Very readable volumes about the Grand Central Air Terminal are these books:

Underwood, John. 1984. Madcaps, Millionaires and 'Mose'. Heritage Press, Glendale, CA. 144pp.


Underwood, John. 2007. Grand Central Air Terminal. Arcadia Publishing. Charleston, SC. 127pp.


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.






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FORD 4-AT NC5578


This airplane is a large, Ford 4-AT tri-motor manufactured June 7, 1928 by the Stout Metal Airplane Company (Ford Motor Company), Dearborn, MI. It was a model 4-AT-D, S/N 4-AT-24. It was a twelve-place airplane, weighing 10,000 pounds.

It sold on June 23, 1928 to Scenic Airways, Inc., Grand Canyon, AZ. The price included a 78’ wing, which cost $3,000 extra. Register pilot J. Parker Van Zandt was founder of Scenic Airways. It then sold to Continental Air Express and was flown by them 1930-1931. It was then sold to Russell Reed and Eugene Clemm and they flew it through 1937.

NC5578 landed and is signed into the Register 26 times during 1931 at the Grand Central Air Termnal (GCAT), the first landing being on December 21, 1930 and the last on July 5, 1931. Only on the last entry did the Operator cite the name of the pilot, "Reed," or any geographical information. Russell Reed and the airplane arrived that day from Fresno, CA. NC5578 was purchased on November 19, 1930 by Russell Reed and Eugene Clemm of Glendale, CA. Below, a 1932 photograph of NC5578 shared with us by site visitor Torres of her grandmother. The location is unknown, but the date would place the airplane under the ownership of Reed & Clemm.

NC5578 With Gertrude Ann Steffes, Ca. 1932 (Source: Torres)
NC5578 With Gertrude Ann Steffes, Ca. 1932 (Source: Torres)

The photograph and information below is from the 2007 Underwood reference in the left sidebar, page 89. The skill of Register pilot Howard Batt is illustrated.

NC5578 On Approach to GCAT, Date Unknown (Source: Underwood)

Besides its 26 landings at GCAT, NC5578 landed once at Clover Field, and twice at the Davis-Monthan Airfield. Its full technography is online at the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register Web site at the link. At the link you will find additional photographs of the airplane, and notably, a spectacular aerial view of NC5578 is found in the motion picture "Murder in the Clouds" from 1934. You may view the whole movie for free at the link. NC5578 is shown during the first two minutes of this film, flying overhead and maneuvering for a landing. If you recognize the airfield, please let me KNOW. The flight attendant identifies it as "Los Angeles," but not by airfield name.



THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 07/06/13 REVISED: 02/25/15