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This information comes from the biographical file for pilot Zinn, CZ-590000-01, reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC.


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When the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register database is alphabetized by pilot last names, George Zinn has the distinction of being last. He wasn't always last, though, because he placed a respectable 10th in the 1928 National Air Races (NAR) called that year "On to Los Angeles".

Images, below, courtesy of Andy Heins (right sidebar). Zinn, right, is in his early 20s.

George Zinn, Right; Other Gentleman, Date & Location Unknown (Source: Heins)
George Zinn, Right, Other Gentleman, Date & Location Unknown

Zinn was from a well-known family from Rydal, PA, northeast of Philadelphia. His grandfather was Brig. Gen. George Zinn who was a leader of the Union Army during the Civil War. His father, Captain George Zinn, was a wealthy sportsman, who during WWI, demonstrated the construction and uses of the Browning machine gun to the units of the American Expeditionary Forces in the U.S. and in France.

Zinn's Waco ATO, NC688N (Source: Heins)
Zinn's Waco ATO, NC688N

Pilot Zinn landed at Tucson September 9, 1928 amidst the flurry of activity that was the trans-continental Class A event of the 1928 NAR. He flew an OX-5-powered Challenger airplane, NC7040. His Register entry implies he was solo, but it is known that he participated in the race with George Hand. Zinn and, probably, Hand arrived westbound from Lordsburg, NM on their way to Los Angeles, CA as competitors in the NAR.

The NASM dossier for pilot Zinn is very sparse. It contains a single article from the New York Times of Monday, October 20, 1930 (with dateline 10/19). It is an obituary for the 23-year old Zinn. He died in an airplane accident. According to Russ Plehinger, Zinn and Richard W. "Bert" Mackie were killed in a mid-air collision during a free-for-all race at Trenton, New Jersey. Zinn was flying a Waco ATO, NC-688N (above; not a Register airplane), and Mackie was flying a Cessna monoplane.

Below, the tragic sequence of events that led to the demise of George Zinn and his Waco. These three images are shared with us by Andy Heins (credit, right sidebar). The first image shows the impact of Zinn's Waco (rearmost) and Mackie's airplane (missing the empennage).

Moments After Mid-Air Strike, October 19, 1930 (Source: Heins)
Moments After Mid-Air Strike, October 19, 1930

Below, Zinn's Waco a split second before hitting the ground. In this image, and the image above, you can see the remains of Mackie's empennage wedged between the upper wing and fuselage of Zinn's Waco.

George Zinn, Waco, October 19, 1930 (Source: Heins)
George Zinn, Waco, October 19, 1930

Below, the aftermath of the mid-air collision. We can hope, mercifully, Mackie's empennage struck Zinn and rendered him unconscious before this final scene.

George Zinn, Aftermath, October 19, 1930 (Source: Heins)
George Zinn, Aftermath, October 19, 1930

The Times states, "Zinn was 23 years old and had been flying as an amateur for about two years. He was well known locally and formerly owned the Rainbow Airfield at Washington's Crossing near Trenton. Three weeks ago he won third place in a race at an amateur sportsmen's meet at Patco Field, near Philadelphia....

"Before today's crash Zinn had been in only one other air accident. That occurred in 1928, when a plane in which he was carrying two passengers cracked up at Washington's Crossing. The same year, with George Hand, he represented Trenton in the transcontinental air race."

This isn't the only horrible end for a Register airplane or pilot. Direct your browser to NC5559.


Dossier 2.1.181

UPLOADED: 02/04/08 REVISED: 03/12/08, 04/24/08, 09/21/11

The Register
President (as of the revision date of this page) Andy Heins of the National Waco Club sent the images at left. Andy  runs the day to day business of the Club, and we should all thank him for the effort he expended to help us understand better the Waco aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield.
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