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There is no biographical file for pilot Rector 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.


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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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


Scott, Mary. 1990. Charles A. Rector: Airman Extraordinary. J.A.A.H.S. 35:2. 155-157.


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Charles Rector landed at Tucson three times, twice as pilot in command and once as a passenger. His first visit was on Friday, August 22, 1930. He was solo in the Waco ATO NC8508 (S/N A-58, manufactured 1929). Based at Los Angeles, CA, he was eastbound from Los Angeles to Chicago, IL.

A few years earlier, Rector received his Transport pilot certificate in 1927. The letter of authorization, below, certifies him to fly as a transport pilot.

Charles A. Rector, Transport Pilot Authorization, May 21, 1927 (Source: SDAM)

Below is an early copy of his Transport pilot certificate, to expire on September 30, 1929. Images courtesy of the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr Stream (SDAM). He was carrying this certificate when he landed at Tucson.

Charles A. Rector, Transport Pilot Certificate T3429, September 30, 1929 (Source: SDAM)
Charles A. Rector, Transport Pilot Certificate T3429, September 30, 1929 (Source: SDAM)


Charles A. Rector, Date Unknown (Source: SDAM)
Charles A. Rector, Date Unknown (Source: SDAM)


A month later, on September 22nd, he landed as passenger with Claire Fahy in the same Waco ATO. They were westbound from El Paso, TX to Los Angeles. Please direct your browser to the links for Fahy and NC8508 for further information.

His second landing as pilot in command was almost five years later, on Sunday July 7, 1935. This time he was solo in the Lockheed Vega NC7428. He was westbound from Dallas, TX to Los Angeles, still cited as his home base. He did not record a purpose for his flights.

At right, a portrait of Rector available at the Flickr Photostream of the San Diego Aerospace Museum (SDAM). Although the date is unknown, he appears to be in his 30s, which would date the photo sometime in the 1940s.


Rector was born February 1, 1909 at Reading, PA (note Beadling, PA in the obituary below), the first of nine siblings. He died March 1, 1988 at Newport Beach, CA. He was 79 years old (obituary below). According to the Scott article (cited, left sidebar), Rector soloed in 1924. Soon after, he walked wings, flew under bridges at air shows, and completed two years of college at the University of Pittsburgh. He moved to Seattle, WA in 1927.

In Seattle he flew cargo and passengers. I have no details about his employer(s). One pleasure flight was interrupted by fire. Below is a description from the West Seattle Herald of June 13, 1929.

W.S. [West Seattle] Folks Escape Burning In Plane
Are Saved from Death by Calmness of Pilot

A scenic trip above the city on Sunday almost ended disastrously for three West Seattle residents, who were passengers in a monoplane which caught on fire.

The plane, which was driven by Charles A. Rector, a pilot of seven years experience, took off from Boeing Field with the three who were: Peggie and J.R. Hawley, 3052 46th Avenue S.W., and Volmer Jensen, 1106 W. Spokane Street, and circled south over the city. While 2,200 feet above the Jefferson golf course, the gas line broke, and the flame leapt back toward the cabin.

The pilot pumped the fire extinguisher, keeping the flames from reaching into the cabin, where the passengers were. By steering the plane from one long slip into another, he succeeded in making a successful landing, with the only injury to anyone being his own burnt hand.

Because of his exploits, he became known in the Seattle area as the "Flaming Death Pilot" who won a "Race with Death." The article just above does not mention that there was a couple of feet of snow on the ground in near blizzard conditions.

About six months later, the Titusville (PA) Herald published the following story.

Mercy Flight, February 15, 1930 (Source: Web)
Mercy Flight, February 15, 1930 (Source: Web)

SDAM provides the article below regarding Mrs. Edwins. The airplane appears to be a Lockheed Vega.

Mercy Flight, February, 1930 (Source: SDAM)
Mercy Flight, February, 1930 (Source: SDAM)

Interestingly, the description of this article at the link includes the following, "Image from an Album (AL-77) belonging to Charles Rector, who was a pilot whose career spanned several generations. Some highlights of his life include working for Tallmantz aviation on many major Hollywood Movies, and working as Mick Jagger's pilot. More info on Rector can be found here: www.dmairfield.com/people/rector_ca/index.html." In case you haven't noticed, you're at that link

Below, Rector, center, poses with Register pilot Roscoe Turner and the lion cub Gilmore. The gentleman on the right is unidentified. Gilmore is a very young cub, which would date this photograph somewhere during 1930. Turner is out of his usual flying costume, which you can see at his link. Another photograph of him in three-piece suit and bowler is also at his link.

Charles Rector, Center, With Roscoe Turner (L), Gilmore and Unidentified (Source: SDAM)
Charles Rector, Center, With Roscoe Turner (L), Gilmore and Unidentified (Source: SDAM)

The Scott article goes on to cite that in 1931 he moved to Los Angeles and went to work as a test pilot for the Lockheed Aircraft Company. In 1933 he left Lockheed to work for the Wilmington-Catalina Airline flying Douglas Dolphins from Los Angeles to Santa Catalina Island. Register pilot Walter Seiler was chief pilot for that organization. Again, courtesy of SDAM, we have a copy of his October, 1934 authorization for his Transport pilot certificate #3429, below.

C.A. Rector Transport Pilot Authorization, October, 1934 (Source: SDAM)

He married for the first time in 1934 and then served as a pilot with Northwest Airlines from 1935 to 1941. On April 15, 1941, he took a leave of absence from Northwest to serve as a civilian pilot for the Ferry Command of the British Royal Air Force. He flew with the Command until April, 1945 ferrying aircraft across the Atlantic to England, North and West Africa, the Sudan, the Far and Near East, and flying the Pacific Theater to India and Australia.

As WWII ended, he returned to Seattle and took a position from 1945-46 as an air carrier inspector for the Civil Aeronautics Administration until he took a job with the Pacific Division of the Flying Tiger Line. In 1947 he joined Philippine Airlines as director of operations. He did not stay in this position long, moving back to Los Angeles in 1950 and opening his own charter service flying out of LAX until 1953.

He married again in 1953 for the final time. They moved to Montreal as a base and Rector flew for the Canadian government in support of the construction of the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line. He regularly flew to the Arctic Circle and operated from frozen lakes.

Next he and his family, now consisting of wife and two children, moved to the Middle East where, "... from 1957 to 1959, he flew pilgrims and cargo to Mecca as political unrest increased in the area. His cargo often included gold, so there was a constant risk of sabotage and a pervasive atmosphere of danger and intrigue."

In 1959 he and his family moved back to Los Angeles where Rector again formed his own company, this time to contract fire control work to the U.S. Forest Service. He flew into fires dropping hundreds of gallons of borate solution from TBMs and B-25s modified for the work.

Continuing his dizzying job shuffle, in 1963 he became vice president and operations director for Aeronaves de Panama, where he remained until 1966. He returned to Los Angeles and opened yet another charter business. His flights included transport of then governor Ronald Reagan to and from his Santa Barbara ranch.

In 1969 he signed a contract with Tallmantz Aviation, which acted as agent for Paramount Studios. In that capacity he flew some of the scenes for the movie "Catch 22." Next he moved to Rome after purchasing his own YC-97 cargo plane. He hauled cargo from Rome, Milan, Cairo and Belgrade. Shortly he moved back to California where he again opened another business, World Air Traders. This was during the Vietnam war, and Rector's company ferried aircraft to Vietnam and Laos.

According to Scott, it was during this time Rector became friends with singer Mick Jagger and he was contracted to fly The Rolling Stones on a tour of Australia. Back home near Los Angeles he instructed for pilot proficiency for air carriers and commercial operators and operated a flight simulator.

At some point he moved to Las Vegas and flew his private plane out of Sky Harbor Airport. Early in 1988 he and his wife moved back to California where he died in March. Below, an obituary from the Orange County Register, March 10, 1988.

Charles A. Rector, Obituary, Orange County Register, March 10, 1988 (Source: Woodling)

Rector has a poor Web presence; the few articles and images cited above being about all. I have no other photographs or memorabilia. If you can help with details of his life, please use the link at the top of the right sidebar to contact me.


Dossier 2.1.134

THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 10/21/11 REVISED: 06/20/12, 11/30/14, 06/11/23

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


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