Davis Aircraft Company Logo, Ca. 1930



Your copy of the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register 1925-1936 with all the pilots' signatures and helpful cross-references to pilots and their aircraft is available at the link. 375 pages with black & white photographs and extensive tables


The Congress of Ghosts (available as eBook) 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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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.


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, while supplies last.


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.  Available as a free download at the link.


Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race (available as eBook) 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, while supplies last.


Clover Field: The first Century of Aviation in the Golden State (available in paperback) With the 100th anniversary in 2017 of the use of Clover Field as a place to land aircraft in Santa Monica, this book celebrates that use by exploring some of the people and aircraft that made the airport great. 281 pages, black & white photographs.


Thanks to Guest Editor Bob Woodling for help researching this page.


the register


I'm looking for information and photographs of pilot Davis and his airplane to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.






You may NOW donate via PAYPAL by clicking the "Donate" icon below and using your credit card. You may use your card or your PAYPAL account. You are not required to have a PAYPAL account to donate.


When your donation clears the PAYPAL system, a certified receipt from Delta Mike Airfield, Inc. will be emailed to you for your tax purposes.




Walter Davis appears once in the Parks Airport Register, on Sunday, March 8, 1931 at 11:30AM. He flew the Davis model D-1-K that he identified as NC157Y (S/N 509). His airplane's sister ship, NC158Y, is exhibited out west at the Grand Central Air Terminal site at the link. Davis arrived at East St. Louis from Richmond, IN, and identified his destination as Richmond. He entered no passenger data, or purpose for his trip. An image of Davis appeared in a vignette in an undated news article, below.

Davis Aircraft & Walter Davis, Date & Source Unknown (Source: Woodling)

Walter Davis was the president of the Davis Aircraft Company based in Richmond. We could guess that he was at Parks to demonstrate one of his models. All totaled, there are landings recorded by at least six different Davis aircraft across four of our Registers.

Walter Davis was born March 31, 1893 in Winchester, IN. The 1900 U.S. Census, his first, placed him living at age 7 in Winchester (east of Muncie) with his parents George W. (age 32) and Cora C. (31). His father's occupation was listed as "Traveling Man" selling "Buggies." Yes, he made the transition to automobiles in a big way.

At age 17, the 1910 Census had Davis living with his parents in Wayne, IN at 59 South 15th Street. His father was now "President" of the "Davis Carriage Company." In 1917, Davis was registered for the draft. His draft card is below. Note that, at age 24, he was employed by the G.W. Davis Motor Car Company. His father had kept up with the times and transitioned his business from buggies to manufacturing an eponymous brand of automobiles.

W.C. Davis, Draft Card, WWI, 1917 (Source: ancestry.com)
W.C. Davis, Draft Card, WWI, 1917 (Source: ancestry.com)

As with many things, the details are in the fine print. If you look carefully at the diagonal printing at the lower left of this card, the text says, "If person is of African descent, tear off this corner." An African American registrant would thus be marked. Some things change; some things remain the same.

He served in WWI and learned to fly in the military. Please see the blog link below for details of his WWI service. If you have photographs of Davis from any year, please let me KNOW.

Things had changed for Walter by the 1920 Census. He still lived in his parents home on 15th Street at age 26, but now he had a wife, Helen G. age 27 living with him. And a servant, Eleanor Hatcher (16) lived in the household as well. Walter's occupation was listed as "Assistant to the President" of a "Motor Car Company."

By 1930, the Census recorded Davis living independently with Helen and his son Walter C., Jr. (8). They owned their home, valued at $17,500. They had a servant living with them named Elizabeth Schroeder (62). Davis was listed as a "Manufacturer" in an "Airplane Factory." He had finally gotten into the air in 1928.

According to the link, the Davis Aircraft Company closed in 1930 after a fire damaged it and destroyed several planes. In 1932 the company transitioned to manufacturing lawnmowers. About 60 aircraft were manufactured in that short time. Very few are left (including NC158Y linked above). Photographs of some of the still existing aircraft are at the link. At the link, too, are blueprints of the aircraft that are available in their entirety from the source, just in case you have a Davis airplane and want to restore it.

The formation details of the Davis Aircraft Company were documented at the EAA Web site at the link. Part of the relevant text is below.

The Davis aircraft story begins with two brothers named Wilson and Harvey Doyle. They were 1925 graduates of Harvard and Yale, respectively, and left their hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, for Detroit, Michigan, then a center of aviation activity. After some time spent working for others and trying to obtain financial backing to start an aircraft company, they moved to Portsmouth, Ohio, where they came in contact with William Burke of the Vulcan Last Company. Burke backed their plan to build a two-place, tandem, open-cockpit parasol sportplane and the Vulcan Aircraft Division began design work in a rented second floor room and construction in a former street car barn in Portsmouth.

The result was the Vulcan American Moth. Burke chose the name in order to take advantage of the popularity of the British de Havilland Moth series of biplanes. A publicity tour of Florida ensued in which a parachutist, Benny Martinez, jumped from the Moth carrying a set of Vulcan golf clubs. The plane was a hit, but the relationship among the principles was deteriorating and the Doyle brothers left to start their own Doyle Aircraft Company in Baltimore. They produced 14 Doyle Orioles, which were similar to the Moth, before bankruptcy ended the effort.

Meanwhile, Vulcan updated the engine from a 60-hp Detroit Air-Cat to a Warner radial and the aircraft became the Vulcan V-3. It finished second in the National Air Races A Division, New York to Los Angeles Derby. Later it took first in the Los Angeles to Cincinnati race at 90.3 mph. Shortly after these achievements, William Burke died leaving the company’s future in doubt.

Walter C. Davis was a former WWI pilot who had been working in his family’s business, the Davis Automobile Company of Richmond, Indiana, when it was sold in 1928. Redirecting his talents back to flying, he purchased the production rights to the Vulcan V-3 and began work on the first Davis aircraft in March 1929. He hired Vulcan test pilot, Pat Love, and engineer Dwight Huntington and opened his factory in Richmond.

Huntington’s slight re-design of the aircraft included adding the gently curved leading edge to the vertical stabilizer. Davis then set up dealers in California, Dayton, Boston, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Pittsburgh. Air racing success continued in 1929 and all seemed well. The advent of the Great Depression ultimately led to the demise of Davis Aircraft, but the company struggled on.

In December 1929, two new models were engineered with different engines, the D-1 with a 65-hp LeBlond and the D-1K with the 100-hp Kinner K-5. Both models were certificated, but sales lagged. Davis countered by aggressively pursuing direct sales to buyers and attended trade shows in St. Louis, Detroit and New York. He added the D-1-66 (later D-1-85) with an 85-hp LeBlond engine and cut prices, but then lost the entire finished inventory of planes to a fire.

Through all this, the Davis airplanes continued to shine at air racing. Art Chester bought a D-1-85 which he flew to victory in the 25-mile event at the National Air Races in September 1930. Unfortunately, the commercial market for airplanes just wasn’t there and in 1932 Davis turned to the production of lawn mowers. A few additional planes left the factory in 1933 but they were apparently made up from existing parts inventory or airframes returned to the factory for various reasons. They received new serial and registration numbers.

Davis returned to Earth by the time of the 1940 Census. He lived, at age 47, in the same house with Helen, Walter, Jr. (now 18) and Ms. Schroeder. His home was now valued at $25,000. His occupation was listed as "Manufacturer" in a "Lawn Mower Company." He had left aviation, his business probably not only abridged by the fire, but also a victim of the Great Depression.

Like many men of his demographic cohort, he was soon registered for the draft for WWII. His WWII draft card is below. Given that he was 47 at the time of the 1940 Census, and 49 at the time of his draft registration, he must have been registered about 1942.

W.C. Davis, Draft Card, WWII, Ca.1942 (Source: ancestry.com)
W.C. Davis, Draft Card, WWII, Ca.1940 (Source: ancestry.com)


Walter C. Davis, Gravestone, 1952 (Source: findagrave.com)


And given that his father was identified as his employer, the lawn mower company must have been owned by his father. To my knowledge, Davis did not serve during WWII.

Davis flew West on July 15, 1952. He died of metastatic brain cancer that had originated in his right lung. His death certificate is below. Note that he was still president and manager of his lawn mower company. A city directory for Richmond, IN for 1953 placed Helen, now widowed a year, living at the Garwood Road address listed on the death certificate.


Walter C. Davis, Death Certificate, July 15, 1952 (Source: ancestry.com)

A Wayne County (IN) history blog (no longer available online as of 02/27/17) about the Davis family published the following about W.C. Davis. His father, George and his buggy and automobile businesses, were also featured. The blog post was from 2015.

Walter Clay Davis.

Mr. and Mrs. Davis have one son, Walter Clay, (1893-1952) who was born March 31, 1893, in Winchester, Indiana. He received his education in the Richmond public schools, also in Earlham College, and in 1914 entered the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia, where he graduated in 1916. At the very outbreak of the war with Germany, on April 16, 1917, he enlisted at New York City in the United States air service as pilot, receiving his preliminary training at Wilbur Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, where he was commissioned as a first lieutenant in the air service, and in February, 1918, was ordered to France, completing a more intensive training at the Third Aviation Instruction Center, Issoudoun, Indre, France. [Walter was married to Ann B.]

Soon afterward he was promoted to officer in charge of flying on one of the adjoining fields, being assigned to the Thirty-first Aero Squadron. In October, just prior to the armistice, he was ordered to active service at the front, and was promoted to the rank of captain in the air service. After the armistice he was ordered back to the United States and honorably discharged from the service with rank of captain in the air service. Immediately upon his discharge he was given an executive position with the George W. Davis Motor Car Company as assistant to the president. Source: Indiana and Indianans; Vol.4; 1919.

I believe Davis was divorced sometime between 1940 and his death and remarried to Ann B., as written in the blog. I could find no record of a divorce or remarriage. But a headstone identical to Davis', above, is at Ann B. Davis' findagrave.com page. She passed away in 1978.