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 Byrnes 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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J.W. Byrnes landed at least five times at the Grand Central Air Terminal (GCAT) between January 10 and May 30, 1931. Each time he flew the Waco 125 identified as NC6523 (S/N 1483). He carried unidentified passengers to three of his visits. Tower Operator A.J. Lygum did not document his destinations or any other information about Byrnes' flights.

San Diego City Directory, 1929 (Source: ancestry.com)


John Byrnes was a hard actor to research. Lots of "John Byrnes" to choose from, but few really seem to match time, place or industry. I think he was born in New York State, ca. 1900 (1902?). The city directory for San Diego, CA in 1929 listed John W. Byrnes living at 331 20th Street, left, and his occupation was listed as "Aviator."

Although I'm pretty sure our Byrnes is the one referenced in the city directory above, I'm not sure about the following. The 1930 U.S. Census places a John W. Byrnes, age 30, living in Glendale as a lodger at 1421 North San Fernando Road, Glendale, CA. That address today is in an area of modern low-rise apartments on one side of the road and warehouses on the other. He shared the residence with Leon F. Kuney, 28. Their occupations were both identified as an "Attendant" at a "Gas Station." Although not listed as an aviator at ths point, it was early in the Great Depression and people started to make a buck where and when they could. We'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

His Waco NC6523, however, shows up in the Register at least 23 times during 1930-31. Lygum identifies the owner of the airplane as Byrnes at a dozen of these landings. Another owner was identified as "Latchstring Station," and another was identified as "Rancho." If you have any clues about either of these, please let me KNOW. The rest or the ownership columns were left blank in the Register. All but two of the landings were made in the afternoon.

We have some idea of what John Byrnes did with NC6523. He flew it internationally south of the border from Los Angeles. On March 15, 1931 he appeared with the airplane on a U.S. Immigration form, below, traveling from Agua Caliente, Mexico to Los Angeles. At age 29 he carried a single passenger, Daniel B. Northrup (40). None of the visits by NC6523 recorded in the Register match this date.

U.S. Immigration Form, March 15, 1931 (Source: ancestry.com)
U.S. Immigration Form, March 15, 1931 (Source: ancestry.com)

Byrnes' next recorded landing was on May, 1, 1932. Byrnes carried a single passenger, Jean Dickinson, age 21. The bracket around the address could suggest that they lived together, but that was improbable in 1932.

U.S. Immigration Form, May 1, 1931 (Source: ancestry.com)

Two months later on July 18, 1931, Byrnes carried Nancy Drake (24) to the U.S. from Agua Caliente, below. Note that each of these Immigration forms suggest that Byrnes was born ca. 1902. His signature does not match those in the image above and below.

U.S. Immigration Form, July 18, 1931 (Source: ancestry.com)
U.S. Immigration Form, July 18, 1931 (Source: ancestry.com)

He changed airplanes for his January 6, 1935 return from Agua Caliente. He used the Waco INF NC619Y (S/N 3364), below, to carry James Berry back to Los Angeles. NC619Y is a GCAT airplane, landing several years earlier at Glendale on July 1, 1931, pilot unidentified.

U.S. Immigration Form, January, 1935 (Source: ancestry.com)

I found no other U.S. Census, Web or newspaper information. This about all I know regarding John W. Byrnes, aviator. If you have any better information or insight, please let me KNOW.