Are You A Tucson Aviation History ACE?

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Are You A Tucson Aviation History ACE? - Quiz

This year’s Davis-Monthan Air Force Base’s “Thunder and Lightning over Arizona” open house celebrates flight history and Arizona’s centennial. In that spirit, test your knowledge of Tucson’s advances in aviation.


Questions and Answers
  • 1. 

    The first manned aircraft flight in Tucson happened on Feb. 19, 1910 when daredevil pilot Charles K. Hamilton flew his Curtiss biplane above Elysian Grove, an amusement park southwest of where the Tucson Convention Center stands today. What was Hamilton's nickname?

    • A.

      The Barnstormer

    • B.

      The Birdman

    • C.

      The Red Baron

    Correct Answer
    B. The Birdman
    Explanation
    We have Tucson businessmen Emmanuel Drachman and George Kitt to thank for bringing the very first "air show" to the Old Pueblo in 1910. Hamilton, who was performing at an aviation conference in Phoenix, was paid $2,000 to travel to Tucson by train — with his plane attached — to dazzle local residents. According to the U.S. Air Force, Charles "The Birdman" Hamilton was a no-fear guy, who started out as a stunt parachutist and airship pilot before becoming one of the early aviation aces. He survived 63 crashes, endured broken legs, smashed collar bones, cracked ribs, dislocated arms and a plethora of other injuries. It was not flying, however, that finally claimed Hamilton's life in January 1914 — it was a bout of tuberculosis and phenumonia. Read more.

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  • 2. 

    In 1911, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst offered a $50,000 prize to the first person who could successfully fly across the United States in 30 days or less. Calbraith Perry Rodgers, who landed his Vin Fiz Flyer in Tucson during his attempt, completed this trek. Why, then, couldn't he collect the prize money?

    • A.

      He cheated by pulling his plane behind a truck instead of flying it.

    • B.

      Rodgers crashed at his destination and was killed.

    • C.

      The unlucky aviator sustained so many crashes that it took him too many days to finish.

    Correct Answer
    C. The unlucky aviator sustained so many crashes that it took him too many days to finish.
    Explanation
    Rodgers — who took flight lessons from Orville Wright — was sponsored by Armour and Company to take the 30-day coast-to-coast flight challenge. That's why he named his Wright aircraft after the company's grape soda, Vin Fiz. He set out for the Pacific Ocean from Sheepshead Bay, New York, on Sept. 17, 1911. Unfortunately, his attempt endured multiple stops due to aircraft maintenance, crashes and other delays — including a stop at Tucson's municipal airport. When Hearst's 30-day challenge expired, Rodgers had only made it to Kansas City, Missouri. He finally arrived in Pasadena, Calif., on Nov. 5, 1911 — 49 days after starting his journey. Rodgers stayed in Pasadena to give flights to tourists in his Vin Fiz, and lessons to wannabe aviators in another plane, the Model B. He was testing the Model B on April 3, 1912 when reports say the pilot swerved to avoid a flock of seagulls before the aircraft crashed into the Pacific Ocean — near the spot where Rodgers had completed his transcontinental flight. He was killed instantly. A reconstructed version of the Vin Fiz is on display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum. Read more.

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  • 3. 

    While in town to perform an aerobatic show at the Pima County Fair in 1915, teenage aviatrix Katherine Stinson became the first person to deliver what by air in Arizona?

    • A.

      Mail

    • B.

      People

    • C.

      Water

    Correct Answer
    A. Mail
    Explanation
    Katherine Stinson, who was the fourth woman in the United States to obtain her pilot's license, took up flying to perform in exhibitions. A pianist, she thought she could use the money garnered from these events to pay her way to Europe for more music instruction. "The flying schoolgirl" dropped music in favor of aviation, however, and moved to San Antonio, Texas where Stinson and her sister, Marjorie, began a flying school. In addition to being the first woman to perform a loop-the-loop in her aircraft, Stinson was also the first woman authorized to carry mail by air. She performed this feat regularly as part of her exhibition, and carried a bag of mail in her plane from the Southern Arizona Fair Grounds on South Sixth Ave. before dropping it in a lot behind the downtown Tucson post office in November 1915 — making it the first air-mail delivery in Arizona. Read more.

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  • 4. 

    In 1919, the Tucson Chamber of Commerce aviation committee established the first municipal airport in the United States at what current site?

    • A.

      Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

    • B.

      Saguaro National Park

    • C.

      Tucson Rodeo Grounds

    Correct Answer
    C. Tucson Rodeo Grounds
    Explanation
    Known by several names — Macauley Field, Fishburn Field and Army Field included — Tucson Municipal Flying Field became a regular refueling stop for the United States Army Air Service, which was the precursor to the United States Air Force. Early Arizona aviation pioneer Charles Mayse offered flight lessons at the site. Due to its popularity, the airport quickly outgrew its 83 acres. In 1931, the field was used as Tucson's fair grounds before the land was donated to the Tucson Rodeo, better known as "La Fiesta de los Vaqueros." Want to see a relic from the old municipal airport? Visit the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum at 4823 S. Sixth Ave. — the large building was the city's first airport hangar. Read more.

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  • 5. 

    In 1925, Tucson's City Council purchased 1,280 acres of land southeast of town to relocate the city's municipal airport. What "Spirit of St. Louis" pilot landed in Tucson to dedicate the airport, on the current site of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, in 1927?

    • A.

      Amelia Earhart

    • B.

      Charles Lindbergh

    • C.

      Howard Hughes

    Correct Answer
    B. Charles Lindbergh
    Explanation
    Just four months after Charles Lindbergh's historic non-stop flight from New York to Paris, France, the "Spirit of St. Louis" pilot landed at Tucson's new municipal airport for its dedication at 2 p.m. on Sept. 23, 1927. At the time, it was the largest of its kind in the United States. Reports say some 20,000 turned out to catch a glimpse of the aircraft as it landed and to hear Lindbergh speak at the University of Arizona football field. Local resident Hal Burns created a cactus "Spirit of Tucson" plane made of cacti in the likeness of Lindbergh's historic plane for the event. Watch a video of Charles Lindbergh's arrival in Tucson.  Read more.

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  • 6. 

    Then known as Standard, what is the name of the airline that first offered commercial air service in Tucson?

    • A.

      American

    • B.

      Continental

    • C.

      United

    Correct Answer
    A. American
    Explanation
    Later acquired by American Airlines, Standard Air Lines established the first round-trip passenger air service between Los Angeles, Phoenix and Tucson in 1927. The airlines' president, Jack Frye, was the pilot. In November 1929, Frye piloted the first commercial air service — from California to Tucson — in a Fokker luxury plane. Standard was the only commercial passenger service at the Tucson airport until Frontier Airlines introduced daily flights to Phoenix and Nogales in 1950. Read more.

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  • 7. 

    On Dec. 1, 1941, just four days before Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Army Air Corps established Davis-Monthan Field at the site of Tucson's former municipal airport. What military aircraft used for training missions was based at the site?

    • A.

      B-24 Liberators

    • B.

      B-29 Superfortresses

    • C.

      Both

    Correct Answer
    C. Both
    Explanation
    The outbreak of World War II brought B-24 Liberator crews to train at Davis-Monthan Field in February 1942. B-24s would fill the skies over Tucson until late 1944 when the U.S. Army Air Force's latest bomber arrived — the B-29 Superfortress. Davis-Monthan was home to the B-29 until V-J (Victory over Japan) Day in August 1945. Read more.

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  • 8. 

    In 1963, Tucson International Airport opened a new terminal at its current site. The airport first offered international flights in 1961 to which country?

    • A.

      Canada

    • B.

      Mexico

    • C.

      Panama

    Correct Answer
    B. Mexico
    Explanation
    Aeronaves de Mexico, known as Aeromexico today, was the first airline to offer flights to Mexico out of Tucson. Interestingly, the designation of "international airport" has nothing to do with offering international flights, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. By federal statute, this means flights coming from the south must stop at an airport with this designation for customs clearance. It also means the airports are required to be available 24 hours a day for international flights. Read more.

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  • 9. 

    With 75 aircraft on display, this treasured Tucson attraction opened on May 8, 1976.

    • A.

      Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group

    • B.

      Pima Air & Space Museum

    • C.

      Pinal Airpark

    Correct Answer
    B. Pima Air & Space Museum
    Explanation
    The Pima Air & Space Museum, 6000 E. Valencia Road, was known as Pima Air Museum when it opened in 1976. It began with 75 aircraft and has grown to more than 275 aircraft, 125,000 artifacts, a restaurant, Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame and a specialized restoration shop within a 200-acre area. The museum's world-renowned collection of one-of-a-kind and rare aircraft includes an exact replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer flown by the Wright Brothers, President John F. Kennedy's Air Force One and the Lockheed SR-71 "Blackbird," the world's fastest jet. An SR-71 once flew from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., in just over 68 minutes. It is one of the largest aerospace museums in the world, and attracts more than 150,000 visitors annually. Read more.

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  • 10. 

    Davis-Monthan Air Force Base has been the refueling location for transporters carrying what out-of-this-world cargo?

    • A.

      NASA space shuttles

    • B.

      National Weather Service satellites

    • C.

      Unidentified flying objects

    Correct Answer
    A. NASA space shuttles
    Explanation
    On January 22, 1986, the Space Shuttle Columbia landed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base for a refueling stop before heading for Texas, where they would spend the night before heading for Florida. Space shuttle Columbia visited Tucson twice — in January 1986 and January 1990. NASA's oldest shuttle rode atop a Boeing 747 transporter, which stopped at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base to refuel on the way from California back to Kennedy Space Center, Fla. Shuttles Challenger and Atlantis also made piggyback pit stops at D-M over the years when returning to Florida. In June 1991, a planned stop by Columbia and its transporter was waved off due to extreme heat in Tucson. Higher temperatures reduce lift on any aircraft, requiring higher takeoff speeds and greater runway lengths.

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