NC440W Rudder History

The aircraft rudder hanging above you has attached to it some interesting facts. We know from the records that the rudder comes from a Curtiss Wright Travel Air Model 12-Q. You would think that an aircraft company founded by Clyde Cessna, Lloyd Stearman and Walter Beech all of whom became giants in aviation could not fail. These three founded the Travel Air Manufacturing Company in 1925, to manufacture training and touring aircraft, just before the Great Depression. The company failed in 1929 and the rights to the Travel Air designs were taken over by the Curtiss Wright Aircraft Corporation.

We also know factually that this rudder was on NC440W when it was owned and flown by a pilot named Kenneth “Kenny” Neese who flew it out of Oakland, California. Kenny was a pioneer of aviation and held license #323 that was signed by Orville Wright. Some pages of his pilot logbook exist that have him flying this aircraft for student instruction, mail and charter type flying out of Oakland Airport in the 1930’s era.

Kenny was born in California in 1903 and spent time in Alaska in 1932. He died in a crash while ferrying an aircraft in 1944. We do not have specific information on what happened to NC440W, but we do know that the airplane was a part of very early aviation in the San Francisco Bay Area!