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Arthur C. Burns Collection

Identifier: H001-78

Scope and Content

The collection consists of correspondence, photographs, philatelic materials, memorabilia and associated printed materials. The correspondence, both incoming and outgoing, includes six letters (1955-70) arranged in chronological order. Associated printed materials include copies of the Gulf Aviation Atlas, a map of the MacRobertson International Air race (London to Melbourne), articles and clippings about the history of aviation (some in OS), as well as reports and newsletters (Bee-hive) of United Aircraft Company. The Arthur C. Burns Collection is housed in two boxes of various sizes totaling 2.4 linear ft. The collection was initially processed with only a container list as description. Due to a change of the content management system, further description proved to be necessary.


  • 1912 - 1970
  • Majority of material found within 1933 - 1965

Language of Materials

Collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection are open for research.

Literary Rights Statement

Permission to publish material from this collection in any form, current or future, must be obtained from the Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.

Biographical Sketch

Arthur C. Burns was born in Brenham, TX on November 15, 1892. He was introduced to aviation at the age of eighteen when the first air meet was held in the United States at Dominguez Field, Los Angeles, CA. By the year 1912, Burns built an airplane with Edwin C. Musick and Harry Reynolds. Musick piloted it, flew nine feet off the ground and then pancaked. Rebuilding the destroyed plane into a front elevator Curtiss airplane, Burns soloed it at Venice, CA on November 15, 1913.

From 1913-1914 he worked for Glenn L. Martin. On December 10, 1914, Burns, Musick, and Reynolds bought their own airplane.

Burns opened a flying school at Griffith Park, Los Angeles, CA, on July 15, 1915. He used a Martin headless pusher powered by an eight-cylinder Curtiss engine, originally used by Glenn L. Martin for exhibition flights. On November 7, he completed his flight test for the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (F.A.I.) license.

He became an exhibition flyer in the Los Angeles, CA area in 1916 and later a civilian instructor at North Island, CA in 1917. On March 24th, he passed a test for Junior Military Aviator.

On April 30, 1918, Burns moved to Rockaway, Long Island, NY, where he was licensed as Naval Aviator No. 610. During most of WWI, he tested various seaplanes and flying boats. He returned to California on July 4, 1919 and became the first regular airline passenger pilot in the U.S. for Chaplin Airlines. For the following eleven years, he flew one month every year with the Naval Reserve.

From 1919-1920 he continued flying for Chaplin Airlines on the San Pedro-Catalina Island, CA route. In 1920, Burns piloted passenger hops in Cuba using a Curtiss MF Flying Boat with K-6, 150 h.p. motor, based out of Manzanillo. He then flew for Pacific Marine Airways in 1922 on the same flight route as Chaplin Airlines, from San Pedro to Catalina Island.

From November 22, 1923 to March 15, 1924, Burns flew for Gulf Coast Airline from New Orleans to Pilot Town, Mississippi, in a Curtiss HS2L Flying Boat with a Liberty Engine. In the year 1924 in California, he also met Mary Schwinn of Chicago, IL. They were later married in Houston, TX.

Burns piloted passenger hops from 1924-1928, mainly at Catalina, in a Curtiss F Flying Boat and Douglas Seaplane. He also flew at Clover Field, Santa Monica, CA., Waco 9, 10, and Fairchild. On October 27, 1928, Burns started flying for Maddux in a Lockheed Vega, J-5. He checked out a Ford Trimotor, J-5 on November 12 and during the remainder of that year flew alternately Ford and Lockheed.

From 1929-1935, Burns piloted J-5 and Wasp powered Ford Tri-motors for Maddux, which merged with TAT to become TAT Maddux on or around July 1, 1929. He flew Fords for TAT Maddux, which became Transcontinental and Western Air on November 1, 1930; then flew Fords, Fokkers, Stearman and Waco Instrument Trainers as well as DC-1 and DC-2 airplanes.

On June 29, 1935, Burns accepted a position with the Bureau of Air Commerce (Civil Aeronautics Administration) and served as an inspector in St. Louis, Washington, D.C., Santa Monica, Van Nuys, and Los Angeles.

Burns donated his Hall-Scott four-cylinder water-cooled airplane engine of 1911 to the National Air Museum, Smithsonian Institution around 1942-1943.

On June 29, 1955, he received his twenty-year service pin from CAA and retired as an Air Carrier Inspector.

From 1955-1965, Burns developed grape ranches in the Coachella Valley of CA. He died in Banning, CA, on May 29, 1970.


2.4 Linear Feet (One manuscript box and one non-standard box (25x21x1.5).)


The collection contains photographs, personal papers, log books, correspondence, magazines, ephemera, and prints.

Series Description

The archivist kept the original organization intact without any further arrangement.

Provenance Statement

The Arthur C. Burns Collection was donated to the History of Aviation Archives, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas, by Mary Burns in multiple accessions beginning on 1978-07-01.

Additional Sources

Additional information about this topic can be found in the History of Aviation Archives in the following collections: Edwin C. Musick Collection, Jack Jaynes Collection, History of Aviation Archives

Image ID

It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission from copyright holders of materials to which this institution does not own copyright.

Images in this collection are identified by a unique number that provides information about the format, record group, collection, series, box, folder, and image numbers. Please use this number when ordering reproductions of images from this collection.

Record Group Code

1 = CAT/Air American Archives

2 = Doolittle Archives

3 = Lighter than Air Archives

4 = George H. Williams, Jr., World War I Aviation Library

5 = History of Aviation Archives (HAC)

6 = University Archives

7 = HAC Stacks

8 = WPRL Stacks

9 = Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Collection

10 = Belsterling Collection

11 = Closed Stacks

12 = Unidentified

13 = Chance Vought Archives

14 = Twirly Birds Archives

Image Format Code

P = Photograph/Postcard

S = Slide

N = Negative

T = Positive Transparency

B = Black and White

C = Color

Example: 5ACB-1-1-PC1

5 = History of Aviation Archives (HAC)

ACB = Arthur C. Burns Collection

= Series Number

1 = Box Number

1 = Folder Number

P = Photograph/Postcard

C = Color

1 = Image Number

Images archived in plastic image holders may also have a location code in the format: 1/TL. In this example, the number is the sheet number and the letters indicate the top left position on the sheet. Position indicators are T = top, L = left, R = right, M = middle, and B = bottom. Position indicators may be combined to describe the position on the sheet, as shown in this example.
Guide to the Arthur C. Burns Collection, 1892-1970
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
English (eng)
Edition statement
First revision by Cassandra Zawojek, 2018-07-26. Second revision by Patrizia Nava, 2018-08-28.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Division, History of Aviation Archives. Repository

3020 Waterview Pkwy
Suite 11.206
Richardson Texas 75080 US
972-883-4590 (Fax)