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


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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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. 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. 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.

In fact, 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. From his log, they came back north to Tucson on the 2nd, stopping at Tucson and El Paso on their way to Roswell, NM and finally on a grand cross-country excursion to the east coast.

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

His final visit was also in this airplane, carrying his wife as sole passenger during their return voyage west. 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."

Later in life he 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. Kelley flew with Transport pilot certificate T1301. He also landed twice at Clover Field, Santa Monica, CA.


UPLOADED: 02/17/09 REVISED: 04/15/14

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.


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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