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PILOT STORIES: Page, Randolph Gilham "Dizzy"

Air Mail Service Began: July 10, 1919
Air Mail Service Ends: September 30, 1926
Total Hours Flown: 1452.00
Total Miles Flown: 124,595
Assignments: College Park, Maryland
  Aug 25, 1919 – Bustleton, Pennsylvania
  Dec 8, 1919 – College Park, Maryland
  Aug 16, 1920 – Maywood, Illinois
  September 16, 1920 – College Park, Maryland
  Aug 1, 1923 - Maywood, Illinois

When Randolph Page was ready to takeoff from Hazelhurst on the morning of September 8, 1920 with the first transcontinental mail, there was a delay due to an over-abundance of mail that was scheduled to be carried. Field personnel tried to fit all 16,000 letters into sacks in the mail compartment, but failed. Eager to get started, Page filled a suitcase with the excess mail and strapped it to his wing. Page, the airplane and the mail arrived safely.

Did you know?In September 1926, Page ran into difficulties when a debate over a recent crash caused his dismissal from the service. On September 21, Page was ordered suspended from the service pending an inquiry into the crash of de Havilland airmail airplane #629 near Clarence, Iowa. According to Page's official report, he made a forced landing at Clarence, Iowa to fix a sticking valve at 12:20 p.m. on September 9, 1926. Page said he obtained kerosene and loosened the valve, taking off ten minutes later. "When 10 feet above the ground, motor quit dead and ship went through two telephone lines and crashed in road. Landing gear collapsed lower panels and propeller damaged."

The investigation took place among claims that Page made false statements relative to the disputed crash. Investigators determined that unlike Page's statement about the crash, his airplane never left the ground, nor did he get out to loosen a valve. They did not believe that his crash was due to motor trouble.

In a report dated September 21, 1926, Air Mail Service manager Caldwell wrote that Page's "airplane went under phone line, through a fence and dropped over a 4 foot embankment, crossed road, struck 5 foot embankment, landing gear collapsed. airplane then went through another fence. After striking embankment, airplane nosed up, breaking phone wire."

"Mr. Klatt [a witness to Page's landing] says he approached the airplane to see if all was ok. Page asked Klatt to take his grip, pistol and lunch bucket from airplane. Klatt took Page to his house. Klatt stated that Page was acting very queer and he may have been drunk, although couldn't smell liquor on his breath.

"Manager Bishop advises me that he has smelled liquor on Page's breath after landing there with the west bound mail and states that had he been more under the influence of liquor on 2 or 3 occasions he would have refused to let him take the ship off the field."

Page did not return to service. He ended his days with the U.S. Air Mail Service on September 30, 1926.

Page Page's drawing of disputed crash
  Airplane used in disputed crash
Click on the photos to view a larger image.

(top left) Page at Omaha

(top right) Page's drawing of disputed crash

(bottom right) Airplane used in disputed crash
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