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


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


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Jerry Nettleton landed at Tucson Thursday, August 20, 1931. He was solo in Monocoupe NC10370. Based at Toledo, OH, he was westbound from El Paso, TX to Santa Monica, CA. Although he did not record the reason for his flight in the Register, he was probably enroute to the 1931 National Air Races (NAR) held at Los Angeles, CA that year.

Below, a photograph of Nettleton from friend of dmairfield.org, John Underwood. I don't have much information about him, so if you can help, please use the link in the right sidebar.

Gerald Nettleton, 1931, Location Unknown (Source: Underwood)
Gerald Nettleton, 1931, Location Unknown (Source: Underwood)

The annotation on the back of the photograph suggests the Monocoupe behind him is NC545W (not a Register airplane), but note that NC10730 was written first. There is conjecture about the date, location and number of the airplane. If anyone has the facts, please let me KNOW.

Gerald Nettleton, Monocoupe NC545W (or NC10370?) (Source: Underwood)
Gerald Nettleton, Monocoupe NC545W (or NC10730?) (Source: Underwood)

There is no documentation in the Aircraft Yearbook that Nettleton competed successfully in the NAR in 1931. The Yearbook only lists those who place, so he may have entered race events, but did not place. Or he may have simply flown to Santa Monica from Ohio to attend the Races and not compete.


Nettleton had attempted a cross-country speed record the year before, with the following results summarized from Time Magazine, December 8, 1930:

"Within 100-mi of Los Angeles, his goal for a 'junior transcontinental speed record,'* Gerald Nettleton. 20, of Toledo, Ohio, was hopelessly in the "soup." Floundering at 10,000 ft. in rain, fog and snow he 'couldn't see ten feet ahead'; but he knew he was near the Cuyamaca Mts. To try a blind landing would be insane. The instruments froze; the magneto began to misbehave. Pilot Nettleton made his decision. He leveled off, throttled down, cut his switch, rolled out the door, waited and pulled his ripcord. Pilot Nettleton landed near a ranch-house in Pine Valley (in time to share Thanksgiving dinner with the occupants) —no speed champion, but possibly the youngest member of the Caterpillar Club."

*Pilot Nettleton had taken off from Newark Airport nine days earlier. For "junior" and "women's" speed records, only flying time is counted. Present east-west junior record of 24 hr. 2 min. was made by Stanley Boynton in six days.

Fellow Register pilot Bob Buck had just set a junior trans-continental record in September, 1930. If you do the math, Nettleton was 21 years old in the photograph above. His parachute jump was headlined ("YOUNG AVIATOR LEAPS TO SAVE LIFE NEAR GOAL" and detailed in the Sarasota (FL) Herald of November 28, 1930. He was about an hour from Santa Monica. There was no mention of the registration number of the airplane he jumped from, although the article did state that he, "... shut the throttle and rolled out the door." This suggests a closed-cabin airplane like a Monocoupe. A similar, but more brief, article appeared in The Palm Beach (FL) Post of November 29th. Popular Aviation magazine, May, 1931, also included an article entitled, "I Attempt to Break the Transcontinental Record." You can download it at the link (PDF 608Kb).

Below, from site visitor Joe Krantz, a letter, photograph and description from Mr. Kranz's grandfather's photo album. They make a nice complement to the information above. Compare Nettleton in this photo and in the one above.

Letter and Photograph, December 8, 1930 (Source: Kranz)
Letter and Photograph, December 8, 1930 (Source: Krantz)


THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 03/10 REVISED: 04/05/11, 07/30/14

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


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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