Alger Graham was born at Mount Clemens, MI in 1898. He flew West on October 2, 1953. He landed four times
at Tucson, flying three different aircraft.
His first landing was on July 10, 1928 as a participant
in the National
Ford Reliability Tour for that year. He
was flying Buhl Airster NC5861, based out of Detroit, MI. He
carried two passengers, Ray Cooper and Faye Shumate. Refer
to the links in the right sidebar for motion picture footage
of the 1928 Tour as well as an excellent reference that covers
all the Tours.
Below, is a rare occurence courtesy of Tim Kalina. It is a "hat trick" news photo of Register people and their airplane. The photograph shows our pilot Graham, passenger Cooper and their Buhl. Although the date and location are unknown, the date is probably ca. 1928.
Ray Cooper (L), Alger Graham & Buhl NC5861 in Detroit Board of Commerce Livery, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Kalina)
Mr. Kalina says about the photograph, "Cooper at the time of this photo was Aviation Director of the Detroit Board of Commerce.... The plane was owned by the Detroit Board of Commerce." Below, the caption on the back of the photograph.
Caption, Ray Cooper (L), Alger Graham & Buhl NC5861 in Detroit Board of Commerce Livery, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Kalina)
Graham is pictured in chapter 4 of the
Forden reference, on page 83 (he is identified as number 11
in the group photo). He is cited in the table on page
84 as the pilot of Buhl NC5861 (race #7). His final
standing was in 16th place.
Salt Lake Telegram (UT), September 5, 1928 (Source: newspapers.com)
He landed at Tucson a
second time with this airplane on September 22, 1928. He
carried passenger Cooper again, and they were eastbound from
Phoenix, AZ to El Paso, TX. An article in the Salt Lake Telegram, September 5, 1928 suggests the reason for his itinerary through Tucson, left. Cooper's first name looks like "Ray" not "Roy" in both Register entries.
According to his NASM file (cited in the left sidebar, top),
he enlisted in the Canadian Royal Flying Corps and saw active
service in France and Belgium during WWI.
Graham acted as ferry pilot for the first Wilkins Arctic
Expedition (1913-18). While with the Expedition, in
1917 he flew gasoline and supplies across the Endicott Mountains,
in Alaska, to Point Barrow. He was an expert mechanic
and one of the most experienced commercial pilots in the
U.S., having accumulated 2,500 flight hours. During WWII, he enlisted as a captain at age 44 and flew with the 16th Aerial Photographic Survey group and became an instructor in arctic flying and rescue.
Besides the Buhl, Graham landed at Tucson February 15, 1930
and signed the Register with a Stearman, NC8827. He
carried one unidentified passenger. He came through
again about a year later on February 25, 1931 flying solo
with an unidentified biplane, NC9596 (it's a Waco ASO, S/N A-54). If you know more
about Pilot Graham or his airplanes, or have images you'd
like to share, please let me KNOW.
Graham was also affiliated with the Wayco Air Taxi Service in
Detroit, MI (owned by Edward
Schlee), and with Scenic
Airways, Inc. He flew
surveys for Scenic Airways, and was employed with them as
of 1927. Regarding Scenic Airways, on March 22, 2018 I heard from a site visitor in Kayenta, AZ who forwarded the images below of Graham and a Scenic Airways craft on the ground there at the southern approach to Monument Valley. The first image shows Graham at far left (compare his face with that of the pilot in the airplane at top of the page) standing with a group in front of a Scenic Airways aircraft (Travel Air Model 5000?).
Alger Graham (L), October 20-24. 1927 (Source: Site Visitor)
The image below shows another view of the airplane and identifies some of the people affiliated with the landing. It is not clear, other than Graham, who the others, Kluver and Stevenson, were in the photo above. The gentleman in the hat was identifed by our site visitor as John Wetherill. He was a founder of Kayenta when he setup his trading post/camp there in 1912.
Scenic Airways, Kayenta, AZ, October 20-24. 1927 (Source: Site Visitor)
Below is an enlargement of a photo similar to the inset above. From the context, this was probably one of the early surveys performed by Graham on behalf of Scenic Airways. The landing of the first airplane at Kayenta caught the attention of numerous local people.
Scenic Airways, Kayenta, AZ, October 20-24. 1927 (Source: Site Visitor)
Below is a contemporary drone view (~1,600') of Kayenta, AZ with the airport at center, right. Kayenta is the seat of Navajo government in the area.
Kayenta, AZ, 2018 (Source: Site Visitor)
Graham in Cockpit & Marion "Babe" Weyant, Ca. Mid-30s (Source: Link VIA Woodling)
Photograph, left, shows Graham in the cockpit posed with Marion "Babe" Weyant, a colorful figure in aviation around Lansing, MI from the mid-1930s until she flew West in 2004. Her biography is at the link.
On 4/7/08 I received the following from Dr. George Bohmfalk, "This may be a red herring, but I found a 'short-snorter' $1 bill signed by members of the XI Bomber Command, stationed in Crab Bay, Alaska, in 1942. Alger Graham was one of the signers. His experience in Alaska in WWI that you mention suggests this may be the same person."
Below are front and back images of the short-snorter. Note that the bill is a "Silver Certificate"; these are not in circulation any more. The top three images are unenhanced...
"Short-Snorter", 1942, Front
"Short-Snorter", 1942, Back
Below is an undated column from an issue of Coin World, which describes this dollar bill and lists the signers by name. I am listing them as text as follows in order to let Google index them and maybe someone with knowledge about them will contact us.
News Article, "Short-Snorter", Date Unknown
The signers of the "short-snorter" from the 11th Bomber Command are: William Dancer, Jr., Major E.B. Wolford, Captain W.C. Becks, Lt. E.J. (unreadable), Capt. Henry S. Mailer, Roy Smeltzer of Platinum, Alaska, E.W. Knight.
Jeanne Moore, 1st Lt. John C. Tyler, Lt. Brook Hobson, Bill Wellborn, G.F. Borgas, Alger Graham, Capt. Cal Godshall, Lt. C.L. Overton.
Lt. Fritz Sahl, Lt. Charles F. Frink, Walt P. Shaff of the 22nd Fighter Group, James T. O'Neill and Don Oelerich.
None of the other people's names appear in the Register.
Further, Dr. BohmfaIk states about his short-snorter, "I Googled 'short snorter,' never having heard the term myself. It seems there are several ideas what it means, and no general agreement. But as relates to money, it seems that, during WWII, a tradition developed, particularly among Americans, that, perhaps in the interest of building camaraderie and group loyalty, everyone in a squadron or similar small-size group took a small bill and had everyone in his group sign it. Then, whenever one soldier encountered another in a bar, he could challenge him with, 'Are you a short-snorter?' If the challenged person could produce his signed bill, he was safe; if not, he had to buy a round for everyone in the bar or something."
Please contact us if you know something about "short-snorters", too. Below, I have "forced" the contrast of the bill images to bring out the handwriting so it is a little more legible. Our pilot, Alger Graham, is readable as the first entry on the front of the bill.
"Short-Snorter", 1942, Front, Enhanced
"Short-Snorter", 1942, Back, Enhanced
THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 04/06/07 REVISED: 04/15/08, 08/03/10, 03/23/18, 04/18/18