The stops of Charles Lindbergh at Chattanooga’s Marr Field in East Chattanooga, north of Glass Street, on October 5, 1927 as part of his international tour of America, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean are well documented in the literature and history books.
Much less is known of the pilot and aircraft that accompanied Lindbergh and preceded him on each of the approximate 80 city stops in the United States and Canada and the 15 countries south of the border that started on July 20, 1927 and ended in Havana, Cuba on February 13, 1928.
The trip financed by the Daniel Guggenheim Fund included an escort aircraft that would carry one pilot and four passengers.
The trip by the Spirit of St.
Louis was designed to promote development of aviation with the Department of Commerce of the United States Government as a sponsor.
The aircraft chosen to land ahead of Lindbergh at each of the designated stops on the itinerary was a Fairchild FC-2 (Fairchild Cabin No. 2) and was powered by a Wright J-15 radial engine producing 220 horsepower which was the same type and model in the Spirit of St. Louis.
The aircraft had a fuel capacity of 75 gallons and could cruise at 103 miles/hour.
The plane could carry a gross weight of 3,225 pounds which would include spare parts and tools, as well as other baggage, cameras, and a crew of four that might be needed to service it and Lindbergh’s plane throughout the lengthy trip. It had a unique feature that allowed its wings to be folded back in order that it could be stored overnight in smaller areas since the Spirit did not have the same flexibility.
The Fairchild was piloted by Phillip R. Love and its crew consisted of D.E. Keyhoe, who served as manager of the tour, and C.C. Maidmont, who was an experienced aviation mechanic who performed any necessary repairs on either of the planes.
The literature about the Fairchild has conflicts about its description. Some articles describe it as a “red” monoplane while others claim the fuselage was painted black as well as markings on the wing, fins, and rudder. Other parts of the wings and tail group were painted orange. It had been described as “the one-ton truck of the air, a jack-of-all-trades aircraft.” Unlike the Spirit, it was of all metal construction. Its fuel capacity was much less than the Spirit. Nevertheless it was a powerful aircraft that performed well throughout the entire tour.
Phillip R. Love was a longtime friend of Charles Lindbergh and had served with him in the Army and as pilots in the infant United States Mail Service. Lindbergh specifically requested that Love be selected as pilot of the escort Fairchild plane owned by the Department of Commerce.
As a testament of Lindbergh’s confidence in Love he was only one of two pilots that were authorized by Lindbergh to fly the Spirit without him being present. The event was a 10-minute flight over Louisville, Kentucky.
The standard procedure was that Love would take off 30 minutes prior to Lindbergh and would land before the Spirit in order to prepare the welcoming committee for his arrival.
Lindbergh would be participating in the festivities at each location by giving a speech promoting aviation and accepting one of the thousands of gifts or commemorative scrolls. Meanwhile, Love and Maidmont would check the mechanical condition of each plane and prepare them for the next leg of the trip.
Phil Love achieved the rank of Colonel of the United States Army Air Corps and was killed in a plane crash on May 31, 1943 when his Douglas C-67 struck a mountain peak in Nevada while on a flight leg from Colorado Springs, Colorado to Reno, Nevada.
Prior to his death he was an outspoken advocate of the development of aviation and spoke on the subject on many occasions.
On May 23, 1929, he addressed a notional aeronautical group in St. Louis and advised the body that “it is as necessary for a town or area to provide facilities and accept and adopt aviation now as it was for acceptance and adoption of the railroad three quarters a century ago!”
Phil Love was always considered by Charles Lindbergh as being a vital part of the successful completion of the post New York to Paris tour across America and other countries.