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Some of this information comes from the biographical file for pilot Whelan, CW-448000-01, -25, reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC.


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Bernard Whelan Learning to Fly, Ca. 1913 (Source: NASM)
Bernard Whelan Learning to Fly, Ca. 1913 (Source: NASM)


Bernard Whelan landed once at Tucson, Thursday November 22, 1928 at 4:45PM. He carried two passengers, H.J. Weaver and G. Tanberry in the Ford 5-AT-A NX6926 (mfg. August 22, 1928). Based at Hartford, CT, they were westbound from El Paso, TX to Phoenix, AZ. They remained overnight in Tucson, departing northwest the next day.

Whelan was born at Cincinnati, OH on November 19, 1890. He died March 27, 1983 at 92 years old.

Whelan began flying at the earliest moments and succeeded in aviation through two world wars and beyond. Photo, left, from the Hartford (CT) Courant of January 18, 1959, shows Whelan learning to fly at the Wright Brothers' School in Dayton, OH. The news article below from the same source summarizes his career.

This article cites Whelan at the head of the line in learning to fly (he held FAI license #247), a prime mover in some of the pioneering aircraft manufacturing companies in the country, a developer of both fixed and rotary wing aircraft, and an early adopter of aviation for corporate transportation. He was also a flight instructor through WWII.

Hartford (CT) Courant, January 18, 1959 (Source: NASM)
Hartford (CT) Courant, January 18, 1959 (Source: NASM)

We note mention near the bottom of the second column of this article the use of a Ford trimotor for executive transportation. This is probably the Ford that he brought to Tucson while working for Pratt & Whitney in Hartford, CT. Another article describing Whelan's flight instruction in Dayton is at the link (4 pp., PDF 715kB). This is a great article to read to get a feel for what it was like to learn at the Wright Brothers' School in 1913.

Below, from site visitor Jeff Staines, a U.S. postal cachet signed by Whelan and dated May 21, 1929, just months after he visited Tucson. This cachet commemorates Lindbergh Day at Hartford.

Bernard Whelan, U.S. Postal Cachet, May 21, 1929 (Source: Staines)
Bernard Whelan, U.S. Postal Cachet, May 21, 1929 (Source: Staines)

Whelan was President of The Early Birds of Aviation, Inc. January 1, 1962 to December 31, 1962. His biographical information on the Early Birds Web site is another source of photographs and articles.


Dossier 2.1.166


The Register
I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Whelan and his airplane 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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