March 1929 – March 2018
A Star is Born
Travel Air NC8112 emerged from the factory on this date. The ATC (Aircraft Type Certificate) of No. 130. It was given a serial number of 884 and registration number as NC8112. Totally by accident, we’ve found a picture on the internet of our aircraft. We believed it was sitting outside the Travel Air factory in Wichita KS. One thing we noticed was the propeller spinner and the cowling style of the original 6000 series aircraft. When the picture was enlarged we discovered the registration number on the bottom on the left wing was NC8112.
The first owner was Pittsburgh Airways, founded by James Condon and Ted Tandy, of Pittsburgh, PA. The aircraft was based at Betis Field. Pittsburgh Airways only route was from Pittsburgh Betis Field to Philadelphia then onward to New York City. The plane was also available for passenger charter and local site seeing flights.
Up, Up, and Away
Pittsburgh Airways Operation Inspection report approved by Department of Commerce for Commercial operations.
Stabilizer struts were replaced but we don’t know the reason why. The actual date of the event is estimated. We can surmise maybe there was a ground loop or a ground movement accident of some kind.
Empennage repaired and recovered. The stabilizers were once again replaced but the true reason for the repairs are unknown. Best guess could be that a ground loop occurred since the plane tends to get away from any unwary pilot.
A letter was sent to the Department of Commerce to certify that in August, 1931 stating that the stabilizer struts were replaced along with a new vertical fin. The entire empennage was recovered. The letter mentioned the stabilizer tubing was replace in March, 1931. All parts were purchased from Travel Air.
NC8112 was involved in another accident while landing at the old Penn Harris Field, Harrisburg, PA. From old newspaper accounts, the accident happened while attempting to stop. The article mentioned that the wing being damaged added credence for us to believe that another ground loop has occurred. Pilot C. E. Weiblen was unhurt but passenger, L. C. Kennedy, from Boston, suffered head contusion and other minor injuries.
Accident #5; Grounded
Letter of aircraft license suspension received by Pittsburgh Airway from The Dept. of Commerce. The letter makes mention of a damaged left wing, engine mount, vertical fin, rightwing tip and bent propeller.
End of the Line
Due to the 1929 economic depression and having no U.S. Mail contracts, Pittsburgh Airways was forced to end operations. Per a newspaper article, its assets were sold to Atlantic Airways of York, PA (mainly office equipment and airplane equipment) for $2500.00. This amount seems rather low so logic would suggest that the remaining aircraft weren’t included, maybe were on lease, or sold separately. There was an attempted merge with Ohio Air Transport, Southwest Air Fast Express and United States Airways but the deal fell through. Had the four companies merged, they were going to name it United Aviation. Too much competition from TWA, the old TAT-WAE, (Transcontinental and Western Air Inc.), who had the U.S. Mail contracts aborted this venture.
NC8112 wreckage sold to Atlantic Airways, based in York, PA, via a court order. They intended to use the plane in their own airline operation, but again, the 1929 depression killed that plan before flight operations commenced.
Get her in the Air!
Atlantic Airways sent several letters to The Dept. of Commerce stating their intensions to repair NC8112. We have no detailed information about the repairs since there are no log books or 337 forms.
The Dept. of Commerce responded back that when the repairs were completed Atlantic could reapply for a new aircraft license.