A very readable volume about the Grand Central Air Terminal is this book:

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


Thanks to Guest Editor Bob Woodling for help researching this page.


the register


I'm looking for information and photographs of Busch and his 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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According to ancestry.com, Benjamin Busch was born September 7, 1884 in Jordan, MN. He was one of the older Register pilots to be signed in any Register. His early life was difficult to research. I know nothing of his life before the following.

As WWI spooled up, Busch was called to the draft at age 34. His draft card, dated September 12, 1918, is below. Note that he was living in Omaha, NB and working as a telegraph operator for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad. He was married to Mabel. He was described as tall, slender, with blue eyes and light brown hair. His wife was identified as Mabel, so we know he was married before the date of his draft card.

B.J. Busch, Draft Card, September 12, 1918 (Source: ancestry.com)

I do not know exactly when he moved from Nebraska to California. Nor do I know when or where he learned to fly, but Benjamin Busch is signed in the Grand Central Air Terminal (GCAT) Register three times in short succession. On Monday, March 23, 1931 he landed at 8:58AM. He carried a single, unidentified passenger. On Friday May 22, 1931 at 10:31AM he landed solo. No other information was cited in the Register except his and his airplane's presence.

Salt Lake Tribune, November 13, 1929 (Source: Woodling)


His final landing was on Thursday, May 28, 1931 at 8:41AM. His destination this time, recorded by tower Operator A.J. Lygum, was Brawley, CA, a town just southeast of the Salton Sea in southern California. To each landing Busch flew the Curtiss Robin identified as NC387K (S/N 546, a model C-1). At each landing the airplane was identified as belonging to him.

Earlier, on November 12, 1929, Busch was involved, probably at GCAT, in an accident that was more embarrassing than painful. His crash was documented in the Salt Lake Tribune of November 13, 1929 at right. It is not clear if Busch's crashed airplane was NC387K. Please direct your browser to GCAT pilot Daniel Santry to read about a similar "sandwich" accident.

Aero Digest, 1930

THE Curtiss- Wright Flying Service has
started the operation of three planes in
crop-dusting work in the San Joaquin Val-
ley, Calif., and will begin airplane crop-
dusting operations in the Orange County
district, according to a recent announcement of officials of the company.

Paul C. Jackson is supervisor of all crop-
dusting activities for the Curtiss-Wright
Flying Service, and Benjamin J. Busch is
sales director of the Los Angeles base. The
company has contracted with Western Sul-
phur Industries and the Agricultural Chem-
ical Works to supply the materials used in

Busch also flew NC387K through Tucson, AZ. He and the airplane are signed in the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register on Friday, June 26, 1931 at 11:30AM. He identifed his origin as Glendale, CA, and his destination as Los Angeles. He had arrived from Nogales, AZ. He carried as his sole passenger, "Mrs. B. Busch," Mabel.

Busch's airplane was sold in the 1930s (probably between 1932 and 1934) and wound up in Alaska serving Star Air Service as a ski-equipped cargo hauler. The photograph of NC387K, below, is from the link. Star Air Service, through merger, was an immediate ancestor of Alaska Airlines. I do not know the ultimate fate of NC387K.

Curtiss Robin NC387K, Ca. 1930s (Source: Link)
Curtiss Robin NC387K, Ca. 1930s (Source: Link)


The article, above, from Aero Digest, 1930 describes the crop-dusting operations that comprised one of the company's services.

Busch was the director of sales for the Curtiss-Wright Flying Service operation at GCAT for C.C. Moseley. He was in that job a considerable time. The city directory for Glendale for 1923 cites him in that position. And the Glendale city directory for 1931 identifies him living with Mabel S. at 410 Salem in Glendale. He is described as "sls mgr Curtiss-Wright Flying Serv."

Like the fate of his airplane, I know nothing about Busch's activities during the later 1930s after he sold his airplane, and up to the beginning of WWII. It seems he left Curtiss-Wright late in the 1930s. I do not know exactly when, and I do not know if he ever owned an airplane or flew after that.

However, the Glendale city directory for 1939 describes him as "mgr Class Health Institute." He and Mabel lived at 309 West Colorado Blvd. in Glendale. That address today appears to be a parking lot. He must have left Curtiss-Wright during or before 1939.

Likewise, the 1940 Glendale directory has him working for the same employer and living at 1241-A E. Wilson Ave., Glendale, CA. This address on Google Earth today looks like a side-by-side two-family home that could be of early 1940s vintage.

His WWII draft card lists him at age 58 at the same address. His wife is listed as Mabel, and his employer is the Class Institute at 101 No. Central Avenue, Glendale, CA.This card has no date on it, but the date is probably 1942, because he would have been 58 that year. An image of his draft card is below.

Benjamin Joseph Busch, WWII Draft Card, Ca. 1942 (Source: ancestry.com)

I do not know if he served in any capacity during WWII. The 1959-1961 Ventura county directories and the Oxnard city directory for 1962 list Busch and Mabel involved with the Star Pine Nursery. They lived at 355 Walnut Drive in El Rio on the northern outskirts of Oxnard. There is a Star Pine Nursery still in business, but it is located far south of Los Angeles.

B.J. Busch, Marker, 1964 (Source: findagrave)
Mabel Busch, Marker, 1963 (Source: findagrave)
Mabel Busch, Marker, 1963 (Source: findagrave)


B.J. Busch flew West on April 12, 1964. His grave marker is at left. He was interred at Grand View Memorial Park, Glendale, CA.

Mabel had preceded him in death by a year. Her similar marker is also at Grand View Memorial Park, right.

If you know anything about Busch's life that will fill in the blanks in the information above, or know what his military obligations might have been, or if he and Mabel had children, please let me KNOW.