AKA Charles R. Parmalee
Charles Parmelee
Collection of Charles R. Parmelee III, 12-9-04
Charles Parmelee & JN-4
Charles R. Parmelee and his JN-4
Collection of Charles R. Parmelee III, 12-9-04
Via email from Charles R. Parmelee III, 12-9-04
Mr. Cooper:
     A friend sent me a link to this page on your site.
     This is my grandfather, Charles Roy Parmelee Sr., who died before I was born. I have attached a picture for your page, as requested, with my grandfather standing in front of a JN-4, probably in the 20's.
     I am also forwarding the link to my aunt Doris Parmelee Waterman, the baby mentioned on the page, who is indeed still alive, along with her sister Charlene who was born after my grandfather's death.
     My grandfather's name was mis-spelled Parmalee in many of the news accounts of the crash.
      If you would like any more information, let me know.
Charles R. Parmelee III
Editor's Note: I thank Mr. Parmelee for his generosity and for allowing us to know a little bit more about his grandfather and his descendants. I will definitely ask for more information from him and will be happy to add it to this story.
American Air Mail Society

Parmelee, Charles R. PACIFIC AIR TRANSPORT PILOT. (1896-1931). USAS flight training at Dallas, TX (1918); Transport Pilot Rating no. 4557; at the time of his 1931 application for a Contract Air Mail Pilot's Certificate he had been a pilot for J.A.N. Aircraft, Detroit, MI, Ford Motor Co., served as Pan American Airways chief pilot in Cristobal Canal Zone and had logged 5826 hours; Pacific Air Transport pilot or reserve pilot on CAM 8 (1931); killed in a crash at Burbank CA while flying CAM route 8, San Diego-Seattle (1931).


    c/o Pacific Air Transport.
Oakland Municipal Airport
Oakland, Calif.,
March 31, 1931

  Dear Harry:
                     Received a wire from Dick advising me to take the new job and that is just what I did. Found that they knew I was coming and had arranged to give me exactly the job they had offered me in the first place. The reason for that last cable withdrawing their offer was because of a merger of West Coast Air Transport and PAT. This gave them more pilots than they needed. However, insasmuch as I was a prior obligation and had been contracted for before the merger, I was taken care of most satisfactorily.
                     Say Harry, it is sure great to be back in the good ole U.S.A. Also California looks better to me than ever before. Our baby has developed pink cheeks and a husky voice and is getting real tough. I think that the change will be good for the whole family. Personally, I think that I would rather work up here for $500 than down there for $800. As it is, I'll be making the $800 up here.
                     PAT is buying six new high speed Fords and is starting a new passenger service between San Diego and Seattle. My first job will be to ferry the new jobs out from the factory and then to break these old timers in on a Ford.
                     The PAT crowd is a great bunch, and combined with their Boeing brothers make up about the finest bunch of pilots in the world. I am proud to again be one of them.
                     Radioed you from the steamer telling you that I had left my typewriter in the office of the launch landing. Hope you picked it up for me. Now will you do me the favor of trying to get it up here to me. The pilots might ferry it thru to the border and Dick could express to to me. Perhaps it could go on parcel post. Let me know what you can do and I'll reimburse you for any expense.
                     Regards to all the boys. Drop me a line and let me know how everything is coming along.
Letter to "Harry"
via email from William C. Moyers, 1-6-03

My interest in Charles Parmelee is driven by a letter he wrote to a friend in March of 1931. (I've attached the letter.)
In it, he makes a reference to his newborn daughter, saying "our baby has developed pink cheeks and a husky voice and is getting real tough."
Not long after, he died, and I've always wondered what happened to his daughter, whose name was Doris. I'd love to give her this letter, assuming she's still alive (she'd be around 73 now, so it is quite possible).
But I am not yet sure how to attempt to track her down.
William C. Moyers
     Founded early in 1926 by a bus operator in Oregon, Vern Gorst, Pacific Air Transport won the air mail contract for the route between Los Angeles and Seattle. Mail and passenger services started in September. In January 1928 the airline was acquired by Boeing Air Transport, but continued as a separate divison of Boeing, and later United Air Lines, until United merged all divisions under that name in 1934.


Knoxville Journal,
Knoxville, Tennessee: May 7, 1931,,
Transcribed by Bob Davis - 5-27-04
      Burbank, Calif., May 6 (AP) - Lost in a heavy fog, Art Starbuck and Charles R. Parmelee, night air mail pilots crashed into a mountainside and were killed early today. Their bodies were found in the wreckage of their Pacific Air transport company mail plane, eight miles north of here."
Bob Davis

  Charles was killed in a crash at Burbank CA while flying CAM route 8, San Diego-Seattle (1931).
from American Air Mail Catalog, Fifth Edition, Vol. One.

BackBack Home