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 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 It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders.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.


the register


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


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






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Rhiner Accident, Seattle Daily Times, October 25, 1937 (Source: Seattle Daily Times via Woodling)



Leonard Rhiner landed at Parks Airport fifteen times between Wednesday, July 24, 1929 and Monday, June 4, 1934. During all his visits at East St. Louis, Rhiner was based at Kansas City, MO. According to the Register, he identified no passengers. That he carried no passengers is unlikely, and is probably because, unlike other Registers, there is no column for recording passengers in the Parks Airport Register.

Humboldt (IA) Republic, August 4, 1926 (Source: Republic via Woodling)


Regardless, about half of his flights appeared to be back and forth to Kansas City, or to points in the southeast. He flew with Transport pilot certificate T256.

In October, 1937 he died in and airplane crash at Tacoma, WA. Accounts of his final flight are at left and below.

Thanks to Bob Woodling (right sidebar), we have a pretty good newspaper trail of his aviation experience. What follows is a chronology of his appearances in the news and at Parks Aiirport. His flying career included barnstorming, charter flights and corporate pilot duties.

Earlier in his career, from Kansas City he returned home to Iowa in 1926, right. The news from the Humboldt Republic of August 4, 1926 reported an accident during what appeared to be a barnstorming flight with passengers for hire. Fortunately, all turned out well in the end. No one was injured. there is no mention of the model of his "Curtis" (sic) airplane, but see the letter quoted below.

In January, 1929, Rhiner and fellow pilot Blaine M. Tuxhorn set an endurance record of sorts in Missouri. Although they did not break the current refueled endurance mark, they did set a record for time aloft by an aircraft refueled from the ground (other endurance flights were fueled from a tanker aircraft aloft).

Tuxhorn/Rhiner Endurance Flight, Seattle Daily Times, January 3, 1929 (Source: Seattle Daily Times via Woodling)



The ground-based "synchronized refueling catapult," mentioned in the article at right, was new to me. It was patented Jan. 28, 1930, about a year after their record attempt. You may get an idea of its operation, as well as some of the risks in its use, from the patent document at the link. Does anyone KNOW if it was ever used again?

Next we find Rhiner at Parks Airport on Wednesday, July 24, 1929  in Stinson NC442H. His destination was cited as Louisville, KY. I have no further details.

He landed twice more in 1929, on Sunday, September 29, 1929 (destination back to Kansas City) and on Sunday, December 29, 1929 (destination Richmond, IN). Both times he was in the Stinson.

His first two landings of 1930 were in the same Stinson on February 11th and on May 14th. The article below, center, suggests it was this Stinson that was damaged in a landing accident in Michigan with two passengers aboard


Airplane Crash, Kansas City Star, May 27, 1930 (Source: KC Star via Woodling)

Then, for his third landing on Friday, July 18, 1930, he arrived in the Bach 3-CT-9 (S/N 19) he identified in the Register as NC809M.

Amarillo (TX) Sunday News & Globe, July 20, 1930 (Source: News & Globe via Woodling)
Kansas City Star, June 14, 1930 (Source: KC Star via Woodling)
Kansas City Star, June 14, 1930 (Source: Woodling)


Interestingly, his Friday, July 18, 1930 flight through Parks with the Bach is separately documented twice. First, on July 20, 1930 in the Amarillo (TX) Sunday News & Globe, right. His destination was cited as Kansas City. From his entry in the Register, we know the Bach, unidentified in the article, was registration number NC809M. And, although Dodson was a pilot, it was probably Rhiner who was flying the airplane when it landed at Parks (he is recorded as the pilot in the Register). A similar blurb appeared in an unidentified Dallas newspaper dated June 25, 1930, below, right.

Unidentified Dallas Newspaper, June 25, 1939 (Source: Woodling)
Unidentified Dallas Newspaper, June 25, 1939 (Source: Woodling)


How the Bach figures into the mix is roughly explained in the article at left from the Kansas City Star of June 14, 1930. It seems Rhiner and his employer, Bruce Dodson,wrecked their corporate airplane (perhaps it was the Stinson?) as documented in the article, above, center..

The opportunity arose, via a middle man, Fred Kane (who also brought NC809M through Parks Airport earlier on April 12, 1930), for Dodson to acquire a new airplane in partnership with Ralph Nafziger.

The article suggests that Kane insinuated himself into the pilot job for both Dodson and Nafziger at the expense of Rhiner. I have no information on the work relationships of either the owners or the pilots.

Kansas City Star, August 23, 1932 (Source: KC Star via Woodling)


Rhiner landed twice more during 1930. On August 7th he flew the Stinson Junior, NC453H. He identified his home base as Salina, KS and he was eastbound to Charleston, WV. He recorded no passengers. On August 25th he flew the Bellanca CH-300 NC195N. He was on a round trip from Kansas City

In January 1931, he began a string of four flights through East St. Louis. on Saturday, January 6th, piloting the Bellanca. His other flights were in May, September and October.

He brought the Bellanca to Parks a final time on Friday, May 6, 1932 at 4:45PM. He wrote "Dobson," as owner, in the departure time column. Soon after, NC195N was sold to Thomas L. Luzier ("Beautiful Since 1923") as documented in the August 23, 1932 article at left from the Kansas City Star. Luzier (1872-1947) and his pilot flew the airplane to California where they swapped it for another Bellanca belonging to an actress, Ann Harding (1902-1981). Another article from the Kansas City Star of August 24, 1932 expands upon the article at left. Luzier owned three airplanes at the time.

Rhiner's final two visits at Parks Airport were in Waco aircraft. On Tuesday, May 22, 1934 he landed flying Waco UIC NC13420, S/N 3775. He recorded no information regarding home base or destination, or passengers.

His final landing was Monday, June 4, 1934 flying Waco UIC NC13427 S/N 3783, owned by Tex LaGrone. Again he cited no home base, destination or passenger load. We can assume he was based at Kansas City for this flight, because Tex LaGrone's hangar, mentioned in the article at left, is at the "municipal field."

Another article, this one from the Seattle Sunday Times of October 24, 1937, below, documents the crash in which Rhiner and others were killed or injured.

Seattle Sunday Times of October 24, 1937 (Source: Seattle Times via Woodling)
Seattle Sunday Times of October 24, 1937 (Source: Seattle Times via Woodling)

Two better photographs of the aftermath of his crash are at the links at the Tacoma Public Library Web site here and here. From the state of the wreckage illustrated at the links, it's fortunate that anyone survived.

Another article, below, from the Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque, NM, October 24, 1937, describes the crash that killed Rhiner.

Sightseeing Craft Falls on Tacoma Airport.

TACOMA, Wash., Oct. 23, (AP)--Two persons were killed and eight injured in the wreck of a tri-motored airplane at 4:30 p. m., Saturday at the Tacoma Airport.

Pilot Leonard R. Rhiner, Kansas City, Mo., and Fred Williams, a passenger, of Tacoma.
The plane, carrying 10 passengers on a sight-seeing trip from Tacoma, was just taking off from the field when its right wing folded back and the ship ground looped, said John Hillberg, who saw the accident.
Rhiner, who came here four days ago, had been taking passengers on sight-seeing flights from other Pacific Northwest airports.

Henry Otis, 28, Tacoma, was one of the first injured taken to a hospital. The other seven were believed to be from Tacoma also.

The plane pancaked at the south edge of Tacoma field on a take-off after having risen only about 25 feet in the air. The entire superstructure was crushed, the wheels thrown 50 feet away and the dead and injured trapped in the wreckage.

Pilot Rhiner apparently had a few second's warning of the impending accident and cut off his ignition before he was crushed to death in his seat, preventing fire from attacking the gasoline-soaked wreckage.

Earlier, on Saturday, June 27, 1931, Rhiner also landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ. He flew Bellanca NC195N. Please direct your browser to the link to learn the circumstances of his landing at Tucson.



THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 02/19/14 REVISED: 05/04/16