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Some of this information comes from the biographical file for pilot Cover, CC-719500-01, reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC.


Thanks to Guest Editor Bob Woodling for help researching this page.




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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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


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"In my opinion, no single individual in the aircraft industry has contributed more to commercial and military aircraft than Carl Cover."

Lawrence Bell, President, Bell Aircraft, 1944

Carl Cover was signed in the Tucson Register six times between 1925 and 1932. Earlier, he had excelled in the army, participating in an inspection tour run by generals Mason Patrick and William Mitchell in November 1921, aiding with the development of the Middletown, OH Air Depot in 1923, and winning an endurance contest in 1924.

According to veterans' service files at ancestry.com, Cover enlisted in the U.S. Army August 1, 1917 at Columbus, OH. He spent most of WWI as a flying instructor at Brooks Field, TX. His draft registration card is below, dated June 5, 1917.


C.A. Cover WWI Draft Registration Card, June 5, 1917 (Source: ancestry.com)
C.A. Cover WWI Draft Registration Card, June 5, 1917 (Source: ancestry.com)

As with many things, the details are in the fine print. If you look carefully at the diagonal printing at the lower left of this card, the text says, "If person is of African descent, tear off this corner." Some things change; some things remain the same.

According to the San Antonio Evening News, June 1, 1920, Cover was posted at Kelly Field. Other news articles show that he transferred to Langley Field in late 1920. He was an army pilot until 1930, then a civilian pilot flying military aircraft. He landed twice flying 25-425, a Douglas C-1 army transport, twice flying two Douglas O-2C 26-400 (passenger on one flight was Donald Douglas) and 26-418, and twice more flying an unidentified Douglas T3-D and an unidentified Coast Guard "Amphibian."

Regarding Cover's aircraft he brought through Tucson, according to Joe Baugher's site, 25-425 flew first on May 2, 1925. It was shipped to McCook Field as P394. 26-400 was written off May 10, 1930 at Alhambra, CA. And 26-418 was converted with modified controls and shipped to McCook Field as P466. Cover identified this flight as a "Delivery." His unidentified Douglas T3-D was a torpedo bomber that was evaluated and rejected by the navy.

He was on active duty from June 21, 1918 to July 1, 1920. He served with the 50th Aero Squadron (August 1917) formed in August, 1917. He also served in the 110th Aero Squadron (August-November, 1917) formed August 14, 1917. He served at Kelly Field, TX as assigned. He then attended the School if Military Aeronautics, Berkeley, CA from November 21, 1918-February 6, 1918.

Harrisburg Telegraph (PA), January 15, 1944 (Source: newspapers.com)
Harrisburg Telegraph (PA), January 15, 1944 (Source: newspapers.com)

Cover was born April 26, 1893 in Roxbury, PA. The 1900 U.S. Census, his first, placed him living with his parents in Lurgan Township, PA. His father's occupation was coded as "Blacksmith."

The 1910 U.S. Census placed him with his family at 1813 Berry Hill Street, Harrisburg, PA. He was hard to find, because his name was coded as "Cones." That address today is a vacant lot according to Google Earth. Besides his parents, Hugh A. and Helen S., he lived with three sisters and a brother. His father was a "Forger" for a "Steel Company." At 17 years old, Carl Cover was employed a an apprentice moulder, presumably in the same steel mill where his father worked. In the 1920 Census, Cover's wife Mina was living in Piedmont, CA with her sister and brother in law's family. Brother in law Owen E. Hofle was in real estate. Also in the household is Mina's brother James A. Miller, but Cover was not coded as present. The Census was recorded on January 4, 1920, and the Cover's first child, Helen, was born on July 26, 1920 in Texas. I do not know where Cover was.

Harrisburg Telegraph (PA), September 26, 1924 (Source: newspapers.com)




His mother passed away September 24,1924 as reported in the article, left, from the Harrisburg Telegraph, September 26, 1924. His father died in 1944, just months before Cover flew West (see below). His fathers obituary from the Harrisburg Telegraph (PA), January 14, 1944 is at right.

Cover had three younger sisters. I found no 1910 or 1920 Census information for him. Sometime in the late teens or early 1920s Cover married. I found no record of his marriage.



Shippensburg Chronicle, December 4, 1931 (Source: newspapers.com)


After serving thirteen years, Cover was honorably discharged from the service on February 18, 1930 in Hawaii. In an unusual move, during 1929 as a major he was then on duty at Luke Field and placed on a reserve basis. While serving in the reserves, he assisted in forming Inter-Island Airways in Hawaii. This explains (see the end of this page) his landing at Peterson Field with a Bellanca belonging to Inter-Island. Upon return from Hawaii, he took a position with the Douglas Aircraft Company.

On March 12, 1930 he appeared with his family on the S.S. Maui traveling from Honolulu to San Francisco. The 1930 Census, recorded April 17, 1930, placed Cover (age 36) living at 333 24th Street, Santa Monica, CA. This home today is nestled among many large homes. In 1930, he paid $100 per month rent. He lived with his wife Mina Jeanette (nee: Miller; 46; 1883-1953 or 55), daughter Helen M. (9; 1920-1989), son Hugh A. (3; 1926-1990) and a servant Helen Higa (19). His occupation was coded "Sales Manager" in the "Aeroplane" industry.

That industry was Douglas Aircraft Company, based at Clover Field, Santa Monica. By 1935, Cover was vice president, general manager and chief test pilot, Douglas Aircraft Co., Santa Monica, CA.

Planes he built and sold he also demonstrated and delivered, as illustrated in the article, left, from the Shippensburg Chronicle (PA) December 4, 1931. This visit with his family near the holidays was a good illustration of the perks due a Douglas company officer.


He made an historic flight on December 17, 1935 as described below from an aviation history Web site.

"17 December 1935: Douglas Aircraft Company vice president and chief test pilot Carl A. Cover made the first flight of the Douglas DST, NX14988, at Clover Field, Santa Monica, California. Also aboard were engineers Fred Stineman and Frank Coleman.

"Designed over a two year period by chief engineer Arthur Emmons Raymond and built for American Airlines, the DST, or Douglas Sleeper Transport, was the original variant of the DC-3 commercial airliner. It had 14 sleeping berths for passengers on overnight transcontinental journeys and could fly across the United States with three refueling stops. There were no prototypes built. NX14988 was a production airplane and went to American Airlines where it flew more than 17,000 hours."

When NX14988, a DC-3 model modified for sleeping, thus DST (Douglas Sleeper Transport) was commercialized as NC14988 it landed at Tucson Monday, May 4, 1936 at 11:21AM flown by Eyer "Slonny" Sloniger. Please direct your browser to the link to learn about this robust, but short-lived, airplane. Besides the DC-3 DST, Cover also flew the first flights of the DC-1, DC-2, DC-4E (1938) and DC-5 in February 1939.

Shippensburg News-Chronicle (PA), September 29, 1933 (Source: newspapers.com)



Shippensburg News-Chronicle, September 22, 1936 (Source: newspapers.com)


As role models, the Cover family were early adopters of modern passenger air transport during the 1930s. At left, the Shippensburg News-Chronicle, September 29, 1933 described an inter-city flight made by Cover and his father.

As well, thee family adopted trans-continental air travel. Cover's daughter, Helen, made a flight from Santa Monica to Pennsylvania to visit her grandfather as reported in the Shippensburg News-Chronicle (PA), September 22, 1936, right. Helen would have been 15 years old.

Harrisburg Telegraph (PA), January 11, 1938 (Source: newspapers.com)
Harrisburg Telegraph (PA), January 11, 1938 (Source: newspapers.com)





Two years later, Cover's father, Hugh, made a trans-continental flight from his home in Pennsylvania to Santa Monica to visit his three children, right. Spending the winter in Santa Monica was probably better than in Pennsylvania for the elder Cover. Both his and his granddaughter's cross-country trips could easily and comfortably have been made in the Douglas DST.





Cover's test work on behalf of Douglas made newspapers across the country. He was heavily represented in newspapers from the 1920s until his death. In 1939 Cover appeared second from right in the photograph, below, with Orville Wright at far left. The gentleman on the right was W.F. Mentzer, Chief Engineer at United Airlines. Next to Wright is race pilot Benjamin Odell Howard, who was chief test test pilot for United Airlines. Cover holds some folded papers. The airplane behind them is probably a Douglas DC-4.

Carl Cover, Second From Right, June 9, 1939 (Source: findagrave.com)
Carl Cover, Second From Right, Date Unknown (Source: findagrave.com)

The majority of his later press coverage was related to his work with Douglas as manager, test pilot and ferry pilot. For example, he tested the DC-4 as reported in the Lincoln Star (NB), June 8, 1938, below. The Douglas model is shown in the second photograph.

Lincoln Star (NB), June 8, 1938 (Source: newspapers.com)
Lincoln Star (NB), June 8, 1938 (Source: newspapers.com)

Besides flight testing, Cover was responsible for other not so pleasant duties like search and rescue. In April 1937, and American Airlines Douglas crashed in New Mexico while on an unscheduled passenger flight. The airplane was reported sighted in the Harriburg Evening News, below. Further articles published later confirmed there were no survivors.

Harrisburg Evening News (PA), April 5, 1937 (Source: newspapers.com)
Harrisburg Evening News (PA), April 5, 1937 (Source: newspapers.com)

An update on the accident appeared in the Oakland Tribune, April 8, 1937, below.

Oakland Tribune, April 8, 1937 (Source: newspapers.com)


Harrisburg Telegraph (PA), June 8, 1938 (Source: newspapers.com)
Harrisburg Telegraph (PA), June 8, 1938 (Source: newspapers.com)



Flight testing continued. The DC-4 test was also cited, below left, on the other side of the country in the Harrisburg Telegraph, June 8, 1938. This flight was such a big deal that Erik Nelson, who, in 1924, had flown another Douglas airplane around the world, came all the way down from from his job with Boeing in Seattle, WA to witness the maiden flight.

Havre Daily News (MT), February 14, 1942 (Source: newspapers.com)


With the approach of WWII, the Douglas faciility added significantly to its labor force, as described in this article, below, from the Oakland Tribune, May 28, 1940.

Oakland Tribune, May 28, 1940 (Source: newspapers.com)
Oakland Tribune, May 28, 1940 (Source: newspapers.com)

With the early involvement of Great Britain and Canada, Cover was involved in ferrying Douglas war planes to Canada for training and/or trans-shipment to England, below, from the Albuquerque Journal.

Albuqueque Journal, January 5, 1941 (Source: newspapers.com)
Albuqueque Journal, January 5, 1941 (Source: newspapers.com)

The reapplication of commercial aircraft to military models is nicely juxtasposed by the article above right from the Havre Daily News (MT), February 14, 1942. The Douglas DC-4 was not the only civil aircraft appropriated by the military as WWII developed.

Indeed, Cover was called into the army near the end of the war as a colonel. For about a year of active duty with the air force, Cover was in charge of the army's modification program on all military aircraft. With such modification, aircraft were given last-minute changes to prepare them for various war theaters.








Cover left Douglas and joined Bell Aircraft in September 1944 as vice president. The announcement of his move appeared in a press release from the Bell company that is contained in his NASM biographical file (left sidebar). Cover was active in B-29 bomber production during 1943 at Bell's Marietta, GA plant. It was there that he was recruited by Bell.

He brought to Bell at that time nearly 30 years of aviation experience in flying, plant organization and production. At 51 years old, Cover was probably the most active flying executive in the industry and his experience at the controls of all types of aircraft covered many thousands of flight hours.

It was while at Bell that Cover's twin-engine cargo plane crashed at Wright Field. Cover flew West due to that accident at Dayton, OH on November 27, 1944. His grave marker isbelow.



Carl Cover, Grave Marker, 1944 (Source: findagrave.com)
Carl Cover, Grave Marker, 1944 (Source: findagrave.com)


Harrisburg Telegraph, November 29, 1944 (Source: newspapers.com)


A more detailed biography appeared in his obituary published in the Harrisburg Telegraph (PA), November 29, 1944, right. Note mention of his test flight of the Douglas DC-4. Obituaries appeared in numerous newspapers across the country, including the Danville Bee (VA), et al.

While still in the army, but on reserve status, Cover also landed once at Peterson Field, Colorado Springs, CO, arriving from Goodland, KS on Friday, September 20, 1929 at 4:50PM. He carried five unidentified passengers in the Bellanca CH-300 he identified as NC251M (S/N 154). The airplane belonged to Inter-Island Airways, and Cover entered as his destination Honolulu, T.H. Note his involvement with the formation of the Airways cited above.

















Findagrave.com stated the following about his life and passing.

Trained at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas.
Commissioned Second Lieutenant, Air Service, during WWI.
Married Mina Jeannette Miller in 1918.
Was a vice president at Bell Aircraft Corporation and manager of the firm's Georgia division.
Killed in an accident at Wright Field in Ohio during WWII.

Two Die In Crash (28 November 1944 Billings Gazette, Billings, Montana)

Dayton, Ohio, November 27th – (AP) Carl A. Cover, 51, vice president of Bell Aircraft Corporation and manager of the firm's Georgia division, and Max Stupar, Bell Industrial planning director, were killed Monday in the crash of their twin-engine cargo plane at Wright Field.


Col. Carl A. Cover, native of Roxbury, widely known in cargo aircraft circle, was killed in an airplane crash at Dayton, Ohio. He is a nephew of Mrs. Raymond Lemaster of this community.

Col. Cover, age 51, born in Roxbury, educated in Harrisburg schools, was general manager of the Bell Aircraft Corporation's plant at Atlanta, Georgia. He accepted a commission in the Army Air Forces as a colonel at the personal request of Gen. H.H. Arnold, who regarded him as one of the most outstanding men in the heavy cargo plane field, and he was on his way to California from Buffalo when his plane crashed.

He was a pioneer in construction of big cargo planes and was the first man to fly a DC-4 cargo plane on a flight test. In April 1943, he was asked by Gen. Arnold to assist in B-29 Superfortress production and was commissioned a colonel. Shortly thereafter he joined the Bell staff in Georgia.

He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Minnette Miller Cover, two children, Hugh and Helen, all of Santa Monica California and a sister, Mrs. Robert W. Lowry, Harrisburg.

The News Chronicle
Shippensburg, PA
1 December 1944



Dossier 2.2.59


The Register

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


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