Pilot Eyes

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Some of this information comes from the biographical file for pilot Dana, CD-028500-01, reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum, 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.


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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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


New York Times July 19, 1936.


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Peter Dana was a professional pilot and native of Holderness, NH.  Interestingly, he was great-grandson of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.  He learned to fly in 1932 at the Ryan School of Aeronautics located at Lindbergh Field, San Diego, CA.  He received his transport license there in 1934 at the age of 18 and was then the youngest transport pilot in the U.S.

Peter Dana, Date Unknown

Pilot Dana landed one time at Tucson on May 2, 1933 carrying passenger M.G. Wallace in Great Lakes NC11324, S/N 241.  They were eastbound from San Diego, CA to New Hampshire.  He was about 17 years old when he landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield.  A few years later, he would set a couple of interesting junior speed records.

His planning was not all that foresightful.  A May 22 news article (year and paper unknown) had him saying, “I was visiting my mother, Mrs. Delia Dana, at Lake Crescent, near Port Angeles, Washington,…I had to leave for San Diego, anyway, so I thought I might as well shoot at the record.” 

Regardless, on May 23, 1936 he set a new record for 125 HP airplanes of 12 hours 34 minutes block-to-block in a flight from Vancouver, B.C. to Agua Caliente, Mexico.  He completed the flight down the Pacific coast in 11 hours 6 minutes actual flying time.  He took off from Vancouver at 4:01AM and landed at Agua Caliente at 4:35PM.  He beat the previous record by 1 hour 13 minutes.

A U.S. Immigration Service form documented his return to the U,S. after that flight, below. His airplane was the Ryan S-T NC14910, S/N 103 (not a Register airplane).


U.S. Immigration Service Form, 1936 (Source: ancestry.com)

On July 19, 1936, the New York Times (reference, left sidebar) reported he flew, at age 20 years, a low-wing, all-metal Ryan S-T monoplane powered by a 125 HP Monasco engine across the U.S. from San Diego to North Beach Airport in Queens, NY in the record time of 22 hours and 5 minutes (23 hours 37 minutes elapsed time).  He made eleven stops along the way, using 220 gallons of fuel and two gallons of oil.  He estimated his cost for fuel to be $50-$60.  It would cost about 25 times that amount as of July, 2008.

This flight is further documented in the Jefferson City, MO News & Tribune (471KB PDF download) of Sunday, July 19, 1936, and this one from the Syracuse Herald of the same date (278KB PDF download). Both of these are courtesy of Mike Gerow. Alas, the flight, though observed by the National Aeronautical Association, was recorded as unofficial, because the Association’s rules define a “junior” as one 18 years or younger.  The previous best time was 23 hours and 47 minutes established in 1930 by Bob Buck of Westfield, NJ.  Buck's record was “official” in that he was 16 years old when he flew cross-country.


Image, below, from dmairfield.org friend Tim Kalina, is dated March or May 29, 1935.

Peter Dana (R cockpit) and Jack Fisher Being Congratulated After Their Transcontinental Flight
Peter Dana (R cockpit) and Jack Fischer Being Congratulated After Their Transcontinental Flight


1935 Photo Data
Photo Data

The information on the back of the image is shown at right. There was no newspaper clipping that I found that documented this flight.




The image below is from the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr stream and shows Dana in front of his Ryan ST dated 1935. The SDAM caption is, "Close-up of Peter Dana in front of his S-T." The date may be 1936.

Peter Dana, 1935 (Source: SDAM)
Close-up of Peter Dana in front of his S-T.

A second view of Dana is below from the SDAM Flickr stream. While the photo is dated 1935 on the site, it may be 1936, just before or after his trans-continental flight.

Peter Dana Standing in Front of His Ryan S-T., 1935 (Source: SDAM)
Peter Dana, 1935 (Source: SDAM)

Peter Dana was born September 23, 1915 at Stonyford, NY. He was initially named Treyear (or Tregear) Peter Hutchinson. It was not clear from U.S. Census records for 1920 why that was so. In the 1920 record, his mother, Delia Hutchinson (age 30), was listed as head of household. Besides Peter (4), she had two other younger Hutchinson-surnamed childred living with her. They lived in Piscataway, NJ.

I found no Census data for 1930. The decade of 1930 was busy for him, as indicated by his flying activites cited above.

The federal census for 1940 located him at age 34(?), with his wife, Edith (29) and two children, step-daughter Patricia (10), and Bruce (3), living in Winthrop, MA. He was employed with Boston-Maine Airways. I'm pretty sure his age was 24 and the census-taker recorded it in error.

Peter Dana, 1942 Draft Registration (Source: ancestry.com)

Peter Dana Obituary, 1969 (Source: newspapers.com)



Given his birth date was cited as 1915, his age should be about 25 in 1940. Uncertainty about his age is further complicated by his WWII draft registration, completed in 1942, displayed below, where his age was cited as 25. It's even more curious that he gives his mother's name and address as primary contact.

The 1950 Census placed the family, again, in Winthrop. His age was listed, correctly, as 34. He continued to work for an airline company.

A 1956 Massachussetts city directory cited his address as Winthrop, MA where he lived with his wife and family. His occupation was Captain, for Northeast Airlines, Inc.

Dana flew West on September 1, 1969. His obituary is at left.


Dossier 2.1.78

UPLOADED: 04/03/06 REVISED: 12/12/07, 07/15/08, 05/30/23

The Register

I'm looking for photographs of Dana and his airplane to include on this page. If you have one or more you'd like to share, please use this FORM to contact me.

Please follow this link to see an image of NC11324 on this site.

I also need birth and death information for pilot Dana.


The thumbnail image on this page is used with permission from the archives of the San Diego Aerospace Museum

Each thumbnail has a database number, which you can use when you contact the Museum if you would like to have a full-sized, higher quality image sent directly to you. 

See the Museum’s ARCHIVES listings online to understand the scope of their holdings, and the procedures for acquiring prints.


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