Some of this information comes from the listings of Non-Prefixed and Non-Suffixed aircraft reviewed by me in the archives of the National Air & Space Museum (NASM), Washington, DC.


the register


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BACH 3-CT-6 NC850E

According to information examined by me at the Smithsonian (left sidebar), his airplane was a tri-motored, model 3-CT-6, S/N 9, manufactured by the Bach Aircraft Co. of Los Angeles in April, 1929. It left the factory with one Pratt & Whitney Hornet (525HP) and two Comet (130 HP each) engines. It was a 10-place airplane with a gross weight of 8,000 pounds. The fuselage and wings were built of wood and covered with fabric. The wooden horizontal stabilizer was adjustable if flight for pitch control. The price at the factory was $39,500.

NC850E was purchased on June 5, 1929 by Pickwick Airways, Inc. of Los Angeles. According to this REFERENCE, Volume 2, only five of this model were manufactured, and all five were purchased by Pickwick. NC850E was flown on Pickwick's Los Angeles -San Francisco, LA-San Diego and LA-Phoenix, AZ routes. Pickwick began business in March 1929 with flights between Los Angeles and San Diego. Within the following six-months it operated to San Francisco, and opened a route to Mexico City. With the deepening Depression, Pickwick went out of business during the spring of 1930. It lasted only about a year.

Below is a photograph of the Model 3-CT-6 type. The image is from the reference linked above, Volume 2, page 40.

Bach Model 3-CT-6 Air Yacht, Ca. 1929 (Source: Juptner)
Bach Model 3-CT-6 Air Yacht, Ca. 1929 (Source: Juptner)

The Hornet engine is on the nose. Note the wide-stance landing gear. The distance between the wheels was 18 feet.

Bach Model 3-CT-6 Air Yacht Interior, Ca. 1929 (Source: Juptner)


The interior of the Air Yacht was well-appointed for an airliner of the day, right, from the reference linked above, Volume 2, page 42. The seats were woven of wicker.

NC850E landed 64 times at GCAT between December 15, 1930 and July 6, 1931. The reason for this high frequency is that NC850E was a passenger transport aircraft owned and operated by Gilpin Airlines. Gilpin Airlines "owned" the route from Glendale to Agua Caliente, Mexico via San Diego and return (the round-trip fare was $12.50). The itineraries of 850E recorded in the Register showed that the flights departed Glendale 10-ish in the morning and returned 5-ish in the afternoon. As a customer courtesy, he stopped at Long Beach or Palm Springs along the way at no extra charge.

All but seven of the landings were flown by C.W. Gilpin or Clarence "Ace" Bragunier. Both pilots were well known to the Glendale tower staff, and that's why they were easily identified by name in the Register. Bill Gilpin flew for Pickwick when they were in business, then opened his own operation with NC850E that he purchased from Pickwick on September 2, 1930. Please direct your browser to Gilpin's Web page and to the Charles William "Bill" Gilpin Image & Document Collection. There you'll find information about Gilpin and his experiences with Pickwick and Gilpin Airlines, many business-related photographs and documents, as well as PDF downloads of company brochures and fare schedules.

Where so noted in the Register, NC850E carried from 0-9 passengers. Their flights were clustered around the weekend, with Friday, Sunday and Monday having the highest counts. The reason for this skew was Prohibition. Thirsty west coast residents from Los Angeles and San Diego went south on Friday for the weekend to Agua Caliente where they could drink freely at the resorts and bars there. Then they returned home Sunday-Tuesday, depending on work demands.

During one charter to to Mexico City in July, 1932, Gilpin made a forced landing and was killed instantly when the plane's engine detached and struck him on the head. His airplane was not 850E. The fate of NC850E is as follows. The airplane sold on August 4, 1932, in an internal shuffling of assets, to Gilpin's partner in his airline, Mrs. Greenway. It had accumulated 1,614 flight hours by that time. The airline was moved from Glendale to Tucson, AZ under new management. NC850E operated thusly for about two years. It was sold on May 22, 1934 to Noel Bullock of Los Angeles.

In another shuffling of assets, Noel Bullock sold the airplane for $1,000 to his brother, Ward E. BUllock on July 30, 1934. The brothers were the owners and operators of Bullock & Bullock, a hardware, furniture and undertaking firm (that's what the NASM record says) in Madrid, NB. Later in 1934 the airplane was being used in Mexico and a Mexican license was reported issued. There were no transfer or sale papers submitted to the U.S. government.

On December 21, 1934 the airplane was reported "lost at sea." On December 24, 1934, in a letter that is part of the airplane's official record, Ward Bullock stated, "According to radio and all news I can gather [the] airplane...went down at sea between Mazatlan and La Paz, Mexico, Friday morning, Dec. 21, 1934. This ship was piloted by my brother Noel. It is feared that he with 9 passengers have perished.... Latest press bulletins are sure that the ship and all passengers sunk...."