LOCKHEED VEGA V
Via email from Mike Banks, 3-20-04
Here are some details on the Lockheed Vega that William S. Brock and Edward F. Schlee used to set their transcontinental round-trip record in 1929. It has an interesting history. this was a Lockheed Vega 5, built in 1928 on special order for Brock and Schlee. The serial number may have been 619. The registration number was NC496M. The cockpit seated only one, and the passenger compartment was laid out for six. The Vega came equipped with a Pratt & Whitney 450-horsepower Whirlwind engine.
Radio and broadcasting magnate Powel Crosley, Jr. bought the airplane in August, 1930, and Billy Brock came along with it and went to work as Crosley's corporate pilot. Crosley had it repainted (red fuselage and cream-colored wings) and christened the airplane the "New Cincinnati."
Brock immediately set an inter-city record with the New Cincinnati, flying Crosley from the Crosley Airport in Cincinnati to T.A.T. Airport in Indianapolis in 43 minutes. He broke the record on the return trip with a time of 38 minutes.
Powel Crosley, Jr. entered the airplane in the 1930 National Air Races and the National Air Tour. Brock piloted the Vega, with WLW announcer Bob Brown along as a passenger. (Brown broadcast during both events.) Despite carrying Brown and 600 pounds of radio equipment, Brock flew the Vega to a 4th-place finish in the Los Angles to Chicago Air Derby on August 23, 1930.
Subsequent to Brock leaving Crosley's employ, aviatrix Ruth Nichols used the Lockheed Vega to set several women's records in 1930 and 1931. Her technical advisor, Clarence Chamberlain, outfitted the airplane for a trans-Atlantic flight, but Nichols was delayed by first a crash and then a fire in the Vega, and Amelia Earhart edged her out as the first woman to fly the Atlantic solo. The airplane's last known location was Roosevelt Field, where it as awaiting repairs after a ground loop late in 1931.
-Michael A. Banks