Santa travels in style, in a vintage D-25

Santa Claus paid a visit to the Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport (SGH) yesterday afternoon, delighting a large crowd (including my family) with his arrival in a beautiful red biplane. (We assume the reindeer are resting up for their long-distance endurance flight later this month!)

Front view of Santa’s biplane (photo by Lisa Rickey)
Quarter view of Santa’s biplane (photo by Lisa Rickey)
Santa and his helper waving to the crowd, leaving behind the plane, whose tail number “NC928V” can be seen (photo by Lisa Rickey)

Not surprisingly, after several years working in an aviation history archive, I was more interested in the aircraft than Santa. We looked up the tail number “NC928V” almost as soon as we could see it! The FAA entry for N(C)928V informed us that this was a New Standard D-25, manufactured by White Aircraft in 1929! That’s a 90-year-old airplane! Gorgeous and still flying! The D-25 was a classic barnstorming plane, which could carry up to 4 passengers (in addition to the pilot).

Among the tens of thousands of aircraft photographs we have here in our archival collections at Special Collections & Archives, Wright State University Libraries, I was able to find a few historical photos of D-25 aircraft. Here is one, from our Walter Matthews Jefferies Aviation Collection (MS-344):

D-25 aircraft at Poughkeepsie, New York, May 1932
(photo by Erik Miller, from MS-344, box 115, folder 9)

Perhaps even more fun, the New Standard Aircraft was originally founded in 1927 as the Gates-Day Aircraft Company, by Ivan Gates and Charles Day. If the name Ivan Gates sounds familiar, you may recall seeing his name in our November blog post of recently processed collections.

Last December, we acquired at auction a collection of Ivan Gates personal scrapbooks, which are now available for research in MS-646: Ivan R. Gates Collection. A more detailed post is forthcoming about this collection, but for now, enjoy this lovely photo of Ivan and his wife Hazel (also a pilot):

Hazel and Ivan Gates, circa 1930 (from MS-646, Scrapbook 2, page 19)

And finally, last but certainly not least, while conducting research for this post, I came across a YouTube video about the D-25 New Standard biplane. This was of interest in a general sense, of course, but within seconds of clicking the link I realized that it was not just about “a D-25” or even “the D-25” in general — but it’s about the very exact D-25 that Santa arrived in on Sunday! Dewey Davenport, the plane’s owner and pilot, created and shared this great YouTube video with some history of the D-25 plane (both his specific plane and the aircraft model in general), info about its components, up-close views of the interior and controls, and all sorts of interesting facts. He will tell you more about the D-25 than I ever could, so you should check it out.

Dewey Davenport, the owner and pilot of the D-25 that flew Santa into SGH on Sunday, shares a wonderful overview of his New Standard D-25 biplane, in this YouTube video.

I had no idea when we set out to attend the Springfield Santa Fly-in yesterday that I’d have so much fun at work this morning learning more about it all—-but I did! We look forward to attending the event again next year.

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