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There is no biographical file for pilot Kelley in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), 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.


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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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


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.



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Douglas Kelley was a frequent signer of the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register, signing eight times during 1929-30. Based always at San Diego, CA, he flew four different aircraft and usually carried one or more passengers.

Below, the page from his pilot log book for March, 1929, which documents his first visit to Tucson on the 29th. He was on a cross-country flight in Travel Air NC4319 (a model 4000, s/n 372). He carried a single passenger whom he identified as "Rannell". No purpose was noted in the Register for this flight, but from his log it probably a student cross-country instructional exercise.

D.T. Kelley Pilot Log, March, 1929 (Source: SDAM)
D.T. Kelley Pilot Log, March, 1929

Below, Kelley's second and third landings at Tucson were flown in the same airplane, Travel Air NC4319. Curiously, the second landing, on March 31, was not logged. His book skips from March 29th to April 1st. According to the Airfield Register, his third visit was on April 5th, which, again, is not logged in his book.

Below, a photograph of Kelley standing in front of a Travel Air. We can make out NC43-- under the port wing. Chances are good this is NC4319.

Douglas T. Kelley With (Probably) Travel Air NC4319 (Source: SDAM)
Douglas T. Kelley With (Probably) Travel Air NC4319 (Source: SDAM)

His fourth landing was on April 20th. This landing is skipped over, too, however we learn from his log that he was on a cross-country flight to Wichita from San Diego, CA and back flying Travel Air W-4000 NC8893. The total time of 19 hours and 55 minutes was an excellent time to make that round-trip. Follow the link to learn that 8893 was shipped to Japan.

D.T. Kelley Pilot Log, April, 1929
D.T. Kelley Pilot Log, April, 1929

His next two landings are in the same airplane, Travel Air NC9822. What is interesting about this airplane is that it was owned by movie actor and Register pilot Wallace Beery. In his pilot log, below, Kelley notes on May 20th that he bought NC9822 from "Wallace Berry [sic]". The Register has Kelley flying 9822 from Wichita, KS on the 19th of May. Another flight not recorded in his log! We note that he had totaled 365 hours and 15 minutes as of the end of May, 1929. This is not a lot of time, and today he would be considered a low-time pilot. Perhaps that accounts for his inexactness in recording his dates and times.

D.T. Kelley Pilot Log, May, 1929
D.T. Kelley Pilot Log, May, 1929

His 6th landing was on Friday, August 23, 1929. I do not have his log page for this visit, but he was carrying a single passenger, Eugene Fry, in his Travel Air NC9822.

Between his 6th landing and the ones below, Charles Lindbergh sent Kelley the following signed photograph (from the SDAM Flickr stream).

Charles Lindbergh to Douglas Kelley, Autographed Photograph, January 1930 (Source: SDAM Flickr Stream)


The following image shows Kelley's pilot certificate for 1930. It was in force when he made his 7th and 8th landings, below.

D.T. Kelley, Pilot Certificate, 1930 (Source: SDAM)
D.T. Kelley, Pilot Certificate, 1930 (Source: SDAM)

His 7th landing was over a year later on October 2, 1930. He was flying Stinson Junior SM-8A, NC960W, carrying two passengers, his wife and Ted Gildieck. According to the Register, they had arrived from Los Mochis, Mexico and were on their way to El Paso, TX. Below, we see that Kelly was very active with this airplane.

Curiously, his flight on October 1st, rather than being local to San Diego, must have been deep down the west coast of Mexico, as Los Mochis is in the state of Sinaloa, and is his cited arrived-from point. From his log, below, they came back north on the 2nd, and finally made a grand cross-country excursion to the east coast for the next couple of weeks.

D.T. Kelley Pilot Log, October, 1930
D.T. Kelley Pilot Log, October, 1930

In fact, from the SDAM Flickr stream, the image below maps a flight by Kelley to Los Mochis. It doesn't record a date or an airplane identification so it may not be a chart from October 1930, but it does record a "conked" engine and a forced landing.

Rand-McNalley Map of Sinaloa, Date Unknown (Source: SDAM Flickr Stream)
Rand-McNalley Map of Sinaloa, Date Unknown (Source: SDAM Flickr Stream)

His final visit was also in NC960W, carrying his wife as sole passenger during their return voyage from the east. On Tuesday, October 21st, they stopped at Tucson at 4PM on their leg between El Paso, TX and Phoenix, AZ. They remained overnight at Phoenix and completed their trip to San Diego on October 22nd. For the length of the flight, this was an aggressive schedule to keep in this airplane, especially since he mentions, "Half of total flying time -- Inst." meaning the weather was marginal and he was flying by instruments. This is a tiring way to fly with or without an autopilot, even today.

Among his achievements, Kelley was test pilot for Ryan Aircraft at the time of the construction of the "Spirit of St. Louis" (NX211) for Charles Lindbergh. There is some data that says Lindbergh stayed at Kelley's home when he was in San Diego during the spring of 1927. Kelley's grandson corroborates Lindbergh's housing with Kelley. He states, "I can fully support the account of Lindbergh staying at my grandpa's house. Actually the house belonged to my great grandmother and the story goes that he slept in a corner of the basement at her house. Lindbergh evidently loved her cooking also."

Also, from a site visitor, "Douglas Kelley was my neighbor in Fresno at E79 [E79 is the FAA identifier for the Sierra Sky Park Airport, just north of Fresno, CA) when I was a young boy in 1975 for several years he taught me to fly his RSTOL Cessna 205 and to this day still use the skills he taught me. I was caretaker for Doug and Estelle when they finally built their new home at Sierra Sky Park at E79.

"The address was on Kelley street on the east side of the runway. I was very lucky to grow up with Doug as a mentor. He showed me many tools that were engraved with RYAN aircraft in his shop as well as the gas torches used to build the Spirit he told me."

Douglas Kelley, Obituary (Source: newspapers.com)

Douglas Kelley aviation pioneer helped Lindbergh

No services are planned for Douglas Kelley 86 of Fresno an aviation pioneer and enthusiast. Mr. Kelley died Monday. He was a native Fresnan and graduated from Selma High School in 1922 Mr. Kelley helped build the M-l 'Spirit of St Louis' which Charles Lindbergh flew across the Atlantic. Lindbeigh was a house guest of Kelley while they were testing the M-l for his trip across the Atlantic. Mr. Kelley graduated from the US School of Aeronautics at Kelly Field in Texas about six months after Lindbergh. After graduation he went to work for Ryan Aviation where he also helped build the first M-l which was built in 1926 and is now called the Spirit of Fresno. In 1928 Kelley went to work as chief pilot for Airtech Flying Service at Lindbeigh Field in San Diego. He later became president of the firm. During World War II he served as director of flight for Consolidated Vultee builder of the B-24s.


Later in life Kelley received the National Aeronautic Association Elder Statesman of Aviation Award for 1987. His home, built in 1929 in San Diego, CA, was designated in 2002 by the San Diego Historical Resources Board as an historic landmark.

Born December 23, 1901, Kelley flew West on February 15, 1988. He flew with Transport pilot certificate T1301. His obituary from the Fresno Bee, February 17, 1988, is above.

Kelley also landed twice at Clover Field, Santa Monica, CA, and also at the Oakland Airport.


UPLOADED: 02/17/09 REVISED: 04/15/14, 03/04/23, 03/12/23

The Register
I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Kelley and his his airplanes to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please use this FORM to contact me.


Thanks to Alan Renga and the staff of the San Diego Aerospace Museum (SDAM) for allowing me to scan these pages from pilot Kelley's log books. The SDAM also exhibits the Douglas T. Kelley Photo Album online.

And thanks to Kelley's grandson, Norman Longman, for color commentary.


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