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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.


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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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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North Platte Airfield was a 160-acre, triangular plot of turf, established as a landing field in 1921 (see below). Below, from this REFERENCE, page 119, is a description of the facility published by the U.S. government in 1937.

North Platte, NB, Facility Directory, 1937 (Source: Webmaster)

An aerial photograph taken ca. 1938 is below from this REFERFENCE, page 174, shows the roughly triangular area with the North Platte River wandering at the left. A building that looks like the hangar in the next photo below is at the north apex of the triangle.

North Platte, NB, Airport Directory, 1938 (Source: Webmaster)

Curiously, in this REFERENCE from 1933, similar to the one just above, the North Platte Airfield is not included in the documentation. It was an operating port at that time, but didn't make the cut for inclusion in this reference.

The photo below is a postcard image of airfield buildings, ca. 1930s (see the automobile). Of interest is the beacon visible above the hangar building at right, the control tower, center, and weather instruments above the hangar building. The white cupola on stilts in front of the house is probably an official government weather station. Notice the buttresses around the hangar building. North Platte lay on a significant east-west, transcontinental airmail route. "New York" appears to the left of airfield name, and "Frisco" on the right.

North Platte, NB Air Mail Field, Ca. 1930s (Source: Web)

Below, from the official Web site of the North Platte Field, is a brief history of the location.

Named The North Platte Field, the airport was constructed in 1921 with private funds to serve the needs of the U.S. Air Mail Service. The first terminal and hangar buildings were constructed on the east side of the North Platte River, near the river bridge, just south of Highway 30.

Using fuel burning barrels to demarcate the perimeter, the airfield became the site of the first night airmail flight on February 22, 1921, when the daring Jack Knight flew a night segment of the first transcontinental airmail flight. That flight originated on the west coast when two airmail planes left San Francisco at 4:30 a.m. heading east.  Shortly after takeoff one of the planes crashed, leaving the other to carry on eastward. After several fuel stops and three changes of pilots, the plane landed in North Platte at 7:48 p.m. where Jack Knight was waiting to take his turn in piloting the mail to Omaha. Knight had to wait until 10:44 p.m. while mechanics repaired a broken tail skid before guiding the big De Haviland 4 aircraft into the sea of darkness and heavy clouds toward Omaha.

Without any modern navigation aids, Jack landed in a wintry-cold Omaha at 1:15 a.m., where he was informed by the Omaha field manager that the plane and pilot which was to have met him in Omaha had been grounded by snow somewhere between Omaha and Chicago. Not wanting the transcontinental flight to end in failure, Jack decided to challenge the 435 miles of unfamiliar territory to Chicago. He left at 2 a.m. with a road map, and one and one-half hours later arrived in Des Moines in a driving snow storm. From there, barely skimming over the earth, he finally located Iowa City with only ten minutes of gas remaining but couldn't find the airport. The ground  crew, having thought all flights were cancelled, had gone home. Only the night watchman remained and had the sense to run to the center of the airfield and light a red flare or Knight would not have been able to land, refuel, and continue his daring flight to Chicago.

Jack finally arrived in Chicago at 8:40 a.m., after flying over 700 miles - mostly in total darkness. From there the mail was flown into Cleveland and then to Long Island just thirty-three hours and twenty minutes after having left San Francisco - thanks to the incredible bravery and flying determination of Jack Knight.

The airfield was eventually purchased by the City of North Platte in 1929 and leased to the Boeing Transport Company, one of the entities which would later merge to form United Airlines. In 1941, additional runways were constructed and the airfield became the site of a B-17 training command during WW II.

1941 was also the year the airport was renamed Lee Bird Field after the son of a North Platte pioneer family who was killed training as a military pilot in 1918. The airport has been operated as an Airport Authority since July, 1963. In recognition of the fact that airline passengers and aircraft owners are drawn to the airport from a large geographic area, the airport was renamed North Platte Regional Airport Lee Bird Field in June of 1992.



The Register

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


Only two pilots called North Platte home, or identified it as a destination. They were L.F. Jones, who signed the Peterson Field Register, and a pilot identified only as "Gredist," who signed the Davis-Monthan Register.



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.


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.  Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. ISBN 978-0-9843074-1-8.


Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race is available at the link. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author. 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. ISBN 978-0-9843074-3-2.


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