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.


the register


I'm looking for information and photographs of Rice and his airplanes to include on this page. If you have some you'd like to share, please click this FORM to contact me.






You may NOW donate via PAYPAL by clicking the "Donate" icon below and using your credit card. You may use your card or your PAYPAL account. You are not required to have a PAYPAL account to donate.


When your donation clears the PAYPAL system, a certified receipt from Delta Mike Airfield, Inc. will be emailed to you for your tax purposes.





George Rice was born July 30, 1897 in Redwood City, CA. The 1900 U.S. Census, his first, places him living with his parents Clark (1865-1949) and Mary (1869-1940) in Redwood City. In the 1910 Census Rice (age 12) is with his parents at the same address. A sister has been added, Margaret (5). I have no information about his whereabouts in 1920.

Rice learned to fly, probably in the military during or soon after WWI. He joined Western Air Express (WAE) sometime before 1929 when it was still WAE. Early in his career he discovered the remains of a horrific early air transport accident as documented in the article he wrote for The New York Times (NYT) of September 8, 1929, below. Note that he is identified by military rank in the article.

George Rice Article, The New York Times, September 8, 1929 (Source: NYT)


San Mateo (CA) Times, October 16, 1930 (Source: Woodling)
San Mateo (CA) Times, October 16, 1930 (Source: Woodling)




From the article, pilot Stowe was not a Register pilot, nor was NC9649, a Ford 5-AT-B, a Register airplane. One of the databases I use to identify airplanes states that NC9649, "Crashed Mount Taylor NM 3.9.29." The crash, Rice's discovery of it, and the appearance of his article in the NYT all occurred in five days.

Over a year later, on October 16, 1930, the San Mateo (CA) Times, right, reported on a magazine article that featured Rice's role in the discovery of the missing T.A.T. airliner. The article describes his early experiences learning to fly in the Army; bases he was assigned to. Note that it is not 14,200 miles between Los Angeles and Kansas City.

A more extensive description of the discovery of the Ford wreckage by Rice appeared in the Reno Evening Gazette (NV) September 7, 1929, below.





T. A. T. Air Liner Crashed In New Mexico, Report of Searchers States Today

Official Announcement Is Given out At St. Louis Offices of Flying Concern of Air Tragedy

Actual Recovery of Bodies Expected to Be Delayed because of Rough Character of Country

NEW YORK, Sept. 7. --(AP)--Paul Henderson, vice president of the Transcontinental Air Transport, today issued a statement here in which he said a representative of the company had made a flight over the scene of the wreck of the City of San Francisco and that his report said it was improbable that any of the eight occupants had escaped alive.

Colonel Henderson's statement said:
"The missing T. A. T. plane has been discovered on the side of Mount Taylor, north of Grant, N. M., wrecked. The report has been confirmed by a second flight over the scene. The character of the wreck makes it extremely doubtful that any of the passengers or crew have escaped. An overland party is now making its way to the spot."

The statement was transmitted to the relatives of those believed lost in the plane. Colonel Henderson was on his way west to direct the search from southwestern headquarters and dictated the statement to his offices here over long distance phone.

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 7. --(AP)--Racing from a storm, the newest of air transport liners crashed into the side of a ten-thousand-foot mountain and exploded last Tuesday in the most desolate section of Central New Mexico, with instant death to its human cargo of one woman and seven men, advices to the Transcontinental Air Transport Company here today indicated.

The wreckage of the big tri-motor all-metal monoplane, a burned twisted mass of metal, was discovered on the south slope of Mount Taylor at 11:03 o'clock this morning by a Western Air Express eastbound transport monoplane.

Lieut. George K. Rice, pilot of the Western Air Express transport, which had four passengers and was bound from Los Angeles to Albuquerque, made the discovery. He first noticed what appeared to be a bit of snow on the south side of the ten thousand-foot mountain. He swerved his big Fokker monoplane around and zoomed down to within a thousand feet.

There the appalling sight of twisted burned metal, and a circle of burned trees surrounding it was revealed to Lieutenant Rice, his co-pilot and the four passengers.

Thrice did Lieutenant Rice circle the tragic scene. It is one of the most rugged sections of the Wild West. Not only were there no landing possibilities in the vicinity, but there were no roads leading to the scene and even passage by horse appeared to be impossible. No sign of any living thing was found near the wreckage.
The trained experienced eyes of Lieutenant Rice, who was a world war flier, instantly revealed to him the tragedy. Knowing that the plane had circled Grants, N. M., Tuesday just about noon, and this scene being to the northwest, it was apparent that Pilot J. B. Stowe of the City of San Francisco was racing back toward Albuquerque to avoid the storms which held other air transports to the ground on that fatal day.

There were one woman and seven men aboard the City of San Francisco. It left Albuquerque on Tuesday morning, in face of adverse weather hoping to get through to Los Angeles that afternoon.

The passengers aboard were:
Mrs. Corina Raymond, wife of George B. Raymond of Glendale, Cal., a clerk of the Transcontinental Air Transport Company, owners of the City of San Francisco.

Amasa B. McGaffey, wealthy lumberman of Albuquerque

William Livermore, shipping man of Boston

M. M. Campbell of Cincinnati, paper concern sales manager

William Henry Beers, New York golf magazine editor

Members of the crew were: J. B. Stowe, chief pilot of Clovis N. M.; Edwin A. Dietel, co-pilot of New Braunfels, Tex.; C. F. Canfield, New York, courier.

When the disappearance of the plane became known Tuesday evening, one of the greatest hunts in the history of the Wild West and the most spectacular aerial search ever conducted, got under way.

Scores of army, navy, marine corps and civilian planes sailed through the clouds and storm-beset skies of the widest section of the continental United States.

Thousands of others joined in the search by land. There were Indian Hopi and Navajo tribes, cowboys, prospectors and motorists.

More than fifty thousand miles of western New Mexico and eastern Arizona were combed from the sky and ground. Rumors of all sorts developed each day, which sent searchers into all sections of both states and even into Mexico.

But it remained for another transport plane, operating over the same route as the ill-fated liner, to discover the tragic termination of the last cruise of the ill-fated City of San Francisco. It was shortly before noon today that word was flashed into the offices of the Transcontinental Air Transport Company that the search was at an end.

"Found T. A. T. plane burned on south slope of Mount Taylor, west of Albuquerque," was the message flashed in from Albuquerque by Lieut. Rice. "If T. A. T. hasn't available plane, will take Western Air Express plane to two ground crew to wreck."

Lieutenant Rice turned his ship over to the co-pilot to carry the four passengers on to their Kansas City destination. he immediately took off from Albuquerque for the scene of the wreck again.

All searching ships were then ordered grounded by the T. A. T. officials, and three ships were dispatched immediately from Winslow, Ariz., the strategic center of the search, about a hundred miles from the scene.

The rugged wilderness of the terrain surrounding the wreckage of the City of San Francisco was being penetrated by pack trains from the nearest settlements. Reports from the land parties which were being outfitted indicated that it would take several hours perhaps before they could make their way to the point of the disaster.

ALBUQUERQUE, N. M. Sept. 7--(AP)--Transcontinental Air Transport pilot returning here from Mount Taylor, where George Rice, a Western Air Express pilot, reported he had found the "City of San Francisco," said he also had sighted the wreckage.

The wreckage was plainly visible from his ship, the pilot said. Instructions immediately were telephoned to the San Fernandez Cattle Company, situated between Grant and San Mateo, to send a number of pack horses to Mount Taylor, to pick up the wreckage.

Mount Taylor is one of the highest mountain peaks between the Mississippi river and the Pacific coast, and aviation officials here said they could easily understand how it would be possible for a plane to crash there if trouble developed. The mountain is an extinct volcano.

There are no roads in the immediate vicinity of the mountain and it will be necessary to send pack horses. Wagons cannot get through from San Mateo.
Once the rescue party gets out of the mountain vastness they will be able to traverse a highway running between San Mateo and Grant. It will require several hours before the rescue parties can return to Grant, however.

When news was flashed today that the four-day search for the City of San Francisco and its load of eight had ended, it was the signal for the departure of a stock of airplanes to Mount Taylor from airports of New Mexico and Arizona.

Four planes took off here immediately. Others set out from Gallup, N. M. and Winslow, Ariz. Word was sent by telephone to towns near the mountain, and relief parties immediately set out, some on horseback and some with wagons and others on foot.

It is possible that a base of operations for salvage parties may be established at Cubero, as there is a landing field one and one-half miles west of there. Mount Taylor would be more accessible from Cubero than from Grant, N.M.

CUBERO, N. M., Sept. 7--(AP)--The telephone operator at Cubero, which is fifteen miles from the south slope of Mount Taylor, reported at 2:20 p. m. (M. S. T.) that Transcontinental Air Transport plane NC-9645 was circling over the south slope of the mountain where the lost City of San Francisco has been located.
Residents of Cubero could see the T. A. T. plane "City of Indianapolis" circling above the wreckage, but could not see the wrecked plane from the town. The fifteen miles between Cubero and the south slope of Mount Taylor is wooded and mountainous.

WINSLOW, Ariz., Sept. 7--(AP)--The first report from a searching pilot that wreckage of the missing monoplane City of San Francisco had been sighted electrified Winslow shortly before 1 o'clock today. A message flashed in from Albuquerque over the Transcontinental Air Transport teletype that Pilot George Rice of the Western Air Express had spotted wreckage on the slope of Mount Taylor, in New Mexico, thirty miles northeast of Grants, N. M.

Three T. A. T. planes equipped with radio sending and receiving apparatus immediately left the field here to investigate. This report would place the missing plane just north of the regular route, and would indicate that it turned back towards Albuquerque after having passed over Grants where it was sighted Tuesday morning.

The wreckage reported sighted by Rice, according to the T. A. T. ticker message, was burned, which would have meant death to the eight persons aboard. The investigating planes from Winslow were expected to reach the point within the hour.

ST. LOUIS, Sept. 7--(AP)--Transcontinental Air Transport headquarters here announced late today that wreckage of the T. A. T. passenger plane, "City of San Francisco" had been found on Mount Taylor, New Mexico, with all occupants dead.

It was announced that the T. A. T. plane "City of Wichita," which carries radio sending apparatus, had been dispatched to Mount Taylor. At 3:00 p. m., the T. A. T. teletype here delivered a message stating communications from the T. A. T. radio sending ship "A-3," announced sighting the burned airplane on the side of Mount Taylor, and definitely identified it as "The City of San Francisco."

T. A. T. officials estimated that the ship was wrecked on Mount Taylor at about noon Tuesday. The last official report of its whereabouts was its departure from Albuquerque for Winslow, Ariz., at 10:20 a. m. Tuesday.
At 2:53 p. m. the teletype carried the one-word message "confirm" to Magee from General Superintendent Collins, which was interpreted to mean that Collins at Albuquerque had received definite word from the "A-3" that the wrecked ship had been found and identified.

A statement issued by Vice President J. V. Magee of T. A. T. here said:
"George Rice," Western Air Express pilot, reported to T. A. T. officials that he found the plane or the south side of Mount Taylor. John Collins [should be John Collings], Western superintendent of T. A. T., talked with Rice on the telephone and asked Rice if there was any possibility that he was mistaken and Rice said 'positively no.' Rice stated he circled the plane several times and that it had undoubtedly crashed into the mountain as it had burned up."

"Rice had been assigned," the statement continued, "to the territory where the plane was found by John Collins [sic], who told Rice to concentrate on Mount Taylor. Rice returned to the Western Express field at Albuquerque where he talked on the telephone with John Collins [sic], at Winslow. Pilot Scott in a T. A. T. plane equipped with radio picked up Rice at the Western Air Express field and started for Mount Taylor."

Donald Bartlett, vice president of T. A. T. in charge of operations, and Magee said they accepted the report as correct and announced the five passengers and three crew members were dead. First information received at the general offices of T. A. T. here was at 1:40 p. m., when the company's private teletype system ticked off a message from Albuquerque, relayed through Waynoka, Okla.

The message was: "Rice, Western air pilot of Albuquerque, reports plane absolutely found on side of Mount Taylor. Scott going out now to investigate. Rice has returned to Albuquerque and is being called by telephone. Will let you know when he reports."

At 2:20 p. m. the general office here announced it was preparing a formal announcement that the missing plane had been sighted on Mount Taylor by Pilot George Rice and that it was certain all on board were dead.
Rice reported he had circled Mount Taylor three times, at low altitude, and that he was certain the plane he saw was the missing ship. He said it appeared the plane had flown into the peak itself in timber land and had burned.

ALBUQUERQUE, N. M., Sept. 7--(AP)--"We have figured that the T. A. T. pilot was north of his course on account of a storm which he had seen over the petrified forest on Tuesday when he flew the route from Albuquerque to Los Angeles.

"When we left Los Angeles this morning we went to the petrified forest, which is about thirty miles south and east of Holbrook, Ariz., and we then zig-zagged through the mountains keeping a constant lookout for the lost plane.

"We circled the southern side of Mount Taylor and at about 1000 feet above the ground we saw scattered bits of duralumin. These bits of duralumin extended about one-eighth of a mile.

"Then we saw the left wing of the plane where it had been cut off by striking a tree. The wing was turned upside down and we could read the numbers 9649 on it.

"From out altitude we could see the initials T. A. T., but most of the rest of the cabin was in ashes. We could see part of the elevators.

"On last Tuesday when we flew over this territory the storm was laying over Mount Taylor and was blowing from the Southeast and blowing fast.

"We encountered the storm Tuesday between Holbrook and Albuquerque."

SAN FERNANDEZ CATTLE RANCH, N. M., Sept. 7. --(AP)--Floyd Lee, owner of the San Fernandez Cattle Company, has sent eleven on horseback to the south slope of Mount Taylor to salvage the wreckage of "The City of San Francisco."

The San Fernandez ranch, midway between Grant and San Mateo, N. M., probably will be used as a base of operations because it is the nearest contact with the south slope of the mountain.

Lee, who is directing the efforts to find the wrecked plane, said his men should reach the section designated by T. A. T. officials about four o'clock (M. S. T.) Lee is a New Mexico state senator.

LOS LUNAS, N. M., Sept. 7--(AP)--District Attorney Fred Nichols of the judicial district in which Mount Taylor is located in Valencia county, left here this afternoon by automobile to go to the wrecked "City of San Francisco" to conduct an inquest. Before leaving Los Lunas, Mr. Nichols made arrangements to have a jury at the San Fernandez Cattle Company ranch to accompany him to the wrecked plane.


San Mateo (CA) Times, November 13, 1934 (Source: Woodling)


In 1934, Rice took his own turn at crash-landing a company mail plane. The article, left, describes the circumstances and the aftermath. While he suffered facial injuries, he maintained overnight vigil over his airplane and the mail. The airplane appears to be a low-wing monoplane with the nose torn off. The airplane was the Northrop Alpha NC999Y, one of the fleet of Alphas operated by T.W.A. as mail planes during the 1930s. In the same issue of the newspaper, another article updated Rice's condition, below.

The 1930 U.S. Census placed George (age 31) living with his wife, Bernice (28; 1902-?) and daughter Peggy Jean (1). They lived in a rented home ($33/month) at 115 Fisk Avenue in San Gabriel, CA. His work was listed as "Aviator" for "Western Air Express." They had been married seven years at that point. Coincidently, on the same Census form, Giles Putman, a mechanic at the airport, lived around the corner from him, as did mechanic James O. Martin.

Rice's first appearance in the Grand Central Air Terminal (GCAT) Register was on Sunday, December 14, 1930 at 9:02AM. He flew the Fokker F-32 transport NC333N. No information about itinerary was included in the Register. Neither was there identification for his co-pilot or passengers. He remained on the ground until 9:08 before departing. The owner of the airplane was cited in the Register by tower operator A.J. Lygum as "T.W.A. Incorporated."

San Mateo (CA) Times, November 13, 1934 (Source: Woodling)


Historically, WAE had incorporated in 1928. Then, in 1930, purchased Standard Air Lines (PDF 670kB), a subsidiary of Aero Corporation of California founded in 1926 by Paul E. RichterJack Frye and Walter Hamilton. WAE, which flew Fokker aircraft, merged withTranscontinental Air Transport to form Trans World Airlines (T.W.A.). WAE merged into T.W.A. after the 1930 Census was taken!

G.K. Rice, T.W.A. Skyliner, September, 1942 (Source: Woodling)


The Fokker NC333N appeared frequently at GCAT (signed in the Register 41 times). Rice's fellow Register pilots, H.H. Holloway, E.A. Bellande and Royal Leonard also flew the airplane for T.W.A. It and its sister ship, NC334N were the largest U.S. transport aircraft of the era. Unfortunately, they were difficult to maintain (engine problems) and they were phased out of the fleet after only a year or so. Please direct your browsers to their links to read (with photographs) about these grand aircraft.

George Rice (Source: SDAM)


Rice's second appearance in the Register was on Tuesday, April 14, 1931 at 10:00AM. This time he flew the T.W.A. Ford NC9686. Neither co-pilot nor passengers were identified, but this time his destination was San Francisco, CA. NC9686 was a workhorse for T.W.A. It is signed in the Register 45 times during early 1931. Its route was most times back and forth to San Francisco, with just a few trips to Kansas City, MO, and one hop to Agua Caliente, Mexico.

Even as the Great Depression deepened, on November 16, 1932, Rice and Bernice were affluent enough to travel on the S.S Champlain from Plymouth, England to New York. An immigration form at ancestry.com documents their trip. Peggy Jean would have been three years old and was not with them. Their address was still Fisk Avenue.

The undated (1940s?) photograph, right, from the San Diego Aerospace Museum Flickr Stream (SDAM) is at the link. He is cropped from a posed photo of other T.W.A. pilots and principals, including H.H. "Dutch" Holloway, Eddie Bellande and Paul Richter.

City directories through the 1930s corroborate the Rice family domiciles. In 1931 they remained at their Fisk Avenue address. He was identified as an "Aviator." In 1936, in the Glendale, CA directory, he was identified as a "Pilot" for "TWA." Their address in 1936 was 1521 Grandview in Glendale. A 1939 Burbank, CA city directory cites Rice as a "Salesman" living with Bernice at their East 10th Street address (see below). The same directory for 1940, listing the same address, lists him as a "Pilot" again. I have no explanation for the shift from pilot to salesman to pilot. Perhaps it was a typographical error in the directory.

Things improved for the Rice family as evidenced by the 1940 Census. Now Rice (age 42) and Bernice had three children, Peggy (now 11), Barbara (3) and George T. "Tommy" (1). Also in the household were Jennie W. Pemberton (67), a practical nurse, and Alma V. Ayres (29), a servant. They all lived in Glendale, CA at 525 East 10th St., which they rented for $60/month. Their neighborhood today is all commercial.

Article, above left, from the September, 1942 issue of T.W.A. Skyliner, cites Rice's promotion to T.W.A. system chief pilot. He was previously chief pilot for the Pacific division, where we found him signed in the GCAT Register during 1930-1931. Other Register pilots are among the men mentioned in this article. W.G. Golien appears in the Peterson Field Register and John A. Collings signed the Davis-Monthan Airfield Register in Tucson. A biographical sketch up to 1944 appeared in the September, 1944 issue of the T.W.A. Skyliner, below.

T.W.A. Skyliner, September, 1944 (Source: Woodling)

Another article and accompanying photograph celebrated the 20th anniversary of George Rice with T.W.A. The photograph is below. Rice is pictured 5th from left. Note Register pilot Lew Goss at far left.

T.W.A. Skyliner, July 29, 1948 (Source: Woodling)
T.W.A. Skyliner, July 29, 1948 (Source: Woodling)


July 8, 1963, Rice Obituary (Source: Woodling)



I have no further information about his personal life or what he did for fun other than ranching. If you can help fill in the blanks, please let me KNOW. George Rice flew West on July 6, 1963. He was 65 years old. He carryied Transport pilot certificate T2297. His unsourced obituary is at right.





THIS PAGE UPLOADED: 12/08/15 REVISED: 01/12/16, 01/14/16, 7/20/16