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There is no biographical file for pilot xx 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.


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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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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Matthew Watson landed once at Tucson, Saturday, May 26, 1928 at 2PM. He carried three passengers, Charles McClelland, H.D. Ballard and Frank Sherman. Based at San Antonio, TX, they were westbound from San Antonio to San Diego, CA. They flew in the Ryan B-1 Brougham NC4563.

Ballard owned Sunbeam Air Transport Co. of Denver, CO. Among other things, his company offered to the public scenic airplane rides over San Antonio as advertised in the San Antonio (TX) Light of October 28, 1928, below. This particular advertisement is over the banner of Mission Airplane Services, which sold the Ryan to Ballard back in May. I have no idea why Mission is in the ad, versus Sunbeam. The Ryan cited was probably NC4563 and the Ford was probably NC7862 (see below).

Public Rides in Ford Trimotor, San Antonio (TX) Light, October 28, 1928 (Source: Woodling)
Public Rides in Ford Trimotor, San Antonio (TX) Light, October 28, 1928 (Source: Woodling)


Lubbock (TX) Avalanche, December 2, 1928 (Source: Woodling)
Lubbock (TX) Avalanche, December 2, 1928 (Source: Woodling)

As summer was approaching in the southwest, Watson noted in the Remarks column of the Register, "Too damn hot!" No reason was given in the Register for their trip west with the airplane that had, on that day, been purchased by passenger Ballard.

They didn't know it, but Watson and Ballard had about six months to live. They died on December 1, 1928 in an accident with Ford NC7862 (not a Register airplane) at Spur, TX. The Lubbock (TX) Avalanche, right, describes the circumstances of the accident, but doesn't count Mr. Ballard among the fatalities.

Titusville (FL) Herald, December 3, 1928 (Source: Woodling)
Titusville (FL) Herald, December 3, 1928 (Source: Woodling)


A day later the media had their facts straight and declared that five had died in the fire that followed the crash. At left, a full accounting from the Titusville(FL) Herald for December 3, 1928. Weather was thought too be a factor, with a warning given before the flight.

Not only Watson and Ballard (who was a young 31 years old) perished, but three others, including a garage employee and two of Ballards own employees, his chef and his chauffeur.




The Register
I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Watson and his airplanes 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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