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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.

---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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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, or use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author.  ISBN 978-0-9843074-4-9.


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


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Don Z. Zimmerman, West Point Yearbook, 1929 (Source: Woodling)
Don Z. Zimmerman, West Point Yearbook, 1929 (Source: Woodling)



D.Z. Zimmerman was was born November 25, 1903, the son of John Zimmerman and Zilpha Zula Zabriskie. He died May 11, 1983. An official Air Force biography is available at the link. He appears to have enjoyed high intelligence, being admitted to the University of Oregon at age 15 after graduating from high school. After a bachelor's and master's degree there, he then received an appointment to West Point. He distinguished himself with high grades, responsible duties and in 1929 graduated 6th in his class of 299. Image, right, from his West Point yearbook for 1929.

The Sunday Oregonian, June 2, 1929 reported that Zimmerman, of Portland, was, "... voted the most popular man in his class." The article goes on to enumerate the long list of sports and other activities in which he excelled. His chosen field was the engineers, with a detail to the air corps. Zimmerman was one of seven Oregonians to graduate from West Point that June.

After West Point he was assigned to March Field, then received his Army wings at Kelly Field, TX. From 1931-34 he served at Luke Field, T.H. At some point he must have traveled to or been assigned to the Philippines, because he married Marion Elizabeth Doherty in Manila on July 15, 1932. They had three children born between 1933 and 1940.

Upon return to the U.S. he was assigned to attend the California Institute of Technology (CIT) where, for the Army, he studied meteorology and received a master of science degree (his fourth academic degree) in 1936. It was during his CIT studies that Zimmerman landed once at Tucson, Saturday, September 14, 1935 at 11:35AM. Based at Riverside, CA, March Field, he was eastbound from Riverside to El Paso, TX. He was solo in and unidentified Boeing P-12-D. He remained on the ground until 12:20PM before continuing eastward. No purpose was cited in the Register for his trip.






Under the category of "unusual experiences," his Air Force biography cites a spectacular airplane accident that Zimmerman and his passenger survived. It is described as follows.

In July 1931, while flying a Thomas Morse O-19, the first Air Corps plane with a metal fuselage, during a dive bombing training mission, the bomb release gear stuck and while attempting an abrupt pull out, the airplane grazed the ground, did three complete rolls and lit right side up minus the landing gear and with the upper wing sagging down on the lower wings of the biplane. The engine was located a quarter of a mile down the beach. The officers and men on the ground at the bombing range rushed to the wreck expecting to find Lieutenant Zimmerman dead. When they arrived, he was crawling back to the cockpit looking for the first sergeant who had been thrown back to the conical tail section of the metal fuselage. Both survived the crash due to the ruggedness of the new metal fuselage."

This spectacular crash was documented in the Morning Oregonian, July 2, 1931, below.

Morning Oregonian, July 2, 1931 (Source: Woodling)
Morning Oregonian, July 2, 1931 (Source: Woodling)


Interestingly, this same issue of the Morning Oregonian provided a hat trick of information for Register flyers. First was the Zimmerman article at left. Second, it was reported in a full-page spread, with a map, that Register signers Wiley Post and Harold Gatty had arrived in New York after their around-the-world flight. Third, preparations for the non-stop refueling hop from Seattle, WA to Japan (ultimately unsuccessful) by Reg Robbins flying the "Fort Worth," NR7429, were reported. The Golden Age was a very busy time for aviation.

Broad details of Zimmerman's career through WWII are at the biography linked above. By 1955, Zimmerman rose to the rank of Brigadier General and became the first dean of the faculty at the Air Force Academy when it opened that year.



The Register

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

Thanks to site visitor Bob Woodling for contributing research to this page.



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. ISBN 978-0-9843074-2-5.


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