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Pilots, Planes, People

Phoebe Fairgrave Omlie, shoulders above the men on the 1928 tour. It is said that Phoebe learned to fly when Vernon Omlie, an army officer in St. Paul, taught her to fly after other pilots told her to stick to what she was doing: wing walking and parachute jumping. "And so they were married," in 1922 when Phoebe was nineteen. The 1928 tour marked the beginning of her headline career in air racing and air shows. She was the first to depart Dearborn on June 30th '28 and was the only woman pilot on '28 tour. Flying a Monocoupe 70, Mrs. Stinson flew part way with her.

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Ford tri-motor 7-AT, NC-8485, was 1929 tour number 16 (the number 4 on the tail might well be a company line number). The 7-AT model was unusual in that this particular airframe and power plant arrangement was primarily developed for participation in the 1929 National Air Tour. It was calculated to perform well given the criteria being used at the time. It ended up coming in third place in '29, being beaten by Johnny Livingston in his Waco and Art Davis in another Waco. It flew again in the 1930 tour and this time it won, just edging out the two wily Wacos.

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The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company built it's first blimp in 1925. By 1930 there were six of them flying and participating in public events just as they do today. We have not yet identified specifically which blimp this was, but it was busy at work promoting Goodyear at the start of the 1929 National Air Tour in Dearborn, Michigan.

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People were lined the tarmac on Saturday, October 5, 1929 at Ford Airport in Dearborn for the start of the 1929 tour. The thousands on hand were there not only to see the famous flyers and their aircraft as they departed on the 1929 National Air Tour, but to enjoy as well "an all-day program of aerial events being held in connection with the start or the tour."

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There were 29 competing, 17 accompanying aircraft on the 1929 National Air Tour. Here many of the tour aircraft are parked at their tie-down spots prior to being pulled out for the event. In the foreground is an American Gipsy Moth, a U.S. version of the British built deHavilland Gipsy Moth. It is probably NC-9731, a model DH60GM, the U.S. built "M" version had a metal tube fuselage frame rather than one of wood. It was flown by Alex Krapish, a Russian immigrant who worked for Igor Sikorsky before joining the American Moth Factory as chief test pilot in 1929. Krapish and his Moth managed an average of 64.9 m.p.h. over the 5,017 miles of the '29 National Air Tour.

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