Ford Air Tour in 1930


Page 1. 35 Planes To Stop Here At Noon Sunday. Bleacher Seats Provided for Crowds Expected at Port. Three Judges Named. Last Year Winner Leads Cavalcade Into Wausau Stop. City aviation chieftains last night planned to the minutest detail methods to handle here Sunday the 35 planes of the National Air tour which this morning await the starter’s flag at Wausau, Wis. to send them on to Eau Claire, Duluth and Grand Forks. J. H. McNicol, in general charge of local tour arrangements outlined steps already taken to furnish all things required here for the 18 contesting planes and the 17 escort craft in the 16-day flight which began at Detroit Thursday. A check up with heads of tour committees at the meeting revealed that practically everything had already been done and that the tour could be efficiently handled today if that were necessary.

In addition to Mr. McNicol, committee heads and others present who have been active in supporting tour plans were John L. Hulteng, president of the city commission, who will act as one of the three judges for the tour; Commissioner Henry Holt, E. L. Lium, city engineer; Don Whitman, chairman of tour finances; H. H. Healy, L. B. Hiler, J. Myron Bacon, Walter Hawkins, H. E. Foley, George Wilder, Ed Stinson and W. W. Blain. Airport visitors were not forgotten in making plans for the tour. Admission to the port will be free but those who desire further accommodations may occupy bleachers now being set up, for a nominal charge made to cover the expense of erecting the seats. The official radio plane of the tour, piloted by Captain Billy will broadcast news of the progress of the tour and to receive these announcements, loud speakers will be set up from which the tour events may be heard by everyone at the airport. Further arrangements with (KKFM?), local broadcasting station,

Page 2. have been made so that residents of the Grand Forks area may sit in their own homes if they so desire, and hear the tour announcements over their radio sets. In checking plans, Mr. McNicol found that the airport had been marked for the guidance of tour pilots, bleachers would be up when needed, parking arrangements were completed, and officials were ready to furnish gas and oil for planes and a hot lunch for tour pilots and passengers. Other arrangements were made for handling customs inspection through plane, pilot and passenger lists to be submitted by air tour officials who will arrive well in advance of the main flight which is due here at noon Sunday. Two messenger boys will be assigned to the airport Sunday morning to handle messages to be sent or received by the tour group. John Livingston, last year’s winner, led the 18 contesting ships into Wausau from Davenport Friday afternoon. He completed the 230-mile leg between the two cities in an hour and 30 minutes and was followed in by Art Davis and Wesley Smith.

Two Crack Up. Two crack ups marked the landings at Davenport. An airplane piloted by Lee Schoenhair, assistant tour scorer, nosed over, damaging wings and propeller and another piloted by Walter Lees crashed when its brakes locked. All occupants of the airplanes were uninjured. Mrs. Frank Hawks, wife of the trans-continental speed record was in Schoenhair’s plane and Captain Ray Collins, manager of the tour, was a passenger with Lees. Schoenhair, Mrs. Hawks and Collins continued the flight in other planes. Lees remained in Davenport while repairs were made to his ship. Livingston, leading the tour into Wausau on its 4,500 mile itinerary, hails from Aurora, Ills. Among celebrated pilots entered in the tour are L. Ponton De Acre, and Stuart Chadwich, former war aviators; Eddie Schneider, 18, junior trans-continental record holder. (Grand Forks Herald, Saturday, September 13, 1930, Volume XLIX, Number 272)

Explains Tour. A statement made by Mr. McNicol on behalf of the Commercial club aviation committee follows: “The National Reliability Air tour, stopping for their noon control at the Grand Forks airport Sunday, September 14, is a mark of distinction and appreciation for the local port. The original plan did not have our city included as a tour stop so we feel fortunate that the change has been made. This was brought about through the active co-operation and work of our city officials and Commercial club. While the tour is a contest, to us it will be an air show as well, coming at a time when people of Greater Grand Forks can meet and greet their neighbors from the country and surrounding towns who will be most welcome. No admission will be charged to the airport. There will be bleacher seats for those who desire them and for this there will be a nominal charge to cover their cost. We ask your co-operation in handling the car situation which will be in charge of a parking committee. The police department will direct traffic out on University avenue and back to the city on Skidmore avenue. These will be one-way streets.” (Grand Forks Herald, Saturday, September 13, 1930, Volume XLIX, Number 272, Page 1)
Page 1. City Ready To Greet Fliers In Noon Stop. Will Admit Spectators to Airport Free for Inspection of Ships. Coming From Duluth. 18 Pilots in Close Race for Prizes; Others Act as Escort. Thirty-five planes of the National Air tour will stop at the Grand Forks municipal airport at noon today, bringing aviation notables and famed pilots in the largest group of planes ever assembled in North Dakota. Air tour officials here say Grand Forks is fully prepared to accommodate not only the 18 planes contesting for the rich tour prizes, and the 17 escorting aircraft, but also the huge throng expected to view the air spectacle at the port. The plane fleet awaits the starter’s flag this morning at Duluth where yesterday the group helped that city dedicate its new $300,000 municipal airport. It is scheduled to leave the lake city at 10 A. M. and the first plane of the main flight is expected over the Grand Forks port at noon if weather conditions are favorable. Pilots and passengers will take lunch at the airport hangar here, planes will be gassed and oiled and about 2 P. M. the first plane is expected to take off for Winnipeg, the night control. The flight which started at Detroit Thursday, will go from Winnipeg into Western Canada Monday morning, then dip into the United States and return to Detroit by a more southerly route after a 16-day flight totaling 4,500 miles. National Air tour officials including Captain Frank Hawks, tour referee and Captain Ray Collins, tour manager, will fly ahead of the tour to Grand Forks to arrange in advance for timing and checking and customs clearances for the planes. Captain Hawks will fly his Mystery Travel Air monoplane with which he recently shattered East and West transcontinental air speed records. H. L. Russell, flying a Ford tri-

Page 2. motored ship, retained his lead in the tour, it was announced at a dinner in Duluth last night following the airport dedication. Russell’s points total 10,992. Other standings are as follows: M. E. Zeeler, Wasp, 10,666.3; George Haldeman, Bellanca, 10,638.6; Art Davis, Waco, 10,480.5; W. H. Beech, Curtis Kingbird, 10,427; John Livingston, Waco, 10,148.6; J. W. Smith, Bellanca, 9,398.6; E. Schneider, Cessna, 9,030; Les Bowman, Waco, 8,360.8; T. T. Wadlow, Travel Air, 8,247.9; J. B. Storey, Ken Royce, 8,151.4; B. Stevenson, Monocoupe, 7,890.5; L. Ruch, American Eagle, 7,418.9; W. J. Carr, Cabinaires, 7,095.4; Nancy Hopkins, Kitty Hawk, 6,861.7; C. W. Meyers, Great Lakes, 6,798.7; H. C. Mummert, Mercury, 5,611.2; George Meissner, Sikorsky Amphibian, 5,481.1.

Notables With Tour. Aviation notables with the tour include Clarence M. Young, assistant secretary for aeronautics of the United States department of commerce. Art Schlosser, national balloon race champion and former resident of Grand Forks is also with the tour and will greet old friends here. Famous pilots, besides Captain Hawks, include Lee Schoenhair, well known air record holder; Captain Billy Brock of New York-to-Tokio flight fame, and many others. The youngest contesting pilots are Eddie Schneider, junior trans-continental record holder and Miss Nancy Hopkins, Washington society girl. Schneider flies a Cessna monoplane and Miss Hopkins a Kitty Hawk biplane.

Arrangements Completed. Last minute arrangements to receive the tour were made Saturday evening by local tour committees under the direction of J. H. McNicol who is in general charge of tour arrangements here. Mr. McNicol is chairman of the Commercial club’s aviation committee which sponsored the flight stop in this city. Twelve policemen under the direction of Henry Holt, police commissioner, will be pressed into service to protect crowds from whirring propellers of planes and to direct traffic along roads leading to the flying field. He will be assisted by Henry Knudson, chief of police. Cars entering the parking space east of the airport fence and south of the entrance to the port, will be lined up in rows 20 feet apart by 12 Eagle Scouts, under the direction of Walter Hawkins, who is in charge of parking. Radio listeners in the Grand Forks area and visitors near loud speakers at the airport will experience a new thrill when for the first time they (will) hear a broadcast directly from a speeding plane as it zooms toward the local port at nearly 200 miles an hour. The broadcast will be made from the official radio ship of the tour by J. A. Chambers, technical director for WLW, Cincinnati radio station.

Ship is Flying Radio. The ship is described as a flying studio, equipped with a 150-watt transmitter, using call letters KHILO. Outstanding pilots and aviation notables also will be heard by visitors at the port. Each will be given an opportunity to address the crowd to give information about the tour in addition to entertainment. Among the entertainers will be Swanee Taylor, termed the “Will Rogers of Aviation,” who is a pilot with the tour. Taylor made announcements at the National Air races at Chicago this summer. Lime was laid around the 100 foot landing circle and finish and dead lines which mark the airport for the guidance of tour pilots. This work was supervised by E. L. Lium, city engineer. Bleachers were erected under the direction of Mr. Lium and J. C. Sherlock which may be occupied for a nominal sum by port visitors who desire to use them. Tables and chairs were placed on the new concrete floor in the airport hangar where George Wilder will direct the serving of a hot lunch to the visiting air tourists. He will be assisted by J. Myron Bacon.

Checkers Assigned. Thirty-five checkers, one assigned to each tour plane, will be in charge of Dr. H. H. Healy, head checker. He will see that checkers assigns each ship to its position on the deadline, that the plane is gassed and oiled and that the pilot and passengers get lunch promptly after they arrive. E. W. (Pop) Cleveland is chief starter and will time the arrival of the planes. His assistants will be Frank Waterbury, C. A. Hale, J. D. Bacon, W. Abrahamson and J. D. Turner. C. D. Page is in charge of tour arrangements which will be made through loud speakers erected at the airport. Tour judges are John L. Hulteng, president of the city commission, J. A. Dinnie and W. P. Davies. W. W. Blain, secretary of the Grand Forks Commercial club, has charge of tour finances. Under the direction of Mr. Blain, Don Whitman, chairman of the air tour finance committee, raised the $500 cash guarantee needed to bring the tour here in addition to money to buy and oil for the planes and lunch for the air visitors. (Grand Forks Herald, Saturday, September 14, 1930, Volume XLIX, Number 273)

Thousands Inspect Planes Of Air Tour in Stop Here. Clear Skies Greet Airmen at Grand Forks Port After Heavy Morning Rain; Hawks’ Mystery Ship Rouses Much Interest. Greeted by a mammoth crowd that had assembled long before the first ship arrived, pilots in the National air tour sped their planes across the timing line at the Grand Forks Municipal airport Sunday after flying through rain and clouds on the Duluth-Grand Forks leg of the tour which will take them 4,700 miles. After a stop of two hours for lunch, the planes hopped off for Winnipeg for an overnight rest. From the Manitoba city they went to Brandon Monday and stopped for the night in Regina, Sask. Clearing skies had replaced dripping clouds which soaked the crowd when Captain Frank Hawks Mystery ship suddenly shot across the port at 11:33 A. M. His plane led the 18 contesting planes and some 15 others into the city. John Livingston flew a Waco plane, first of the contesting ships, across the finish line about 12:05 P. M. He was followed at 12:06 P. M. by Art Davis in another Waco and others arrived at short intervals until 2:30 P. M. A few ships were forced down near Bemidji by low hanging clouds, the last of these arriving here about 3 P. M. but all contestants had left for the night control at Winnipeg an hour later. Last arrivals included Lee Schoenhair in a Waco and O. G. Harned in a Curtis Kingbird. Swanee Taylor, in an American Eagle plane, the “Will Rogers” of the tour, failed to arrive here although Duluth reports said he left that city on schedule. He was not one of the contestants and is believed to have taken some other route to join the others in Canada. Reports from Winnipeg Monday said that Harry Russell, with his Ford trimotored monoplane, was leading his rivals in the race. Byron Zeller, piloting another Ford trimotored ship was second. Art Davis was third. Walter Beech fourth, John Livingston fifth and George Haldeman sixth.

Activities Broadcast. Loud speaker and radio equipment gave the crowds here news of the arrival and departure of the planes. Other news of the tour’s progress to Winnipeg was brought back to the crowd from the official radio ship, piloted by Captain Billy Brock. Trucks of local oil companies met arriving planes as they taxied to the deadline in front of the hangar after crossing the finish line, and serviced them with gas and oil. More than 70 pilots and passengers with the tour had lunch at tables in the airport hangar while planes were serviced and customs clearances prepared for the flight into Canada. The crowd began gathering about 9 A. M. to gain favorable parking positions along the east fence of the airport from which to view the tour. At 10:30 A. M. the parking space extending nearly a half mile south from the hangar was nearly filled and a crowd which overflowed the east edge of the part and sat in cars up to a half mile away from the flying field, was on hand when Captain Hawks sped into view.

Hawks Provides Sensation. Hawks’ flying was the sensation of the day. Racing over the crowd at nearly 200 miles an hour, Hawks circled the port, banked sharply upward and then zoomed into the sky in an almost vertical climb. After a short series of dizzy banks and upward climbs, Hawks again circled the port and set down his speed ship on the flying field at over 60 miles an hour. The plane rocked from side to side as the wheels touched the field but an opened throttle straightened its course and Hawks came to a smooth stop near the west edge of the port. Taxiing back toward the hangar, Hawks and his plane were the center of interest until other ships began to arrive. Again when Hawks took off shortly before 2 o’clock, the crowd, let into the flying field to inspect the ships, gathered about the Mystery ship for a last look as he took off and sped into the north. The crowd showed much interest in the “Flying Grocery Store,” huge tri-motored ship piloted by (Crazy) Johns who visited Grand Forks a few weeks ago. Among Johns’ passengers were Captain Ray Collins, tour manager and Mrs. Frank Hawks, wife of the Mystery’s pilot.

Amphibian Draws Crowd. Another feature which drew the crowd’s attention was the Baby Sikorski amphibian with its engine set high above the ground and the cigar-shaped passenger cabin hung low on its frame. The tour visit here was without mishap and was handled to the satisfaction of all under the direction of J. H. McNicol, general chairman of tour arrangements here and head of the aviation committee of the Commercial club which sponsored the tour stop in this city. City officials and many volunteer field officials including checkers, timers, mechanics, Eagle Scouts who handled parking of cars and others co-operated fully in handling the tour. C. D. Page was chief announcer at the microphone, Dr. H. H. Healy was chief of the checkers who cared for the needs of pilots and planes, Oscar Engebretson was chief mechanic, George Wilder handled the luncheon and Walter Hawkins was in charge of parking. Titus Richards was field referee and E. W. (Pop) Cleveland acted as starter. Tour judges were John L. Hulteng, president of the city commission, W. P. Davies and J. A. Dinnie. W. W. Blain was in charge of the finance section which raised tour expense money and Don Whitman was chairman of the tour finance group which solicited the funds under Mr. Blain’s direction. O. S. Remington, assistant direction of immigration here and special customs officer, handled customs clearances. (Grand Forks Herald, Tuesday, September 16, 1930, Volume XLIX, Number 274, Page 12)

Pilot of Fliver Plane Missing on Reliability Tour. Saskatoon, Sask., Canada – (AP) – Fear was expressed today for the safety of Swane E. Taylor of New York, pilot of the smallest airplane in the national reliability air tour, missing since early Monday. When the planes with the tour landed here yesterday Taylor was not with the tourists. He also was unreported at Winnipeg. Taylor hopped off from Bemidji, Minn., early Monday for Grand Forks, N. D., and no word has been heard of him since. Fear was expressed he may have met with an accident in the rugged country in the vicinity of Bemidji. (The Winona Republican-Herald, Wednesday Evening, September 17, 1930, Volume 30, Number 179, Page 1)


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