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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 here.


This information comes from the biographical information file for pilot Dallin, CD-021000-01, reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum, Washington, DC.

Additional information is available in an article by M. Sheppard: "Camera In The Sky: The Dallin Aerial Surveys Co. 1924-1941" in the Journal of the American Aviation Historical Society, Spring 1979. pp. 13-18. Images on this page are from that article (p. 13; 15).

Lt Col Victor Dallin, "National Guard Autogiros," U.S. Air Services 24, no. 5 (May 1939): 27.

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Victor Dallin, June 7, 1930, Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)


Victor Dallin was born in England on January 16, 1897. He traveled a round-about route to the time we see him at Tucson. He moved to Canada at age 8. At age 18, he volunteered for the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, was shipped to England, and transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and trained to fly in Scotland. He took a few official aerial photos as part of his flying assignments. Photograph, right, courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr Stream (SDAM), shows Dallin on June 7, 1930. He appears to wear british wings on his uniform.

After WWI, he came back to Canada and entered air exhibition work, then aircraft ferry services, delivering british aircraft from Ontario to New York. Another delivery to the Philadelphia area led him to eventually settle there. For several months in 1920, Dallin piloted for a well-known Philadelphia aerial photographer, William N. Jennings. Jennings was up in years, and had begun business in 1893 photographing from a free balloon.

With this experience, he founded Dallin Aerial Surveys, Inc. in 1924. The company was successful, and the image, below, taken in 1929, shows Victor Dallin at far left, with three of his staff, holding the instruments of his trade. He never employed more than seven people.The company was located at what has become the main Philadelphia international airport.

Dallin Aerial Surveys, 1929



Dallin was owner/operator of the company from 1924-1941, and many aerial images of the Golden Age have his company's byline ("Aerial photograph by Victor Dallin") at the bottom (see right sidebar). He was an early president of the Aero Club of Pennsylvania.

He began business with a new Laird Swallow. An undated article in his NASM file , probably from a magazine, headlined "Swallow Agent Makes Fine Flight". This airplane could probably be N-ABSA, registered to Victor Dallin before the current numeric airplane registration scheme. This is speculation, however, since the article was undated.

Most of his aerial images were taken from between 400 and 1,500 feet altitude, with the camera mounted on the side of the fuselage, facing forward, at an angle of about 45-degrees. A shutter mechanism was under Dallin's control in the cockpit. The rear-seater was responsible for changing glass film plates for the 8 x 10 inch cameras. He worked from 10AM to 2PM for optimum lighting conditions. Image, below is of Dallin's home airport at Philadelphia, August 10, 1927.

Philadelphia Airport, August 10, 1927

Dallin Aerial Surveys specialized in aerial surveys and in oblique photographs of factories, estates and real estate for developers. His first large contract was to map Philadelphia for the City Council at a scale of 1:800. Forty or 50 images taken during a day's work was not unusual. He also photographed contemporary news events, and sold the images to newspapers and magazines.

His charges for oblique photos were $100 for the first image, then $25 per image of the same subject. Negatives were retained by the company. Color film was never used. Images could be enlarged to 40 x 60 inches.

Dallin landed twice at the Davis-Monthan Airfield, on September 10, and September 20, 1928. He carried a single passenger both times, identified only as "Hackendorn." They flew in a Bellanca, NC4799, owned by Henri duPont. On September 10, they were westbound from Lordsburg, NM to Los Angeles, CA. On the 20th they were eastbound from Phoenix, AZ to El Paso, TX.

This cross-country voyage was to participate in the 1928 National Air Races ("On to Los Angeles"). The Bellanca (race number 54) was a model CH-200 owned by duPont. He took aerial images of the Race at Los Angeles, and won the Efficiency Race for the 800 cubic inch class, and took second place in the Speed Race.

In 1940, he was appointed manager of the Philadelphia Airport and in October of that year he was appointed Director of Aeronautics for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In 1941, with Pearl Harbor and its effects on civilian aviation, Dallin Aerial Surveys ceased operations.

During WWII, then Colonel Dallin assumed commands in the Caribbean and South America. He returned to Pennsylvania in 1945 as Chief, Bureau of Aeronautics, and helped develop the North Philadelphia Airport and the Philadelphia International Airport. Prior to his retirement, he was employed as a technician for an ophthalmologist. He retired to North Carolina. He passed away October 10, 1991.


Dossier 2.1.62

UPLOADED: 03/16/06 REVISED: 11/26/14

The Register

Is archived at:

Pictorial Collections and Photographic Services Department
Hagley Museum and Library
P.O. Box 3630
Wilmington, DE 19807

092-015 J. Victor Dallin Aerial Surveys Co. Collection , 1925-40, 15,000 items.
[BW, FN, GN, LA]

Collection is comprised of aerial views of the Philadelphia, PA and Wilmington, DE areas including landscapes, residences, schools, industrial sites, country clubs, towns, rivers, and lakes. Photography is by J. Victor Dallin.

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