This interesting old photo was posted on Facebook a couple of years ago by Richard & Sandy Holben. It was supposed to have been taken at the old Brookville air-port. I recognized the airplane as a Lockheed Vega, a model that was produced from 1927 to 1934. It was state of the art in its day—and a real hot rod. There are two Lockheed Vegas in the Smithsonian, one flown across the Atlantic by Amelia Earhart, and the other, flown around the world by Wiley Post. But what was the story about this machine, and why was it at Brookville?
The first, and most important clue, was the registration number. These are assigned when the airplane is built and never change. Although the photo is a little blurry the number C 3625 can be read under the wing and on the rudder. I happen to have a book on the Vega and found that #3625 was the third of that model airplane built by Lockheed. It was used as a demonstrator and then sold to publisher and fitness guru, Bernarr McFadden. On September 8, 1928 it was entered in a cross-country air race and left Roosevelt Field on Long Island about 7:00 a.m. The destination that day was Terre Haute, IN but, as the article in the (9-13-28) Brookville American describes, it never made it that far, being forced down by heavy fog and an engine fire. The article confirms that the aircraft was photographed at Brookville, and explains why the engine was missing.
Author: Eric Armstrong