgroves settled in Albuquerque. New Mexico had been a family home since the mid-nineteenth century. Colonel Cosgrove continued to travel throughout his retirement years, returning to China, and traveling to Tibet in 1983 where he had not been allowed access on his first visit to China in 1931. Colonel Cosgrove is survived by his son, retired Judge Burt Cosgrove."

C.B. Cosgrove, Jr. age 90
C.B. Cosgrove, Jr. age 90


Cosgrove's tenure as manager of the Davis-Monthan Airfield lasted from 1928 to 1932. Budget and other issues early in the Great Depression had him leave and come back to his position. This series of news articles (PDF download 10.5MB) summarizes some of the issues (NOTE WELL: the journalism of the era was less politically correct than it is today, and you will find racial references in two of these articles that wouldn't appear nowadays).

Image, right, of two mature eagles.

Probably the most frightful flight of Cosgrove's life came late in his military career. The was tasked in the mid-1950s with flying a photographer over the Grand Canyon in a DC-3. The photographer, not satisfied with taking pictures through the windows, without thinking opened the side door.

The slip stream ripped the door from the fuselage and it proceeded aft to impact the left horizontal stabilizer and wrap itself firmly around it.

The horizontal stabilizer held! But, the flight and trim characteristics of the DC-3 must have been dreadful with the drag and disruption of airflow caused by the cargo door.

Cargo Door Where It's Not Supposed to Be!
DC-3 Door

The flight was aborted and the airplane and crew made it safely to an emergency landing. The spectacular image, left, shows the door firmly bent around the horizontal stabilizer, and the door frame out in the slip stream. Note that the airplane is aloft and well under control.

We wonder how fatigued Cosgrove's right leg was as he landed after fighting what was probably considerable left yaw. Surely this was an exercise in emergency trimming and differential engine control as well.

The good news is, the photographer had the presence of mind to snap this picture. The bad news is, his mind was less present in considering the effect of opening a door into what is the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane streaming along the fuselage of a DC-3.

Although there was no mention as to the fate of the photographer, he probably received some extra "training" when he reported for duty the next day.




Image, right, shows Cosgrove examining the aftermath of the cargo door striking the horizontal stabilizer. This picture gives testimony to the strength of the Douglas DC-3 design!

Notice that this is probably a "posed" photo-op, because the door is placed over the stabilizer opposite to the position it is in the image above during flight.







Image, below, of C.B. Cosgrove in 1999 shortly before his passing.

C.B. Cosgrove, Jr. age 93
C.B. Cosgrove, Jr. age 93

Below is the original biography I developed for Cosgrove based upon newspaper accounts from the Airzona Historical Society. Please refer to it for details of the aircraft Cosgrove flew to Tucson.

Indeed, his story has grown with the help of his son. We know him better now. Thanks, Burt!


What follows is the original biographical information first placed online on 01/12/06.

C.B. Cosgrove was a young entrepreneur. The Tucson Star of July 29, 1928 carries an article describing his formation, with partner H.W. Durham, of the Southwest Air Service, Inc. The Service was planned to open at the Davis-Monthan Airfield by September 1 that year. Incorporation papers for the Service were filed just a week earlier on July 21 in Phoenix.

C.B. Cosgrove, Jr.

The Tucson Star states, "The officers of the air corporation are C.B. Cosgrove [image, right, from the Star] and H.W. Durham, both former university students and residents of the city. The service is incorporated to "carry on the business of transportation by air of passengers, express, freight, mail and every kind of commodities," as well as to maintain a school and give flying instructions.

"Cosgrove, who is a member of the chamber of commerce aviation committee, is a licensed pilot, having passed his tests about nine months ago. He has been associated with flying for six years. His last job was pilot a Ryan Field, San Diego, California.

"The equipment of the service will include a hangar on the field, three air-cooled Seimens-Halske Travelair [sic] planes for student instruction, delivery of which should be made September 1; one whirlwind Travelair [sic] which will be brought to Tucson the middle of next month from the factory by Cosgrove and one OK Travelair [sic] plane which the service already has on hand. The service will also be the agency for Travelair in Arizona and New Mexico."

The "OK" Travel Air mentioned by the Star should read "OX". It was probably Travel Air NC4533 purchased the previous March by Cosgrove. It had a 90 HP Curtiss OX-5 engine. See the link for that aircraft's history. Cosgrove and Durham landed twice at Tucson in this airplane: June 11 and 25, 1928.

The Star goes on to say, "The service is incorporated for $150,000 with 6,000 shares of stock. Both of the incorporators, Cosgrove and Durham [image, left from the Star] are 23 years old, both university students (class of 1928). Although Durham has not received his license, he expects to pass his tests within a short time." Durham does not show up among the list of pilots who landed at Davis-Monthan. I do not know if he ever acquired his flying credentials.

Cosgrove flew two other airplanes to Tucson. He landed solo on October 26, 1928 flying Curtiss 6661. He signed the Register as "Bert" Cosgrove on that occasion. On April 1, 1929 he landed flying Travel Air NC6455. He carried passenger E. Bennett, arriving from Hurley, NM. Cosgrove also landed as a passenger on 9/24/1929 with pilot E.B. Christopher. He also landed as a passenger in Boeing 40, NC381 on December 12, 1929.

I couldn't find anything on Cosgrove or Durham later in their lives. This passage from the Whitcomb reference, left, mentions Cosgrove, but misspells his name as "Bert."

"On one occasion when his plane was high over the western Pacific, Saint Elmo’s fire enveloped his aircraft. That is a condition when a fiery glow develops over the exterior of the plane while in flight. It is temporary and not dangerous. Being unfamiliar with it, Berkowitz became alarmed. It alarmed Berkowitz until his pilot, Col Bert [sic] Cosgrove, explained the phenomenon to him."



Dossier: 2.1.77

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 01/12/06 REVISED: 03/22/06 11/19/06

The Register

I need images of Curtiss 6661, which was flown at the Airfield by Cosgrove. If you have any images to share, please use this FORM.

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