Aeronautics, 1929!!

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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.

---o0o--- Congress of Ghosts is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of 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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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.


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"A century from now the world will think of this period as the time when commercial application of flying had hardly begun."

J.L. Maddux, 1929

Jack Maddux, 1929 (Source: Aeronautics)
Jack Maddux, 1929 (Source: Aeronautics)


The New York Times, June 16, 1927 (Source: NYT)


Jack Maddux landed twice at Tucson, as a passenger both times. Maddux founded and owned Maddux Air Lines, which was based at the Grand Central Air Terminal (GCAT), Glendale, CA. His intention to start an airline business was published in The New York Times, June 16, 1927, left. His overall $10 million plan never materialized, because by 1929 his Maddux Airlines was merged with Transcontinental Air Transport. But he did contribute significantly to early passenger and freight transport by air.

On both visits his pilot was Larry Fritz, who was chief pilot for Maddux Air Lines. His first visit was in an unidentified Ford with seven fellow passengers on Sunday, December 18, 1927 at 11:00PM. Based at Los Angeles, CA, they arrived at Tucson from Douglas, AZ. They remained overnight, departing for Phoenix, AZ the next afternoon at 2PM. Fritz wrote in the remarks column of the Register, "Fine field and service." Besided Maddux, the passenger list included, J.W. Wiles (cited as a mechanic), Benjamin Bledsoe (a former federal judge), Frances Bledsoe, G. Henry Stetson, Milton Bacon, Walter Marshall and G.R. Sturgis. No reason was given for the flight. If you have any information about these other passengers, please let me KNOW.

His second visit was four months later, on Friday, April 13, 1928 11:00AM. This time Maddux and six fellow passengers arrived in the Ford identified as NC4532. A photograph of the airplane and a short description of Maddux Air Lines is at the link. Mrs. Helene D. Maddux was among the passengers. Based at Los Angeles, they arrived from Los Angeles and departed for Los Angeles after an hour on the ground. Besides Mr. & Mrs. Maddux, the other passengers were Mr. & Mrs. A.A. Alton, Mr. & Mrs. J.N. Kerwin and Melanie J. Miller. No reason was given for the flight. If you have any information about these other passengers, please let me KNOW. Below, courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr Stream (SDAM), is a signed photograph of Maddux (L) and Fritz. The location was unidentified.

Jack Maddux (L) & Larry Fritz, 1927 (Source: SDAM)
Jack Maddux (L) & Larry Fritz, 1927 (Source: SDAM)


Maddux's first Ford of the airline was NC1102, below. Its history is at the link. Now the question was how to develop a passenger base.

Ford NC1102, The First Maddux Ford (Source: Site Visitor)


Air Travel, 1929 (Source: Aeronautics)

Aeronautics magazine, December, 1929 published an article authored by Maddux entitled, "Selling the Public Air Transportation" available at the link (PDF 1.5Mb). The portrait of Maddux, above, is from that article. Air transport was relatively young in 1929, and many prospective passengers viewed it as dangerous. Amenities aloft were emphasized, as stated in Maddux's article, left. As well, considerable effort was exerted to gain and keep passengers. Corporations were solicited, free or cut-rate flights were offered to potential long-term clients, service was maximized for those who chose to fly. And, follow-up thank you letters were sent to passengers with suggestions for other routes they might enjoy. This is as unheard of today as pilots in plain view.

Passengers for Mexico, September 13, 1928 (Source: Site Visitor)


The major routes of Maddux Air Lines ran from Glendale, CA to San Francisco, CA to the north, and to San Diego, Agua Caliente and Ensenada, Mexico. A photograph of happy southbound passengers in flapper attire is at right. The date is September 13, 1928, about mid-point in the airline's life. The sign says the airplane leaves at 9:45AM for points south.

It was, as many of the early airlines, short-lived. It operated from September, 1927 to November, 1929. In an exhilarating and confusing series of purchases and mergers, Maddux Air Lines was bought by Transcontinental Air Transport (TAT), which then merged with Western Air Express (WAE). Maddux became president of the TAT/WAE merged organization. At about the same time Standard Airlines was merged with WAE and the sum became Transcontinental & Western Air, or TWA.

Significantly, the principals of Standard Airlines, Jack Frye and Paul E. Richter, were the first executives for TWA. Both were Register pilots, as were many Register signers who were pilots for Maddux and his successor's airlines (e.g., see Larry Fritz (above), Lee Willey, Hap Russell). Ultimately, Clover Field Register pilot Howard Hughes (with Jack Frye) would change the face of TWA with the introduction of the Lockheed Constellation during the 1940s. About two weeks after this photo was taken, on September 27, 1928, the one below was posed (L to R) by Jack Maddux, Charles Lindbergh, Mrs. Maddux and the Maddux children. Unfortunately, the airplane was unidentified in the photo caption.

Maddux, Lindbergh & Maddux Family, September 28, 1928 (Source: Site Visitor)


Advertisement, Aeronautics, December, 1929 (Source: Site Visitor)
Advertisement, Aeronautics, December, 1929 (Source: Site Visitor)


An article from the Journal of the American Aviation Historical Society (JAHHS), summarizes the formation of TAT on May 14, 1928. Interestingly, Register signer Charles Lindbergh was appointed as Chairman of the Technical Committee at a salary of $10,000 per year and a significant block of stock, rumored to be 25,000 shares at $10 per share. Other Register signers that came aboard TAT were John Collings, Larry Fritz (above) and Max Cornwell. You can download a copy of the article at the link (PDF 3.0Mb)

In the article, of the list tabulated for Fords used by Maddux Air Lines (other than NC1102), only three, NC9644, NC9651 and NC8411, are represented in our Registers. At left, from Aeronautics magazine, December, 1929, is an advertisement for the Maddux southern route. Departures were from the Grand Central Air Terminal.

Helene Maddux, 1929 (Source: Site Visitor)
Helene Maddux, 1929 (Source: Site Visitor)


Jack Maddux, Date Unknown (Source: Site Visitor)
Jack Maddux, Date Unknown (Source: Site Visitor)

But, I digress. There are only a few online sources for Jack Maddux. One, a Maddux family biographical Web site is at the link. It cites that Maddux Air Lines flew 16 airplanes as of mid-1929, just before the merger. Note at the link that the family surname was spelled both "Maddux" and "Maddox." The airline and Jack appear to be the only ones to use "Maddux."

Helene Maddux, above right, was a pilot in her own right and was a frequent signer of the GCAT Register during 1931. She owned and flew the Bird she identified as NC849W. The photo of Jack, above, was cropped from the larger portrait of Maddux with Fritz, above.

Additional information about Maddux Air Lines is at the link for NC4532, above. Air travel was not always what it is today. Jack Maddux was a pioneer during the time when the business had hardly begun. Maddux was born July 15, 1888. He died of a heart attack on July 26, 1937, five years after Helene (at age 40), and barely a decade after he started his airline.


THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 09/26/14 REVISED: 11/21/14

The Register

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



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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