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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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


Reinhold, Ruth. 1982. Sky Pioneering: Arizona in Aviation History. U. of Arizona Press. Tucson, AZ. 232 pp.


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Irving Kravitz landed once at Tucson, Thursday, April 30, 1931 at 9:00AM. He carried two passengers he identified as Lynn Lockhart and F. Rinney. They flew in the Stinson SM-8A, S/N 4004, Kravitz identifed as NC209W. Based at Phoenix, AZ, they arrived from the south from Nogales, AZ. They departed at 2:30PM for Phoenix. NC209W had its registration cancelled on March 15, 1955. It was based in Blythe, CA at the time of cancellation.

Irving S. Kravitz was born July 14, 1907 in Ojai, CA. I found no 1910 U.S. Census information, but in 1920 he was living with his parents in Ojai as an only child of twelve. His mother, Martha, passed away September 9, 1952 according to the Ventura County (CA) Star-Free Press. His father, Isidore, passed away June 24, 1958 according to the same newspaper. His father's occupationin 1920 was "yardman" for a private family. Kravitz was a second generation American. Both his grandparents were born in Poland. Likewise, I found no Census data for 1930. He completed four years of high school.

A friend of Delta Mike Airfield, G.B. Koontz, stated in an email to me, "Kravitz and Jack Thornburg started Arizona Air Service in Phoenix and elsewhere [1929] in AZ, then hooked up with Glover [Edwin 'Roxy'] Ruckstell and moved to the Red Butte Aerodrome to form Grand Canyon Airlines [sic][1930]." Incidentally, Thornburg (1901-1972) passed through Tucson almost a year before Kravitz, on Monday, May 19, 1930 at 10:00AM. Refer to his link for further information about Thornburg.

Apropos the founding of Grand Canyon Air Lines (GCA) is the following passage from the Reinhold reference in the left sidebar, page114.


"In late October 1929, Jack Thornburgh [sic] and Irving Kravitz arrived in Phoenix and set up a fixed-base operation at Phoenix Municipal.

"Kravitz, who was originally from Ojai, California, had enrolled as a flight student at Air Technological School of Aviation in San Diego. While at Air Tech, he met Jack Thornburg, an ex-Navy pilot who was a flight and ground school instructor there. Jack had plans to open an operation in Phoenix and suggested that 'Kravy' get a transport license and join him. This was immediately after the first collapse of the stock market, and as Kravy wrote, 'Because of the Depression, things looked grim and I decided to go along.'

"The boys flew Jack's OX5 Travel Air to Los Angeles, where Jack bought a new Great Lakes. The transaction included a dealership for Arizona. They then took off for Phoenix, Jack in his new ship and Kravy tagging along in old 'Elephant Ears' as the Travel Airs were called.

"Their operation followed the pattern of many similar aviation enterprises then and later. Kravy would help Jack with the building projects, gas their own and any transient aircraft, drag the field and help maintain the airplanes, thereby getting some on-the-job training. In his spare time he would fly. By January 10, 1930, he had accumulated the required 200 hours solo to qualify for his transport license. He passed the flight test and could now carry passengers and cargo as well as instruct in any single-engine land airplane with a gross weight of 3,500 pound or less.

"Phoenix Municipal had few improvements. The partners built a small wooden hangar with an office close by the existing caretaker's house and the gas pits. They were better pilots than carpenters [see their hangar below, and on Thornburg's page], but they were open for business.

"In December they purchased another Great Lakes and on January 28, Kravy's log noted: 'Soloed first student, Carl Bailey.' Senator-to-be Barry Goldwater was another of their students. Barry spend [sic] a good deal of time dragging the field as well as becoming a private pilot.

"Thornburgh and Kravitz remained at Phoenix Municipal for part of 1930, and then moved to Sky Harbor. The last official reference to this particular municipal field appeared in the 1930 Aircraft Year Book [sic]. No services were listed in the tabulation -- it was now just a place to land an airplane if the pilot was in trouble."

Some of the photographs on this page can be found at the Arizona Memory Project (AMP) in The Ruth Reinhold Aviation Collection, Arizona Historical Society, Tempe, AZ. Below is the Arizona Air Service fleet of aircraft circa 1930. The photo caption reads, “Arizona Air Service Inc. was incorporated by Jack Thornburg and he and Kravitz added another Great Lakes to the fleet. The Great Lakes 'Sport' models were good trainers, liked by both instructors and students, and loved by the acrobatic enthusiasts. Arizona Air Service was forced out of business by the depression.” The two Great Lakes are in the foreground, registration numbers, unfortunately, are not visible. Behind them is NC5042, a Waco GXE (not a Register airplane). It is probably the one owned by Thornburg and referenced in the Reinhold quote boxed above. The strut-linked ailerons are visible in the original. The aircraft at right appears to be a Lockheed Vega. Note the unidentified person standing at the port side of the airplane in the foreground.

Arizona Air Service Hangar & Fleet at Phoenix, 1930 (Source: AMP)
Arizona Air Service Fleet at Phoenix, 1930 (Source: AMP)

Below, a 1932 photo of Kravitz , right, with air tour passengers on the ground at Kayenta in northeast Arizona. The caption for the photograph states, "Irving Kravitz with some passengers at Kayenta. The man with the bandana is a Navajo chief, unknown name. The Travelair 6000 was a popular aircraft that contained a Wasp engine and could fly at a maximum speed of 140 and a cruising speed of 120 miles per hour.”

Irving Kravitz (R) With Passengers and NC9966 at Kayenta, AZ, 1932 (Source: AMP)
Irving Kravitz (R) With Passengers and NC9966 at Kayenta, AZ, 1932 (Source: AMP)

Their airplane is NC9966, a Travel Air SA-6000-A, S/N 1099, which was never recorded in this Register. However, it is recorded once in the Clover Field Register and 36 times in the Register of the Grand Central Air Terminal. The good news is, as of the upload date of this page, NC9966 is restored and flying in Fairbanks, AK. Refer to the airplane's link for information and photographs.

The following is from the Nogales International, July 4, 1930. Note the participation by Arizona Air Service, as well as the featuring of Register pilot Marie Graham, in the July 4th celebration. The headline read, "NOSE DIVES, TAIL SPINS, WING WALKING, TO BE AMONG EVENTS Miss Marie Graham, Formerly Of This City, To Give Flying Exhibitions Each Of The Three Afternoons "HELL'S ANGEL" MAN HERE FOR SHOW."


Nogales International, July 4, 1930 (Source: AMP)

“Five airplanes will participate in the spectacular air circus in Nogales today, tomorrow and Sunday. There will be stunt flying every day from 3 to 7 p. m. by some of the most daring aviaizona Air Service, Inc. Miss Marie Graham, former Nogales girl, and the only woman licensed pilot in Arizona, will give exhibitions in flying every afternoon.

"Jack Thornburg, chief pilot of the Arizona Air Service, Inc., will do the stunt flying and Jack Bruce, who holds the world's record for delayed parachute jumping, will make a parachute leap every evening at 6 o'clock. Bruce recently did some parachute work for a universal motion' picture, "Hell's Angels". He arrived here yesterday and gave a parachute leap last evening. Irving Kravitz, Carl Baker and Larson Mitchener will fly over from Phoenix today in a Fairchild and Great Lakes planes.

"Arrangements for the air circus, which will be one of the main attractions here for the Fourth, were made by F. R. Phillips, local representative for Great Lakes and Fairchild planes. The exhibitions will take place at the Nogales International Airport. Nose dives, tail spins, wing walking and many other daring stunts will thrill those who witness the air circus.”

More regarding GCA from the Reinhold reference, Page 172, is below.


"Following the liquidation of Scenic Airways [founded in 1926 and operated at Red Butte [by Register pilot J. Parker VanZandt] in late 1930, Red Butte Airport at the Grand Canyon was abandoned. The thought of this lovely field with its almost-new hangar and quarters, all in prime condition, was too much for Jack Thornburgh [sic]. He and Irving Kravitz made a great team, and a Canyon operation would take up the slack when their Phoenix business evaporated with the summer heat.

"Jack's dream of a Grand Canyon airline became a reality on November 29, 1930, when he purchased Red Butte from the United Aviation Corporation. Early in 1931, G.E. 'Roxy' Ruckstell became interested and bought into the project. It was Roxy's money thet enabled the new company to purchase new aircraft suitable for its operation. On April 29, 1931, Grand Canyon Air Lines, Inc. drew its first legal breath with the blessings of the Arizona Corporation Commission."

Although Grand Canyon Air ines has undergone transfers of ownership and financial challenges over the years, as credit to its sound beginnings and the need for such a service, GCA is still in business some 90 years after it was founded by Thornburg, Kravitz and Ruckstell. Today, it provides aerial tours of the Grand Canyon and surrounds. If you have been to the Grand Canyon, either hiking through and camping, or flying overhead, you know they named the place correctly.

In a special ceremony, Kravitz married Edith Zula Wlson McManus (1908–1995) at Coconino, AZ on October 7, 1935. Their marriage certificate is below. They had at least one child, Judith Ann (1940-2011). According to the certificate, his business partner Roxy Ruckstell and his wife served as witnesses.

Irving Kravitz- Edith McManus Marriage Certificate, October 7, 1935 (Source: ancestry.com)
Irving Kravitz- Edith McManus Marriage Certificate, October 7, 1935 (Source: ancestry.com)


William News (AZ), October 10, 1935 (Source: newspapers.com)


Their unusual wedding was documented in the William News (AZ), October 10, 1935, right. A review of other contemporary news and magazine sources suggests airborne weddings were common among aviation-minded couples outside Arizona as well.

Ventura (CA) County Star, Ventura Daily Post and Weekly Democrat, December 16, 1935 (Source: newspapers.com)



Better late than never, the Ventura (CA) County Star, Ventura Daily Post and Weekly Democrat, December 16, 1935 provided a little more information about the wedding, left. The banner headline read, "OJAI FLYER WEDS AIR HOSTESS IN PLANE OVER GRAND CANYON."

Five years later the Census for 1940 placed him and Edith in a $45 per month apartment on Lincoln Avenue in Riverside, IL on the southwest side of Chicago. Both of them were coded on the Census as having completed four years of high school. A few months after the census, he was registered for the draft October 16, 1940, below.

He worked for TWA on the dates of both the Census and of his draft registration. However, he and Edith had moved to a small house on Shenstone Road during the few months between the two dates. From his draft registration information, he was a tall, slender 33 year-old.



I.S. Kravitz Draft Registration, October 16, 1940 (Source: ancestry.com)
I.S. Kravitz Draft Registration, October 16, 1940 (Source: ancestry.com)
I.S. Kravitz Draft Registration, October 16, 1940, Reverse (Source: ancestry.com)
I.S. Kravitz Draft Registration, October 16, 1940 (Source: ancestry.com)










Kravitz was employed by TWA as a pilot beginning in the mid-1930s. I have sparse information about the Kravitz's life over the next seventy or so years. Los Angeles voter registration records listed their residence there in 1944. He was identified as a pilot; she as a housewife. They were Republcans (interestingly, he had been registered Democrat in the 1934 voter roll). And they lived in San Jose, CA in 1949-1950, according to the city directories those years.

Guest Editor Bob Woodling writes, "He was hired by TWA as a pilot in 1936 and was involved in a spectacular Constellation accident at Fallon, NV in December 1952." Indeed, the accident report (PDF, 711Kb, 10 pages), published July 13, 1953, goes into great detail in its analysis. News coverage included The Times of San Mateo, CA, December 8, 1952 and elsewhere. Luckily, none of the 35 passengers or five crew were injured.

A decade later, immigration forms dated May 28, 1961 documented their travel from Frankfurt, Germany to New York. Airline transport pilots routinely retire at age 60, suggesting he retired sometime in 1967. I do not know when they moved to Hawaii, but in 1987-88, their residence was listed at 75-5771 Iuna Place, Kailua Kona, today a modest, tropical home on a hillside, barely a mile from the Pacific.

Edith passed away December 28, 1995 at what was described as her residence in Kailua Kona, Hawaii. She was survived by Irving and their daughter, and granchildren. I could find no record of when Irving moved back to the mainland.

Irving Kravitz flew West from Boulder Creek, CA on January 28, 2006. He was 98 years old and one of a handful of Golden Age Register pilots who are known to have lived to see the 21st century (see also Alexander Chase, Harold Boddorff, John Miller, Bobbie Trout, Bill Piper, Jr., Ken Rearwin, Jesse McClure, Cameron Briggs, Busch Voights, and Bob Buck). All these pilots signed one or more of the airfield Registers that are the focus of these Web sites.



The Register

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


Thanks to Guest Editor Bob Woodling for help researching this page.


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