Portrait, 1920 (Source: Armstrong)
Lt. Clarence E. Crumrine (born March 26, 1893) landed once
at Tucson, Monday, June 11, 1928 at 10:40AM. He carried one passenger identified
as G.R. Marley. Based at Dayton, OH (Wright Field) they were
westbound from El Paso, TX, departing for San
Diego, CA at noon the same day. They flew a Douglas O-2, 25-403.
Earlier, in July, 1920, Crumrine piloted one of four Army deHavilland
DH-4B aircraft from Mitchel Field NY to Nome, AK. This flight
became known as "The
First Alaska Air Expedition". The group called themselves
the Black Wolf Squadron. The total mileage was 4,500, by
way of stops at Erie PA; Grand Rapids, MI; Winona and Minneapolis,
MN; Fargo, ND; Portal ND; Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Edmonton
and Japer, Alberta; Prince George and Hazelton, British Columbia;
Wrangell, AK; Whitehorse and Dawson, Yukon Territory; and
Fairbanks and Ruby, AK. A 1922 account, penned by expedition leader and fellow Register pilot St. Clair Streett, appeared in The National Geographic in 1922. (PDF 2.5Mb). A 1970 account of the expedition published during its 50th anniversary year by the Seattle Times of August 2, 1970 is at the link (PDF 500Kb).
Below, a photograph of Crumrine and a mascot taken at Grand Rapids, MI shortly after his return from Alaska.
Clarence E. Crumrine, Grand Rapids, MI, Ca. 1920 (Source: Armstrong)
The text in the heart painted on the fuselage says, "Fairbanks Alaska's Golden Heart. There's a soft spot in it for you."
Others making the flight were: Capt. St. Clair Streett,
Sgt. Edmund Henriques, Captain Streett’s
mechanic in aircraft number one; Lt. Clifford
C. Nutt, pilot, and Lt. Erik
navigating and engineering officer in aircraft number two;
Lt C.E. Crumrine, pilot, and Sgt. James D. Long, mechanic,
in aircraft number three and Lt. Ross C. Kirkpatrick, pilot,
and MSgt. Joseph E. English, mechanic, in aircraft number
four. The crew earned the Mackey Trophy for 1920 for their
effort. An image of
Crumrine in a group photo taken around the time of the Alaska
flight is available here on
dmairfield.org. This same photograph, from a different source, is displayed on the Group Photographs page. The National Geographic article linked above exhibits photos of the crew as well.
In September 1922, Crumrine was involved with an air squadron
exercise at Mitchel Field, NY where there was a crash of
a large Martin bomber. The news made the September 24 issue
of The New York Times (left sidebar). The exercise was commanded
by then captain Ira C. Eaker (his
name was misspelled "Baker" in the Times). The bomber ascended
late in the exercise, at about 11:30PM, as part of the regular
routine. The field was brilliantly illuminated with spotlights
and parachute flares and about 25,000 people were present
to watch the spectacle. There was a shallow fog, as well
as smoke, over the area. The bomber fell to the ground at
a steep angle from about 500'. There was no cause suggested
for the crash, as the airplane had been flying normally out
of the range of searchlights for some time before the accident.
Six airmen on the bomber were killed.
Crumrine also served as the advance officer of the 6th
Division for the World
Flight of 1924. Follow the link for several images of
the World Flight aircraft, pilots and crew. After WWII, in the late 1940s, he crossed paths with Register pilot Lee Willey as they shared command duties at the Topeka Army Air Field, Topeka, KS. Specific mention of Crumrine is found in a news article exhibited as part of the Willey Collection, Military Service.
During the early 1930s he was a member of the 55th Pursuit Squadron that was then based at Mather Field, Sacramento, CA. Below, a 1932 photograph of the squadron. Crumrine appears to be third from left in the back row.
55th Pursuit Squadron, 1932 (Source: Armstrong)
The Squadron flew Boeing P-12s at the time, one of which can be seen in the background. Notice in front of the group on the ground the "55" and underscore fashioned from machine gun cartridge belts. Ammunition belts also are festooned over the propeller behind the men, and draped over the two innermost bombs to either side. The annotation on the photo says, "The 55th Pursuit Squadron, 1932, Clarence Crumrine."
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 10/15/07 REVISED: 07/08/09, 03/11/10, 12/20/12, 09/28/19