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Some of this information comes from the biographical file for pilot Dyer, CD-903000-01, reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC. His biographical file consists mostly of copies of The New York Times articles exhibited at right.


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. ISBN 978-0-9843074-0-1.


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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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, or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author.  ISBN 978-0-9843074-4-9.




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James E. Dyer landed twice and signed the Register at Tucson. Below, from the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr Stream (SDAM), is a portrait of Dyer in flying gear. The image is undated and the location was unspecified.

James E. Dyer, Date & Location Unknown (Source: SDAM)

A spectacular stroke of juxtaposition enables us to know exactly why he was in Tucson, and where he went east of Tucson. Dyer is one of the few pilots for whom we can pinpoint the timing and reason for their flights. Other examples are William T. Piper, Jr., Zantford Granville and Pancho Barnes. There are precious few others. Details follow.

Dyer's first visit at Tucson was on Saturday, December 8, 1928 at 3:30PM. He carried W.E. Leyland as his single passenger in the Vought O-2U-1 Corsair he identified as A-7557. Based at San Diego, CA, Dyer and Leyland remained n the ground 30 minutes and continued eastbound to Washington, DC. Why Washington?

Dyer and Leyland were enroute to Washington to receive the Herbert Schiff trophy for safe flying during the previous year. Below, from the Bureau of Aeronautics Newsletter, October 31, 1928, is documentation of the award and its timing. There is no mention of passenger Leyland.

J.E. Dyer, Schiff Prize, Bureau of Aeronautics Newsletter, October 31, 1928 (Source: Webmaster)

Dyer was given a week to travel to Washington. From the article below, from Popular Aviation (PA), February, 1929, we learn that W.E. Leyland was the mechanic who kept Dyer's aircraft in such admirable shape that it enabled winning the trophy. Note the misspelling of Leyland's name in the article. It is W.E. Leyland, as it is clearly written in the Register.

J.E. Dyer, Schiff Prize, Popular Aviation, February, 1929 (Source: PA)

Dyer's second landing at Tucson was on Friday, January 11, 1929 at 10:10AM. His airplane and passenger were the same. His itinerary was westbound to San Diego from Washington. His landing in the morning probably meant, as was common, that he used El Paso, TX as an overnight stop, then was up early on Friday to arrive at Tucson in a few hours flying time. This, without much conjecture, is their return trip to San Diego after the festivities at Washington. They remained on the ground 50 minutes before continuing west.

But there was one other flight Dyer made eastward from Washington. It was to Portland Airport, Scarboro, ME. We know about that flight from another airfield Register that I own, but that I haven't placed online yet. That Register has Dyer on the Airport on December 20, 1928, as shown below in a line I cropped from the Portland Airport Register, page 11. I enhanced the contrast a bit in PhotoShop for readability. I'll eventually write the database and place online this Register and its associated pilot and aircraft biographies.

J.E. Dyer, Signature, Portland, ME Airport Register, December 20, 1928 (Source: Webmaster)

Thus, he left San Diego on December 8th, attended the awards ceremony in Washington ca. December 15th, landed in Maine on December 20th, and made his way back through Tucson by January 11th. We could conjecture he spent the 1928 Christmas and New Year holidays in New England. I could find no information about Dyer's family life, or where he might have lived. If you can help fill in the blanks, please let me KNOW.

The New York Times also celebrated his Schiff award on December 15, 1828, right, December 23rd and January 4, 1929. We see William Schiff, relative of Herbert Schiff for whom the award was named, but no Leland.

The New York Times, December 15, 1928 (Source: NYT)
The New York Times, December 23, 1928 (Source: NYT)













The article below, featuring Dyer's meeting with New York City's mayor Walker, alludes to the immediate departure of Dyer and Leland (not mentioned in this article, either) back to San Diego from New York. If he did leave on the 4th or 5th, it took him a week or so to return to base, for a total time of almost six-weeks' travel.

The New York Times, January 4, 1929 (Source: NYT)















Leland Promotion, The New York Times, May 30, 1929 (Source: NYT)


Was Dyer's and Leyland's a long absence from San Diego? Probably not, considering their aircraft's speed, and it was the winter time with possible weather delays, and two holidays fell in the time they were gone. Other than the cold weather, this trip was probably a welcome respite for Dyer and Leland, away from their duties in the aviation training and maintenance programs at San Diego.

About five months later, Leland received his reward as a promotion, as documented in the May 20, 1930 issue of The New York Times, right.

We discover that "W.E." stands for William Edward. If you're reading this and are a relative of William Edward Leland, please CONTACT me with information and photographs and we'll memorialize W.E. on his own Web page a little better than he was in the earlier issues of The Times. Cheers to the enlisted guys who make it all happen!

Below, from aerofiles.com, is a photograph of the Vought O-2U-1 Corsair type as flown by Dyer and maintained by Leyland. This is not A-7557, but it is the type of open-cockpit Navy aircraft flown by Dyer and Leyland cross-country during the winter of 1928-29, and documented at both ends of their journey by the dusty pages of old airfield Registers.

Vought O-2U-1 Corsair Type (Source: aerofiles.com)

Dyer was born Dec 11, 1894 and flew West Aug.25,1957. He was from Rumford, ME, which probably explained his landing at the Portland airfield. He served in both WWI and WWII.


Dossier: 2.2.74

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 07/26/14 REVISED: 11/23/14, 10/16/17

The Register

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



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. ISBN 978-0-9843074-2-5.


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.  Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-1-8.


Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race is available at the link. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. 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. ISBN 978-0-9843074-3-2.


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