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 Chase 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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Alexander Chase was born November 10, 1908 in Rice, MN. The 1910 U.S. Census, his first, finds him living with his family in Rice. His father, Albert (age 66) was vice president of a bank. His mother, Minnie (28) was not employed. He lived with a sister and brother, and two servants, Marie Stuss (21) and Augusta Otto (16).

Over the next decade, the family moved to California. The 1920 Census lists Chase at age 11 living in Burbank, CA with his father, Albert (age 76 and retired). He shared the house with his mother, Minnie (37), two brothers, a sister and his aunt Minnie (60). I don't know where he went to school, but it was probably in California, because one record cites his address in 1908 as California. His family must have moved there immediately after his birth.

I don't know where or when he learned to fly, but it was probably late in the 1920s. In fact, on December 23, 1928 a U.S. Immigration form cites him arriving from Legaspi, Philippines at the Port of San Francisco aboard the S.S. Washington. He was 20 years old and a member of the crew. His job with the crew was listed as "O.S." There was no definition of what "O.S." meant.

The 1930 Census places Chase, age 22, at 400 South Columbus Avenue in Glendale, CA. He lived with his mother, now age 46, and his younger brother David (19). I do not know what happened to his father, but he would have been 86 years old in 1930. They owned their home in Glendale and it was valued at $25,000. None of the buildings at the the four corners at the intersection of South Columbus and Elk in Glendale today look like they are of 1930s vintage. Surprisingly, all the Chase family's occupations are identified as "None," including Alexander's.

He was a pilot during 1930, however, because Alexander Chase is signed four times in the Grand Central Air Terminal (GCAT) Register. He landed three times during December, 1930 and once during March, 1931. Each time he flew the Bird aircraft he identified as NC79K. He carried unidentified passengers to three of his landings. According to the notation by tower Operator A.J. Lygum, Chase was the owner of NC79K. No other information appeared in the Register noted by Lygum regarding Chase's home base or destination.

And he made money with his flying during the 1930s. At ancestry.com, there are twelve examples of U.S. Immigration forms that list him carrying passengers from Mexico to the U.S. throughout the 1930s, mostly during 1934. He carried VIPs as well as vacationers looking for a good time south of the border. Coincidentally, he carried one other Register pilot, in her airplane, below.

On May 13, 1934, Chase flew from Agua Caliente, Mexico to San Diego in the Waco NC14004. It is not clear from the form whether he was flying the airplane, or if Louise S. Morris was. She owned the airplane, and can be found with NC14004 signed in the Peterson Field Register a little over a year later on Saturday, August 24, 1935. Gordon and Gordon, Jr. were Louise's husband and son, respectively.

U.S. Immigration Form, May 13, 1934 (Source: ancestry.com)
U.S. Immigration Form, May 13, 1934 (Source: ancestry.com)

Chase flew at least four airplanes on his Mexico trips. On Tuesday, April 24, 1934 he flew the Lockheed 1 Vega NC32E (S/N 33). He carried a family, probably on vacation. And on Sunday, May 20, 1934 and July 1, 1934, Chase flew NC32E with Thomas B. Wanamaker, Jr. (1904-1991), whose grandfather founded Wanamaker's, America's first retail department store chain. In another week, NC32E crashed at San Bernardino, CA July 9, 1934. Chase was not the pilot.

On June 27, 1934 he flew NC2K, a six-passenger Fairchild still registered with the F.A.A. And on September 21, 1934 he carried again Louise Morris in Waco NC14004. Morris appeared to be traveling with two other women, below.

U.S. Immigration Form, September 21, 1934 (Source: ancestry.com)

On April 2, 1936 he flew a group in Lockheed 1 Vega NC7044 (S/N 11). Originally purchased by Maddux Airlines, NC7044 was operated by Curtiss-Wright Flying Service and Grand Central Charter Service. Please follow the link to the airplane to see several photographs of it.

And finally, on November 11, 1936 he carried a Mr. & Mrs. Venoist from Ensenada in Lockheed 5B Vega NC48M, below. NC48M (S/N 100) was once owned by Paul Mantz and flown by him once to Clover Field, Santa Monica, CA on August 15, 1935. It suffered an accident at Saint George, UT December 13, 1938 and was scrapped.

U.S. Immigration Form, November 11, 1936 (Source: ancestry.com)

Chase must have married and then divorced sometime during the 1930s. The 1940 U.S. Census places him at age 31 living in Inglewood, CA with his brother David (now 29 years old) and David's wife Thelma Louise (30). Chase is listed as divorced on the Census form. Both he and his brother were welders for an oil field supply company. At his job Chase earned $1,500 per year. He seemed to have phased out of the flying game temporarily.

However, he went to England at the outset of WWII and flew for the Air Transport Auxilliary (ATA). He was identified at the link as a Flight Captain, serving the ATA from September 4, 1940 to September, 1945 (scroll about halfway down that page). It is from the link we learn that he married again in England. The source states, "He 'cemented his union with this country by choosing a British wife and, being of a very modest and unobtrusive nature, arranged a Registry Office wedding without mentioning the matter to any of his friends.'"

And further, "As was to be expected, every pilot at his home station, Prestwick, was soon aware of the day, the place and the time, and, when the unfortunate couple left the Registrar they were met by a solid block of 40 pilots. After being carried out and suitably fêted at a nearby hotel, the bridegroom was finally escorted from the scene in a wheelbarrow." He was described as, "An excellent officer in all respects."

This is all the information I have about Chase. All my familiar sources are not very informative. If you can help fill in the blanks regarding his personal life, where he learned to fly, and his later life, please let me KNOW.

Alexander Chase passed away June 1, 2000 at San Luis Obispo, CA. He was one of a handful of Register pilots to live into the 21st century. Some others are Bob Buck, John Miller, William T. Piper, Jr. and Bobbi Trout, all signers of the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register, and Harold Boddorff of the Pitcairn Field Register, all of whom I have met personally.



THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 12/14/15 REVISED: 11/11/16