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Author Topic: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936  (Read 54524 times)

Kevin A. Roll

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #45 on: October 10, 2016, 03:36:12 PM »

While we're on a roll, can we identify the location for the photo provisionally placed at July 19 1936 in the timeline? Visible elements are: an unmarked 10E, sitting on a concrete pad, next to a building having at least 5 peaked roof sections adjacent to a large flat-roofed section, with a wire fence and grass along the opposite edge, trees in the background, and a diffuse plume of smoke on the horizon. The source is the Purdue archives, with no other information. Exactly where and when was this photo taken?

For starters, I disagree with the statement in the timeline that there are no markings. The Purdue page has a much larger view of the image and the numbers are visible on the port wing. They appear to be the 'NR' form, which would place the photo prior to Aug 2, correct?

Now let me track down that building.  ;)
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Daniel R. Brown

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #46 on: October 10, 2016, 03:52:13 PM »

You are correct sir, on the original Purdue photo at least "R16020" is visible under the wing. Not sure about an "N" though.

Dan
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Kevin A. Roll

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #47 on: October 10, 2016, 03:54:12 PM »

The answer may be right there in the photo from 1940 that I posted above. You can see that the large building in the center has ridges on the right (east) but not the left side. The little bit on the south side might be a recent addition that was not present in 1936. The fence on the left in the target image would make sense as this is the direction towards the airstrip.

I also note a small detail in the target photo: there is some sort of stand on the right side of the image labeled "DEPT 16". This led me to this page:

https://books.google.com/books?id=Xj074U6FMNQC&pg=PA27&lpg=PA27&dq=lockheed+dept+16&source=bl&ots=wUXMVYgLYy&sig=0Td5Y3rS09Ju52ttIDmYEdIvDAk&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiqiqmNmdHPAhVLQyYKHf1rBaw4ChDoAQgqMAI#v=onepage&q=lockheed%20dept%2016&f=false

...which confirms that there was in fact a Department 16 at Lockheed, although I have not been able to find out much about that. A few years later in the early 40s we find them building Vegas, so there could plausibly be a connection to the Electra.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #48 on: October 10, 2016, 05:57:00 PM »

You guys are doing great.  I have the following in a private email from forum reader John Hart:

Your debate about Burbank Airport is confusing Union with Turkey Crossing facilities.  The Electra Pics are obviously at Turkey Crossing, the old Empire China Plant, not Union Airport down the road where Lockheed moved in 1940.

http://wesclark.com/burbank/lockheed_aerial_1928_turkey_crossing.jpg

This map shows the relationship between Union Airport and Turkey Crossing in lower right at junction of railroad tracks:

http://www.pacificwrecks.com/airfields/usa/burbank/maps/map-burbank-1949.jpg

By 1940s it was known as Lockheed plant B-1and looked nothing like it did in 1936.

Lots of pictures on the wesclark.com website.

In this photo you can clearly see the windsock on the small curved-top hangar and the small dark shed to the right side:

http://wesclark.com/burbank/original_lockheed_plant_1928.jpg

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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #49 on: October 10, 2016, 06:00:35 PM »

The upshot of all this is that the series of photos we're discussing may well be the earliest pictures of the new airplane before it was moved over to Union Air Terminal for the press event on July 21.  The possible absence of the cockpit hatch in one photo may indicate that the photos predate full completion and inspection of the aircraft on July 19.
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Kevin A. Roll

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #50 on: October 10, 2016, 06:59:43 PM »

I found this photo:



It came from http://industriallosangeles.org/sites/lockheed.html and is titled Burbank Lockheed Plant Employees, Ansel Adams, 1940, Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library. The roofline and windows are identical to the Purdue photo. Now, instead of an empty ramp we see a busy yard with a gate and a road. I would say this is either a nearby part of the plant with identical architecture (possibly even the opposite end of the same building), or else the heavy development of the plant changed the scene from 1936-1940.
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Harbert William Davenport

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #51 on: October 11, 2016, 12:12:04 AM »

  The information supplied by John Hart, and posted by Ric above, shows that until 1940 the Lockheed plant was near where San Fernando Road jogs eastward to cross the railroad tracks, quite a way east of where the new Burbank airport and terminal were built in 1930.  That Lockheed facility location was called "Turkey Crossing."
  The fact that the Lockheed factory and adjacent airstrip were about a mile east of the Burbank airport in 1936 explains why Lockheed test pilot Elmer C. McLeod's logbook distinguishes "Lockheed" from "Burbank" in his entries for AE's Electra.  The relevant page is reproduced in the Timeline, under 20 July 1936.  McLeod's entire logbook for 1936 is accessible here: http://dmairfield.com/Collections/McLeod%20Collection/Log%20Books/19350627-19380202_Pilot_Log.pdf
    For July 20 McLeod wrote "First Test A & E Lockheed to Lockheed."  For July 21, 22, & 23 he wrote "Test - Lockheed."   For July 24, he wrote "Del Las Vegas, Nev." (On AE's 39th birthday he delivered the plane to Paul Mantz as her agent in Las Vegas.  Delivery in Las Vegas was a common ploy to avoid California state sales tax.)  For July 25 he wrote "Test Burbank to Burbank."  On Aug 5, 8, & 9, he wrote "Test Burbank."
   We may presume that after AE took ownership on July 24, her Electra was hangared at Mantz's facility.  I'm guessing that Mantz's hangar was adjacent to the Burbank airport (then Union Air Terminal).  So McLeod was continuing test flights after delivery, but out of the Burbank airport, rather than from the Lockheed plant.
   
H. Wm. (Bill) Davenport
3555R Prof of Philos, ret.
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #52 on: October 11, 2016, 06:57:51 AM »

   We may presume that after AE took ownership on July 24, her Electra was hangared at Mantz's facility.  I'm guessing that Mantz's hangar was adjacent to the Burbank airport (then Union Air Terminal).  So McLeod was continuing test flights after delivery, but out of the Burbank airport, rather than from the Lockheed plant. 

I think that's right.  The July 21 photo op was clearly shot at Burbank so the airplane was moved over to Union on, or prior to, that date.

Funny, but somehow it's really poignant to be able to look at these photos - which have always been just more photos of AE and her Electra - and suddenly see them in context and understand what's going on.  We see Amelia almost giddy, finally able to embrace her "realization of a dream."  This is why we do this research, to increase our understanding and achieve a cleared picture of historical events.
As we continue to place photos of the people and the aircraft in time and context, we'll learn more.  Never doubt that what you do here on this Forum is historically important.  Thank you.
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Kurt Kummer

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #53 on: October 12, 2016, 10:37:13 PM »

There's a great website called "Abandoned and Little-Known Airfields" by Paul Freeman.

http://www.airfields-freeman.com/

If you click on "California" and then "San Fernando Area" you'll be able to scroll down to a great deal of information about Lockheed's airfield in Burbank.  There are interesting photos, maps and stories about the airfield from a 1930 aerial view to a 2004 USGS photo of it now:  a shopping center.

Fair warning:  once you take a look at this wonderful website you may be looking at it for hours and hours!
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Harbert William Davenport

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #54 on: October 13, 2016, 12:50:19 AM »

Thank you, thank you, Kurt Kummer!  All is now clear, from all those maps you found for us, as to exactly where the Lockheed airstrip was in 1936, in relation to the Burbank-United-Union-Lockheed Air Terminal!
  I had come across that Paul Freeman website, but had not thought to look for Burbank under San Fernando.  And I took statements that Lockheed was "adjacent to" the Burbank airport to apply to 1936, when in fact Lockheed did not build there until 1940 when they bought it for their major expansion.
  In July 1936, the Lockheed factory and its adjacent airstrip were about a mile away from the new Burbank airport, where Earhart would be housing her new Electra with Paul Mantz's United Air Services.  So Lockheed test pilot E. C. McLeod had to take off from the Lockheed airstrip and land the plane at the Burbank airport, aka United Airport or Union Air Terminal, in order to deliver it to Earhart for its public debut there on July 21.  (I had erroneously imagined its being taxied from one side of the airfield to the other.)
   So the set of photos we began investigating, including both the iconic AE striding and the AE with arms-outstretched-touching-the-props, were all taken in front of the small hangar at the original Lockheed plant, adjacent to the Lockheed airstrip, in the locale known as Turkey Crossing in Burbank.
   As to what date they were taken, the presence of the belly antenna implies that they were taken later than July 21, when the belly antenna appears to be absent in the photos. (See Ric's post below.) McLeod's logbook last mentions a Lockheed test flight on July 23.  (Of course it's possible the plane was back at the Lockheed plant, at some later date, without that having been recorded in McLeod's logbook.)
    And apparently, they were taken in the mid-afternoon, judging from the shadows of the props cast on the cowlings by the sun in the west.
   
H. Wm. (Bill) Davenport
3555R Prof of Philos, ret.
 
« Last Edit: October 14, 2016, 06:23:02 PM by Harbert William Davenport »
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #55 on: October 13, 2016, 06:59:17 AM »

I guess all that remains now is for someone more computer literate than me to add some dots/arrows to the best airfield/factory photograph closest to the putative date of the AE photographs.  This has been a really fun exercise!

Ok Ric, we're ready for the next question :)
Bill Mangus
Researcher #3054SP
 
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #56 on: October 14, 2016, 10:18:07 AM »

One more mystery.  In the photos taken at Turkey Crossing, the belly antenna wire is present. In the Burbank press event photos, the belly wire is gone.  McLeod's logbook shows that the airplane did not return to "Lockheed" before the registration numbers were corrected to X16020, so the Turkey Crossing photos must precede the photos taken at the press event at Burbank on 7-21-36. Why, I wonder, was the belly antenna removed?
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Daniel R. Brown

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #57 on: October 14, 2016, 12:25:55 PM »

Well, if there were no radios on the 19th and no antennas on the 21st, I'd hazard that any photo showing a radio antenna was taken after the 21st. Before the 24th McLeod's logbook shows only Lockheed (Turkey Crossing) and after the 24th only Burbank (Union) but we know the plane moved back and forth between them on other instances, such as to Union from Turkey Crossing for the photo op on the 21st.

Dan Brown, #2408
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #58 on: October 14, 2016, 12:41:37 PM »

Well, if there were no radios on the 19th and no antennas on the 21st, I'd hazard that any photo showing a radio antenna was taken after the 21st.

I agree.  There is no mention of radios in the July 19th inspection report.  There were no antennas on the 21st.  The belly antenna is present in the Turkey Crossing photos.  The Turkey Crossing photos were probably taken after the 21st.

Before the 24th McLeod's logbook shows only Lockheed (Turkey Crossing) and after the 24th only Burbank (Union) but we know the plane moved back and forth between them on other instances, such as to Union from Turkey Crossing for the photo op on the 21st.

I see two possibilities:
•  Some Lockheed pilot other than McLeod (chief pilot Babe Headle?) flew the airplane.  I don't think Lockheed would let Paul Mantz fly their airplane while they owned it.
•  It was possible to taxi between the two airports in which case no flight would be logged (less likely).
« Last Edit: October 14, 2016, 12:44:28 PM by Ric Gillespie »
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Harbert William Davenport

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #59 on: October 14, 2016, 03:38:23 PM »

I truly dislike having to make things even more complicated, but I think we have some reason to suspect that McLeod's logbook is not completely accurate in all details.
  Take the designation on the plane:  in his logbook, McLeod has 'X' for all 6 July dates, July 20 thru 25; for all 4 August dates, he wrote 'NR.'  But that is contradicted by the datable newspaper photos, which show 'NR' on the plane on July 21, and 'X' in San Francisco on Aug 3.  (It is as though he wrote 'X' in July when he knew that was what it was supposed to be, and then come August he decided to go with what he had seen on the plane in July, just about the time the 'NR' on the plane got painted over with an 'X,' possibly just in time for the Aug 2 flight to San Francisco.)
   That brings me to the second discrepancy I have noticed in McLeod's logbook.  We see that he logged flights on Aug 2 & 3 on another plane, but not one with 16020; & on the previous page 9, he logged flights on Aug 2 & 3 on yet another plane, but not 16020.  Then for Aug 7, he logged a one-day 16020 flight to & from San Fran.  From the news report and photo in the Aug 3 Oakland Tribune, we know that he and AE were in San Fran and Alameda on Aug 3, and they told the press that they had flown into SF the night before from Burbank, in one hour & 55 mins.
    As to the Lockheed versus Burbank airport entries, I'm inclined to think McLeod's logbook may have the airports right, with the possible exception of July 24 and July 25.  I don't think Lockheed would have let AE park the Electra overnight with Mantz until after she became the legal owner on July 24.  And I also suspect that there was still work being done on the plane at the Lockheed plant, which would have made it much more convenient for the plane to be left there overnight, even on the nights of July 24 and 25, after AE was the legal owner.
    Given the distance between the Lockheed airstrip and the Union airport, I agree with Ric that it's very unlikely the Electra could have been taxied or towed between the two.  P-38s were reportedly towed from one to the other down Empire Street during the middle of the night in the war years, but that was a rather different situation, right?
    Bottom line:  I don't think it's safe to conclude from McLeod's logbook alone, whether or not AE's Electra was at the Lockheed plant on any given date.  I think Ric is right, that our first hypothesis should be that first there was no belly antenna, and later there was one.  That gives us July 22 and 23 as the most likely dates, I think.
H. Wm. (Bill) Davenport
3555R Prof of Philos, ret.
 
« Last Edit: October 15, 2016, 11:18:12 AM by Harbert William Davenport »
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