Richard Gilley landed three times at Tucson. His first landing on Wednesday, September 5, 1928 was flown in 25-433, a Douglas C-1 transport. He carried four passengers identified as Captain Murphy, Sgt. Lupton, Lt. Lanier and SSgt. Lipp. Based at Ft. Crockett, TX, they were westbound from El Paso, TX to San Diego, CA.
His second landing was on Sunday, December 23, 1928 at 4:00PM. Based at Riverside, CA March Field, he was eastbound from Yuma, AZ to Lordsburg, NM in the de Havilland DH-4M2P (photo reconaissance version) he identified as 31-084. He carried Sgt. R.F. McKenna as passenger. They remained in Tucson, departing eastbound the next day.
GIRL FORESEES DEATH
Writes Poem "My Aviator" Before Crash Kills Lieutenant
HOUSTON. Tex.. Dec. 8.—(AP)—
Somehow Miss Mollie Jim Gilley knew that her aviator-brother, Lieutenant Richard H. Gilley, would not come laughing back home for Christmas. So, in a little "composition book," she wrote a poem
about "my aviator"—a poem full of the premonition of death. The poem was a little hard to keep from her mother who also felt that around Dick a black shadow
hovered close. But Miss Mollie Jim said the writing in the book was school work and the mother didn't look to see.
Saturday a message came announcing
that Dick and another lieutenant, J. Q. Adams. 24, had died in a smashed airplane's burning wreckage near Miami, Arizona. The poem in its twisted tearstained book remained today for the sister along with her memories. It reads:
Silently he fastens the tight strap
under his chin,
He climbs into the cockpit, laughs
goodby with a boyish grin
But my heart stands still,
Because—I love him.
Love of adventure, daring, courage supreme looks out from his young eyes,
His slender, supple body.
Too perfect to be broken—
It’s good he can not hear my sighs.
Because I love him.
I smile and wave a bit of white,
And throw a kiss 'till he's out of
Straight into the flaming sunset
he is gone,
His plane a black bird in silhouette
against the gold.
But what of the day when he
comes not back,
Out of the sky whence he disappeared—
Out of the great, wide spaces
where misfortune leaves no track—
I do not dare to think—
I could not live.
Because, you see, I love him.
His final landing was at 5:55PM on Tuesday, April 16, 1929 in 31-916, a de Havilland he identified as a DH-4M2T (a dual-control trainer version). Based again at Riverside, CA, he was eastbound on a round-robin through Tucson and back to Riverside. He again remained overnight in Tucson, departing back west the next day.
Gilley was killed on Saturday, December 7, 1929 in the crash of an airplane flown by fellow Register pilot John Quincy Adams. An article describing the circumstances of the accident appears at Adams' link. At right, another article from the Ogden (UT) Standard-Examiner, Sunday, December 8, 1929. It appears that Gilly's sister had a premonition of his death.
I know little about pilot Gilley. The Web is sparse. The Department of Commerce publication, "Amateur Radio Stations of the United States," for June 30, 1920 identifies him living in Caldwell, TX as a 24 watt amateur radio license holder with call letters W5ABP.
Gilley participated in the Mason M. Patrick Trophy Race of 120 miles (Event No. 6) at the 1928 National Air Races at Los Angeles, CA Mines Field (see the article at Otto C. George). According to the Aircraft Yearbook for 1929, he did not place among the top 12 finishers.
An email from his grand-niece states that Gilley had no children and was not married. He was from Caldwell Texas. If you know anything else about Register pilot Richard H. Gilley, please let me KNOW.
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 07/10/12 REVISED: 10/07/12