Your copy of the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register (available in paperback) with all the pilots' signatures and helpful cross-references to pilots and their aircraft is available at the link. 375 pages with black & white photographs and extensive tables


The Congress of Ghosts (available as Kindle Edition eBook) is an anniversary celebration for 2010.  It is an historical biography, that celebrates the 5th year online of and the 10th year of effort on the project dedicated to analyze and exhibit the history embodied in the Register of the Davis-Monthan Airfield, Tucson, AZ. This book includes over thirty people, aircraft and events that swirled through Tucson between 1925 and 1936. It includes across 277 pages previously unpublished photographs and texts, and facsimiles of personal letters, diaries and military orders. Order your copy at the link.


Military Aircraft of the Davis Monthan Register, 1925-1936 (available in paperback) at the link. This book describes and illustrates with black & white photographs the majority of military aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield between 1925 and 1936. The book includes biographies of some of the pilots who flew the aircraft to Tucson as well as extensive listings of all the pilots and airplanes. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author, while supplies last.


Art Goebel's Own Story (available as free PDF download) by Art Goebel (edited by G.W. Hyatt) is written in language that expands for us his life as a Golden Age aviation entrepreneur, who used his aviation exploits to build a business around his passion.  Available as a free download at the link.


Winners' Viewpoints: The Great 1927 Trans-Pacific Dole Race (available as Kindle Edition eBook) is available at the link. This book describes and illustrates with black & white photographs the majority of military aircraft that landed at the Davis-Monthan Airfield between 1925 and 1936. The book includes biographies of some of the pilots who flew the aircraft to Tucson as well as extensive listings of all the pilots and airplanes. Use this FORM to order a copy signed by the author, while supplies last.


Clover Field: The first Century of Aviation in the Golden State (available in paperback & Kindle Edition) With the 100th anniversary in 2017 of the use of Clover Field as a place to land aircraft in Santa Monica, this book celebrates that use by exploring some of the people and aircraft that made the airport great. 281 pages, black & white photographs.


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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NC613K was manufactured August 19, 1929. It wore manufacturer's serial number RC-2002. It was originally powered by a "Chevrolet 6" (inverted Chevrolair D-6) engine, manufactured by the Arthur Chevrolet Aviation Motors company. It did not have an approved Type Certificate. It appears in this configuration, below, from

Travel Air NR613K, Ca. 1929 (Source:
Travel Air NR613K, Ca. 1929 (Source:

NC613K was originally licensed August 24, 1929 to Clarence E. Clark and registered as NR613K, restricted for racing. It was the second ship off the line and called the "Mystery S."

On October 8th, Clark sold the airplane back to the Travel Air Company for "One dollar and other valuable considerations." The Company removed the Chevrolet engine and replaced it with a Wright R-975 of 330HP. It maintained its "R" registration, restricted for racing.

The next bill of sale in the airplane's official FAA record was dated May 29, 1930 to "Florence Lowe Barnes." She paid $12,500 for the airplane and the transfer was handled by west coast airplane broker H.C. Lippiatt. During her period of ownership, the airplane landed at Grand Central Air Terminal (GCAT) December 15, 1930, April 29, 1931, May 7, 1931 and May 8, 1931. The pilot's name was not entered in the Register by the tower operator who maintained the Register. However, it's a good bet the name was "Pancho" Barnes. It appears below, right, again from, with the Wright engine as owned and flown by Barnes.

Travel Air NR613K, Ca. 1930 (Source:


NR613K appeared ten times in the Grand Central Air Terminal (GCAT) Register between December 15, 1930 and June 7, 1931. Only twice was the pilot identified as Pancho Barnes, but she was probably the pilot on most of the other occasions. Most of the flights were identified as "Local" by the tower Operators, A.J. Lygum and "Wright." Ground time on most arrivals was brief with only one stay, on April 29, 1931, lasting most of the day.

It is difficult to separate the history of this airplane from the aura of Barnes, since she was such a colorful Golden Age charcter. A 2013 blog about the Mystery Ship is at the link. What follows is the chain of custody for NR613K, with as little shading of Barnes as possible.

Five Mystery ships were built. The motiviation was to design and build an airplane that could beat the then overwhelming military racers in some of the national racing events.

The "Mystery" ships were called that, because the first few were built in secrecy. The first ship off the line, NR614K (S/N RC-2001), was dubbed the "Mystery R," the R standing for Herb Rawdon, one of the Travel Air designers who designed the ship.

An article from Popular Aviation magazine, August, 1932, entitled "The Story of the Famous Mystery S" is at the link (PDF 1.8Mb). NR614K is featured as the lead photograph.

Barnes owned and flew her airplane through 1938. She sold the airframe, with instruments, but without engine, to United Air Services, Union Air Terminal, Burbank, CA. Register pilot Paul Mantz was the president of United Air Services. The bill of sale, dated September 6, 1938, is below.

Bill of Sale, NR613K Airframe (Source: FAA)

On November 4, 1938, she sold the engine, propeller and hub for $750 to Mantz's organization, below.

Bill of Sale, NR613K Engine (Source: FAA)

The airplane's maintenance record states, in United Air Services hands, "Wings completely overhauled and recovered. Gas tanks all removed and overhauled. Entire ship dissembled [sic] and rebuilt. New control cables. Tires. Complete major overhaul." The same engine was installed with a new propeller and hub. A detailed description of the intention for its new life was, "Motion Picture flying and acrobatic & exhibition work." These modifications were completed and the airplane was signed off for flight on June 1, 1939, about nine months after it was purchased by Mantz. It was registered NX613K, experimental, and only bona fide crew members required for the flight were allowed to be carried: no pleasure flights allowed.

NX613K was last registered by United Air Services on March 17, 1941. A gap in the official paperwork exists, with the next entry in the record being on April 29, 1948, well after the end of WWII. The airplane's registration was cancelled.

The registration was reinstated as N613K in the name of Tallmantz Aviation, Inc. (based at Orange County Airport, Santa Ana, CA) on March 14, 1966 after some correspondence begun with the FAA in 1962 wherein Mantz sought recertification of 28 aircraft under his stewardship. For purposes of getting these aircraft some Web exposure, they are tabulated as follows:

Tallmantz Aviation, Inc. Fleet of Movie Ships as of July 6, 1962 (Source: FAA Letter)
N873H Boeing 100 N95W Pitcairn PA-7S N4728V N53422 N1203 Curtiss JN (?) N9456Z N923 Curtiss JN (?)
N2145 Orenco S N2825D N2826D N4729V N63382 N63230 N12222 Lockheed DL-2A Altair --> 9C Orion (RA)
N9890H N7206 Ryan B-1 Brougham (RA) N4727V N8Y Stearman C-3B (RA as NS-8Y) N7212 Ryan B-1 Brougham (RA) N1204 Standard J-1 N3258 Dehavilland DH.4M1
N2821D N5391 Curtiss JN-4 N199E-N965Y Lockheed 1 Vega > 2D N726A N4488 Eberhardt SE5E N613K Travel Air Mystery N53317

I've linked those that are Register airplanes that I have written Web pages for. I've marked with (RA) those that are Register airplanes, but for which I have no information. If you can help with information, please let me KNOW.

The FAA record for NR613K gets a little sketchy here, but on and undetermined date, N613K was sold by Tallmantz to Rosen-Novak Auto Company, Omaha, NB. Then, on May 29, 1968, Rosen-Novak sold it to William Emmert Barnes of Lancaster, CA. This transfer was one of the wonderful moments of Golden Age history brought ahead about 40 years. NR613K was bought at auction by William Barnes, who purchased it on behalf of his mother, "Pancho."

One version of the transaction is from, which states, "At the 1968 Tallmantz auction, word got around that 67-year-old Pancho was there, hoping to buy her plane to restore. When the auctioneer announced a low starting bid, Pancho waved her bid paddle. That was followed by silence. The auctioneer got the message, so he nodded and pointed at her, 'Sold!' and the audience applauded." Another version of the auction is at the link.

William Barnes maintained control of the airplane until his death a few months after his mother in 1975. Title was transferred to Schouling M. Barnes (d. 2011), William Barne's wife and executor of his estate. Shouling Barnes sold the airplane to Ice Strike Corporation of Dover, DE on September 1, 1999. And on July 7, 2006 N613K transferred to and was registered by Skyfire Corporation of Wilmington, DE. NR613K is currently undergoing restoration. Text and photographs of the process are at the link, with hints about the new owners. Hopefully, we'll see it fly again someday.

Of the five Mystery Ships, two are represented in the airfield Registers that are the focus of Delta Mike Airfield, Inc. Our NR613K appears in the Grand Central and Clover Field Registers (the Clover Field visit is identified with Barnes' name in the Register). Additional photographs are at the Clover Field Web site.

The other (fourth) Mystery Ship, NR1313, is found in the Clover Field and Peterson Field Registers flown by Frank Hawks. NR1313 is the "Texaco 13" on display at the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry.