"If I don't believe in solipsism, who will?" - Al Batt

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The City of Yuma

Today I received a comment to a post from a couple of years ago from Matt Sieber who is rebuilding an Aeronca Sedan airplane from scratch in Switzerland. I learned from his website that there were only 561 Sedans made. My father's Sedan was N1154H, only two numbers from The City of Yuma N1156H, which set a flight record of 47 days in the air without landing (see below). Incidently, the Old Man's plane was also the same color scheme as Yuma. I guess his flights from Southern Minnesota to the Arctic Circle and back were a piece of cake for this bird.
Addendum from Matt 4/22/10: "There is some kind of discrepancy: According to the FAA registry, your Dad's N1154H was/is serial number 15AC-167, while the "City of Yuma", registered as N1156H, is serial number 15AC-166."

So, it would appear that our Sedan and Yuma were twin sisters.

"A Sedan was chosen by pilots Bill Barris and Dick Riedel for their attempt to set a time aloft record in 1949. Their flight was sponsored by the local chamber of commerce and the Sunkist growers association, the second sponsor accounting for the naming of the aircraft as the Sunkist Lady. (The accompanying support aircraft, also a Sedan, was called the Lady’s Maid.) Departing from the Fullerton, California, Municipal Airport on March 15, the flight crossed the United States to Miami, Florida, where bad weather forced the pilots to circle for 14 days before making the return trip to Fullerton. Along the way, fuel and food were passed from vehicles on the ground to the pilots during low passes over airport runways. Having reached Fullerton on April 11, the pilots kept flying around the local area until April 26, finally landing at Fullerton Municipal Airport and setting a record of over 1,008 hours, or 42 days, in the air.

The Fullerton record was short lived. Inspired by the flight at Fullerton, later in 1949, Yuma, Arizona, decided to sponsor its own time aloft record attempt. The city needed publicity as it was experiencing economic hard times due to the 1946 closure of Yuma Army Air Field. Pilots Woody Jongeward and Bob Woodhouse piloted the City of Yuma, a Sedan borrowed from local owners, modified for the flight and painted with the slogan, “The City with a Future.” The flight began on August 24, with the aircraft remaining in the Yuma area throughout, and ended after more than 1,124 hours, or nearly 47 days in the air, on October 10. In 1997, the record-setting airplane was located and returned to Yuma; made airworthy again, it flew on October 10, 1999, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of the record flight. The "City of Yuma" airplane is now on display at a museum in Yuma."


Margadant said...

Now I'm wondering whether Bud knew about the Aeronca's pedigree. If he did, he didn't let it stand in the way of his good times.

Gunnar Berg said...

I doubt it. I know he looked for specifically for a Sedan on the recommendations of a couple of Canadian bush pilots who preferred them for ferrying in fishermen. At the time he had an Aeronca Champion on floats so it was a logical step up.
The Champ was on the Bancroft Creek behind the airport. At that time you could taxi down the creek to Bancroft Bay and take off. When he sold it he offered to fly it to a bigger piece of water. The buyer declined and then proceeded to splatter it on the hillside where the landfill is now.

Echelon 133 said...

Very cool Gunnar. in the late fifties we were stationed in Yuma. Dad was a Major in the USAF at that time and built the radar site there. It is presently a Marine air fighter base.

As a kid at that time a great place to live, that is if you are sitting in the Colorado River fishing at 120 degress F. Dad was drinking Coors at that time.


Mimbres Man said...

My Yuma story: in the mid-1990s I was driving to L.A. one day using I-8. Having driven that road before, I had been wanting to try riding up steep looking hill heading up to a microwave tower just off the road about 10 miles east of Yuma but never stopped. On this day, I was driving my Civic at 75 mph thinking about that climb when suddenly I see a red Toyota truck parked at the base of the road. Funny thing was, I knew that truck! It was a friend, Dan Diaz, from Flagstaff, AZ. I immediately hit the brakes, veered onto the shoulder and reversed back to the truck. Dan and his friend were scared for a second or two then they saw the yellow NM license plate and realized it was me. We pulled out our mountain bikes from our respective vehicles and rode up the hill...very steep! Granny gear most of the way.

Also let it be known...the worst cup of coffee I've ever had was from a Chevron station in Yuma. It was undrinkable and I poured it out before I got to the Colorado River.

Yuma is also near the confluence of the Gila river. My hometown it near the headwaters (where there is actually water flowing).

Dan said...

Chasing some family history and it seems that my wife's grandfather was probably the first owner of N1154H. I have Logbook entries from early 1949 when he took his private pilots check ride in the airplane. Also we have the FCC issued radio license for the Harvey Wells radio in the airplane. This was in Cottage Grove, MN
Your pictures of the aircraft on floats are great. Do you have any other photos of N1154H ?. From the FAA registry the airplane is now in Kodiak Alaska.

Gunnar Berg said...

Very cool. It was one of half a dozen or more airplanes he had over the years. I'm sorry, I will look, but I do not think I have more pictures.