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Author Topic: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936  (Read 55974 times)

Arthur Rypinski

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #15 on: October 05, 2016, 06:12:06 PM »

Attached pls find a clip from the Coast & Geodetic Survey 1935 Airway map, courtesy of the NOAA historical charts site.

http://historicalcharts.noaa.gov/historicals/preview/image/133-06-1935

There are two airports at Las Vegas, the official one, and another, probably much smaller strip called "Bulldog," close to boulder dam.    I wouldn't bet on Bulldog, but it isn't impossible.

adr
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Arthur Rypinski

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2016, 06:23:50 PM »

unfortunately, there is no USGS topo map coverage of Las Vegas for the relevant period, at least as can be found on-line in "topoviewer."
http://ngmdb.usgs.gov/maps/TopoView/viewer/#4/40.01/-100.06

Las Vegas was mapped by USGS in 1908, and apparently not again until 1952.  By 1952, the airport area had been massively built up.

adr 
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Arthur Rypinski

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2016, 07:46:15 PM »

So, "Bulldog" is actually Bullock Airport, later Boulder City Airport.  It was apparently built to support construction of Boulder Dam, and had scheduled air service from 1936 to 1949, with a TWA terminal built in 1938.  There were apparently 3 x 4,000' runways, all dirt, and a number of adjacent buildings.

Here is a site with some historical maps and pictures:
http://www.airfields-freeman.com/NV/Airfields_NV_LasVegas.htm#bouldercity

adr
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #18 on: October 06, 2016, 10:53:42 AM »

I received this from Illana Short, Nevada State Museum, Las Vegas a few minutes ago:

"I wanted to follow up with your  request for information regarding a visit from Amelia Earhart to Las Vegas in July, 1936.  In 1936, the only airfield in Las Vegas was on property that currently now belongs to Nellis Air Force Base. The first private airfield, Sky Haven, did not open until December 7, 1941. I also checked newspaper records from both of the Las Vegas newspapers that were active in 1936, and there was no mention of a visit from Earhart in either newspaper. The Las Vegas Review did have two articles about Earhart, but they were from 1932 and 1935. So, if she had visited in 1936 it would have been a major news story and covered by the newspaper. Finally, in looking at the photographs that you provided, the scenery does not match photographs from Las Vegas at the time. The settlement in the background isn’t right, and no mountains are visible in the photograph. Also, the weeds and plants don’t appear to be from our desert landscape."

Have to reconsider CA someplace, I guess.
Bill Mangus
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #19 on: October 06, 2016, 11:49:45 AM »

So, "Bulldog" is actually Bullock Airport, later Boulder City Airport.  It was apparently built to support construction of Boulder Dam, and had scheduled air service from 1936 to 1949, with a TWA terminal built in 1938.  There were apparently 3 x 4,000' runways, all dirt, and a number of adjacent buildings.

Here is a site with some historical maps and pictures:
http://www.airfields-freeman.com/NV/Airfields_NV_LasVegas.htm#bouldercity

adr

The hangar that still exists at Boulder City has a pitched roof, while the hangar in the photos of AE has a curved roof so I don't think that the AE photos were taken in Boulder City.  Maybe there was another hangar there, but ...

Also, the photos of the TWA hangar in the website you link also has a curved roof line, so I think those photos are not all accurate in that they are of Boulder City airport.

Andrew
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James Champion

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #20 on: October 06, 2016, 01:31:04 PM »

Did Amelia really go to Las Vegas, specifically, to receive the Electra for tax purposes, or just to the general area near Las Vegas, or just over the state line into Nevada?

Also, does anyone have access to a vintage antique Jeppesen book listing airports. He first published an initial version of his 'little black book' of airport information around 1934 our of his basement in Utah. Since he lived nearby, he may have a fairly complete listing of airports, even minor ones, in that part of the west. It might even have a description of the airport surface that matches what is in the photos - unpaved, dirt, no rocks, no grass, weeds and sage, houses nearby.

I've never seen an early Jeppesen, but from what I've heard it might have details that will help identify the airport, such as houses within walking distance where one might find a phone, transportation into town,  a place to stay, or help and/or fuel. The airport of the photos looks somewhat inactive. The weeds are up and are not flattened from traffic, taxing, or dead from the shade of parked airplanes. The low camera position makes the hanger look overgrown, because the camera is positioned right down on the ground. The hanger doesn't appear to have much in it, but there is visible the root rib of a large wing.
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Arthur Rypinski

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #21 on: October 06, 2016, 04:57:17 PM »

Andrew-
I think you have the right answer, but for the wrong reasons.  So, there were two hangers  , a curved roof hanger, shown in the 1938 "TWA" photo, and a slightly later, pitched roof, "Navy" hanger, presumably built during World War II.  The Navy hanger is still present, but the curved roof hanger disappeared between 1980 and 1994. 

However, on the Freeman website, if you look at the tri-motor photo dated 7/29/1936 (!) you will see a little shed with a sunshade and a sign, described as "Boulder City Airport Waiting Room."  Behind the waiting room, you can see mountains.  Moving on to the 1938 TWA photo, you can see that same shed, only now it is sitting right in front of the curved roof hanger.  I conclude that 1) the curved roof hanger WAS at Boulder City Airport;  2) the curved roof hanger didn't exist on 7/29/1936, and 3) therefore, AE couldn't have been standing in front of it in July or August 1936.

adr
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Daniel R. Brown

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #22 on: October 07, 2016, 06:03:32 PM »

I'm certain now that the photos were taken at Burbank. There's a photo of c/n 1060 VH-UXH in front of the same hangar: "This shot is from the Pete Clukey collection and came from Lockheed Aircraft (now Lockheed Martin) files. It depicts VH-UXH at a very sparse and barren Burbank in 1936 prior to its shipment to Guinea Airways." Source: edcoatescollection.com.

Dan Brown, #2408
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Bruce Thomas

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #23 on: October 07, 2016, 06:45:49 PM »

I'm certain now that the photos were taken at Burbank. There's a photo of c/n 1060 VH-UXH in front of the same hangar: "This shot is from the Pete Clukey collection and came from Lockheed Aircraft (now Lockheed Martin) files. It depicts VH-UXH at a very sparse and barren Burbank in 1936 prior to its shipment to Guinea Airways." Source: edcoatescollection.com.

Dan Brown, #2408

I was curious to read the full narrative for the photo you've found for VH-UXH, and in doing so I discovered this sentence in the long writeup about a second picture shown as part of that aircraft's history:
Quote
The name on the nose is "C.J. Levien" in honor of the founder of Guinea Airways, and there also appears to be a blemish to the aircraft's skin aft of this name
That reminds me of the suggestion earlier in this thread that there was a similar dent in the nose of Amelia's aircraft, to which Ric responded that it was just a reflection of the port engine. So it's interesting to see that another similar aircraft has caused someone else to see a dent in the aluminum skin, when in fact it's just a reflection of the engine.
LTM,

Bruce
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Arthur Rypinski

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #24 on: October 08, 2016, 08:38:22 AM »

Bingo!  That hanger in the VH-UXY photo sure does look familiar.  Also, note the row of buildings, trees, and electric power pole and electric power pole in the background of the second photo.  This is a suburban location with more water than most of Southern Nevada.

Also, there are several aspects to the AE photos that strongly suggest that they are not snapshots, but rather the product of a photo session with a professional photographer:

1)  The composition of the photographs is deliberately dramatic, staged by someone with an eye for visual effects.
2)  The resolution is very high--probably reflecting the use of a 4x5.  I think it would be difficult to produce those results in the 1930s with a small-format camera.
3)  Note that in the first photo, the photographer actually got his camera (and presumably himself) right down to ground level to compose the shot.  the photographer is willing to get down and dirty to create the picture that is already in his head.
4)  Compositing the clouds into the background takes a certain amount of darkroom skill and probably a fair amount of trial-and-error to match the exposure.  It suggests both skill and motivation.  Note that there are two suns:  one behind the clouds, and a second sun casting shadows in the direction of the first sun.

adr
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Friend Weller

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #25 on: October 08, 2016, 10:04:03 AM »

I'm not where I can look anything up right now but from the photo with the smoke, black smoke in a city setting usually means a structure fire of some sort. Perhaps with a date range in mind a news paper clipping might report on a fire that would correspond to what we see in the distance of that photo. Based on a guesstimate of the time of day we think the photo to have been taken would also give a direction from the airfield that the fire took place.
Friend
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #26 on: October 08, 2016, 10:45:11 AM »

I think Arthur is right.  Look at the windsock on the top of the hanger; look at the diagonal pole on the right front corner appearing to hold up the hanger (it's  probably not really!); look at the vertical boards/slats/composition of the front wall above the hanger door.

You don't see the mountains behind NR16020 because of the camera position.

The date and time of day may be a little in question but I think we've nailed down the location.
Bill Mangus
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« Last Edit: October 08, 2016, 10:56:00 AM by Bill Mangus »
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Harbert William Davenport

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #27 on: October 08, 2016, 02:29:26 PM »

Thanks and kudos to Dan Brown for finding that hangar in Burbank!
   Friend Weller suggests using the dark smoke in one photo to help with the dating.  I have one possibility that falls within the time window.  The front page of the Los Angeles Times for Monday Aug 3, 1936 carried a story about a fire the previous day at a Standard Oil refinery and tank farm in El Segundo, which I think was not far from present-day LAX.  The story states that "the black smoke clouds" from the fire "spread over the countryside."  The cause of the smoke was burning aviation fuel from a large tank that had exploded.
   I think the direction of El Segundo from the Burbank airport would have been roughly south-south-west.  If someone tells me that that is not the direction shown in our photo, well, it will not be the first nor last of my wild guesses to have gone up in smoke...
   (I have made a pdf clipping of the L A Times article using newspapers.com, but so far I have not found a working link to it.)
   
H. Wm. (Bill) Davenport
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #28 on: October 08, 2016, 02:40:07 PM »

The Timeline Document for 2 August 1936 says:

"Flight from Burbank to Mills Field Alameda/San Francisco with McLeod. Stayed overnight in SF. Source: “Amelia Earhart in Test Flight Here”, Oakland Tribune, Monday August 3, 1936."

It's plausible the pictures could have been taken that morning before they left. 

Arthur's idea that they were taken by a professional photographer is a good one.  These pictures have been out in the public for years, although some are trying to make money off of them.    At this late date it is probably impossible to determine who took them and who "owns" them.  Did Mantz have a photographer working for him?
Bill Mangus
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Friend Weller

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Re: Research needed -Las Vegas airport in 1936
« Reply #29 on: October 08, 2016, 02:51:52 PM »

The smoke plume in that photo is too well-defined to have come from El Segundo and still look like a column of smoke. From that distance it would be more a part of the Southland's haze and smog.  I'd offer that the source of the smoke is within a mile from thd camera. Additionally, photo appears to have been taken in the afternoon so I'd guess the smoke to be east of the airfield (I grew up not far from Burbank and understand the lay of the topography and seasonal sun angles), again within a mile or two.  I think we're close on this one folks....
Friend
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