Alaska - Canada News
Gimli C-46 Update – May 5, 2019
Buffalo Airways L188A Electra C-GLBA - in Buffalo colors
Buffalo Airways L188A Electra C-FIJV - former N9744C in Reeve Aleutian colors
Buffalo Airways L188C Electra C-GIZU - former G-FIZU in Atlantic Airlines colors
Buffalo Airways DC-4 C-GBNV #56 - converted from fire bomber to dispersant sprayer in full Buffalo colors
Buffalo Airways T-29B/CV240 C-GTFC - in faded Trans Fair colors
Buffalo Airways DST/DC-3 CF-VQV - rare Douglas DST
Buffalo Airways DC-3 CF-YQG - in faded Nunasi Central colors - sold to Basler Turbo Conversions in September 2018 as N856RB
Buffalo Airways DC-3 CF-JWP - in Gateway Aviation colors - sold to Basler Turbo Conversions in September 2018 as N856YB
Buffalo Airways DC-3 C-FFAY - sold to Basler Turbo Conversions in September 2018 as N856QB
Buffalo Airways DC-3 C-FDTB - sold to Basler Turbo Conversions in September 2018 as N856KB
Buffalo Airways DC-3 C-FBAE - former C-FDTH (see underwing markings)
Buffalo Airways DC-3 C-GWZS - temporarily stored in full Buffalo colors
Buffalo Airways C-47 C-FROD/RCAF 12927) - original military C-47 configuration in RCAF Training Command colors
Air Spray L188A Electra C-GOIZ - former N343HA in Zantop colors
Air Spray L188A Electra C-GZYH - former HR-AMM stored since 2002
Air Spray L188A Electra C-FVFI - stored since 2003 - swapped tail section with C-FLXT
Air Spray L188A Electra C-GYVI #83 - stored since 2012 when wing corrosion found
Air Spray L188A Electra C-GNPB - former Honduran Air Force 555FAH stored since 2011
Mikey McBryan indicated in the YouTube video that three former Air Spray A-26's remain at Red Deer
While he mentioned that they had been bought by a West Jet pilot, they are still registered to Air Spray
I was only able confirm from the video that A-26B's C-GHZM #58 "Fire Eaters" and C-FKBM #20 were present
During my September 2014 visit to Red Deer, A-26's C-FZTC #13 and C-FPGF #1 were also present
These aircraft are also currently registered to Air Spray
Please email me if you can confirm whether one or both of these aircraft are still at Red Deer
Mikey also said in an earlier episode of Plane Savers that there were four CL-215's stored at Red Deer.
On April 22nd I asked if anyone knew what the latest status of C-46F C-GIBX, which has been stored in Gimli, Manitoba for the past ten years. I recently received word that the wings had been pulled for the corrosion inspection and there is a possibility of it operating for a mining firm under TransNorthern Aviation’s AOC. Hopefully this comes to fruition and this vintage Propliner gets back to earning money for its owner.
Buffalo DC-3 Lost After Engine Failure – May 4, 2019
Buffalo Airways DC-3 C-FJKM made an off-airport landing on May 3, 2019 after experiencing an engine failure while enroute from Hay River to Yellowknife. The aircraft departed Hay River on a scheduled flight at about 8am and was 20 minutes into the 55 minute flight when the #2 engine failed. The pilots attempted to return to Hay River but were forced to set the airplane down about 5 miles from the airport. The Aviation Safety Network posted a preliminary report on the incident. I will post additional information as it becomes available.
Does Anyone Know the Current Status of Gimli C-46F? – April 22, 2019
Does anyone have the latest status on former First Nations Transportation C-46F C-GIBX, which has been stored in Gimli, Manitoba since the airline ceased operations in 2009? A few years back I heard that Buffalo Airways wasn't interested in the airplane but haven't heard anything since. The aircraft looked to be in good condition when John Olafson photographed her in September 2016. I'd appreciate an email if anyone has the aircraft's latest status. Hopefully she won't be allowed to rot in place. (Update: The aircraft was photographed at Gimli on August 30, 2018 and appeared to be in good condition.)
Red Deer Regional Airport Propliner Treasure Trove – April 18, 2019
Red Deer Regional Airport in Alberta, Canada is located about eighty miles north of Calgary and is home to a large collection of vintage Propliners, both active and stored. Air Spray’s headquarters and maintenance base are located at the airport as well as Buffalo Airways’ maintenance base. Both airlines store aircraft on the field and this news piece will focus on those aircraft. While I have visited the airport three times in the past 15 years, this report is based on airfield tour by Joe and Mikey McBryan on YouTube Plane Savers Episodes #77 and #78. While the list isn’t meant to be all-inclusive, it gives you a good idea what’s stored at the airport.
Desert Air Alaska Changes Ownership – March 1, 2019 (April 4, 2019 Update)
Joey Benetka recently announced that he had purchased Desert Air Alaska from longtime operator Dennis Gladwin. Desert Air is based at Anchorage International Airport and the airline owns two DC-3s and a T-29B/CV240. While the two DC-3s have been very active during my Alaska visits, I've never seen the Convair in action. When I was in Anchorage four years ago, the Convair was in excellent condition and I was told that it could be made airworthy quickly if demand warranted. The company’s website states “We fly freight to over 200 locations in Alaska. We can get your cargo to where it needs to be. Desert Air Alaska is a charter freight service offering large haul capacity to rural runways and remote sites. Smooth, direct and reliable - we have a host of services like HAZMAT and oversize freight accommodation with no extra handling fees.” For more information about Desert Air, check out the company website. I wish Joey luck and hope to meet him when I visit Alaska in May.
Joey announced on March 21st that the Convair and associated spare parts were for sale. This is not unexpected since I don't believe it has flown much, if any, in the past years.
Buffalo DC-3 Put Out to Pasture – February 26, 2019
Joe Mooney recently reported on Facebook that Mikey McBryan told him that Buffalo Airways DC-3 C-GWIR had been moved to his Uncle Ronnie McBryan’s farm for storage. This aircraft was severely damaged on August 19, 2013 after the #2 engine caught fire shortly after takeoff from Yellowknife Airport with 21 passengers onboard. The engine was shut down and during the ensuing emergency landing the aircraft struck a stand of trees before making a gear-up landing in a field short of runway 10. There was no post-impact fire and none of the passengers or three crew members were injured. When I visited Buffalo a year later the aircraft was stored in the corner of the Yellowknife hangar. Recent video from Mikey McBryan’s Plane Savers YouTube videos showed no sign of the aircraft in the hangar so I thank Joe for solving the mystery of the whereabouts of the C-GWIR.
Alaska Loses an Aviation Icon – February 10, 2019
Everts family patriarch Cliff Everts passed away on December 7, 2017 at age 95 in his Fairbanks, Alaska home. Born on July 27, 1922 in Yonkers, New York, Cliff learned how to fly at Reynolds Field in Valhalla, New York, where he soloed in 1938 at the age of 16. He moved to Alaska in 1943 to fly Ford and Stinson tri-motor aircraft for Alaska Star Airlines, where he worked for 18 months before joining
Wein Alaskan Airways in February 1945. He began his career at Wein flying Boeing 247 and Lockheed Lodestar aircraft and retired 35 years later flying Fokker F-27’s. After retirement from Wein, he founded Everts Air Fuel, which received its Part 125 operating certificate on February 1, 1983.
I had the pleasure of spending some time with Cliff during a visit to Everts’ Fairbanks headquarters in August 2009. At the time he was 87 years old and still checked in at Everts headquarters on most days. His wife Betty was also still very much involved in the company as she was her son Rob’s secretary! Cliff gave me a tour of his office, which was full of mementos from his 66 year aviation career, including the original framed Everts Air Fuel Part 125 certificate. During his flying career, Cliff amassed 30,000 flying hours and was inducted into the Alaska Aviation Hall of Fame in 2013.
Cliff was survived by his wife Betty, five daughters and son Rob, who followed him into the family business. The Everts family has been very accommodating to the enthusiast community over the years, offering tours of its Fairbanks headquarters, the Anchorage freight terminal and the Kenai fuel operation. While there has been a slow evolution to jet equipment in the form of DC-9 and MD-83 freighters, Everts is still the largest operator of piston engine aircraft in the world with a fair amount of the company’s freight and all of the fuel still carried in vintage DC-6/C-118 and C-46 aircraft. While it’s obviously now a bit dated, more information about this fascinating company can be found in my February 2010 Air Classics article.
Everts Boneyard Reorganization – February 10, 2019
With Everts continuing to buy DC-6 and C-118 aircraft, the company’s storage yard in Fairbanks had reached capacity with overflow aircraft being parked outside its north hangar. In an effort to alleviate the problem, Everts began cutting the outer wings and tails off DC-6/C-118 aircraft and, by the winter of 2017, had arranged seven aircraft along the fence line making for a very nice photo op for passing motorists and aviation enthusiasts.
The lineup consists of six former Northern Air Cargo aircraft, which had been sold to Everts in 2009 after the airline went all jet in October 2008, and a single former Conifair DC-6A. Stripped of their useful components, the aircraft silently wait for the scrapman to claim them.
Former Universal Airlines DC-6A Ferried to Fairbanks – February 10, 2019
When Everts acquired former Universal Airlines DC-6A N170UA and C-118A N500UA in October 2015, the later aircraft was made airworthy in short order and ferried from Kenai to Everts’ maintenance base in Fairbanks for storage. While N500UA had flown as recently as the summer of 2011, N170UA hadn’t flown for many years and took quite a bit longer to get ready for the relatively short ferry flight to Fairbanks. The DC-6A was parked on the Everts Air Fuel ramp in Kenai for a number of years before finally being ferried to Fairbanks, where it was noted in June 2018. I’m guessing it will be used as a parts airplane and has already shed at least two propellers.
Everts Converts Former Conair DC-6A to Fuel Tanker – February 10, 2019
Everts acquired three retired Conair DC-6 type aircraft in November 2013 and ferried them from Abbotsford to the company’s maintenance base in Fairbanks. Former C-GHLY/#46 was registered N501ZS and was the last of the trio to be ferried to Fairbanks, where it arrived on August 10, 2014. Engines had already been removed from one of the trio when I visited Fairbanks in May 2015 so I surmised that it wouldn’t be long before all three were stripped of their valuable parts. I was pleasantly surprised when I received a report saying that the airplane was being converted to a fuel tanker and would be going into service with Everts Air Fuel. A June 2018 photo of the aircraft shows it in basic Conair colors with “EAF” titles on the tail. This hybrid color scheme is a first for an Everts airplane.
Everts C-46 Damaged at Manley Hot Springs – February 10, 2019
While on a routine flight from Fairbanks to Kenai on July 16, 2018 Everts Air Fuel C-46F N1822M “Salmon Ella” experienced a problem with its #2 engine. Following a precautionary engine shutdown, the aircraft diverted to Manley Hot Springs Airport where a downwind landing was executed. The pilot reported that the aircraft touched down a “little fast” and, with fading brakes from hard braking, it was unable to stop and overran the runway. The nose was heavily damaging but luckily neither pilot was injured.
A week later, with the outer wings and tail removed, the aircraft was transported by road to the Tanana River and barged to Fairbanks. The aircraft will receive a new nose section and returned to service.
Former Everts C-46F N23AC on Display at Israeli Museum – February 10, 2019
Former Everts C-46F N23AC arrived by ship at the Port of Haifa in Israel on February 21, 2017. The aircraft had been stored for many years at the Everts Fairbanks boneyard and, after arriving in Israel, it was transported by road to the Atlift Detention Camp Museum.
C-46’s were used in 1947 during the illegal “aliya” that brought thousands of Iraqi Jewish refugees to what was then the British Mandate for Palestine. Jewish refugees seeking to immigrate were detained by the British at the Atlift Detention Camp during this period. The aircraft will serve as an interactive exhibit to educate the Israeli people about this clandestine operation.
Former Everts DC-6A Hoisted onto Pylons – February 10, 2019
After being retired by Everts Air Cargo, DC-6A N6174C “Good Grief” was flown to the small airport at Chena Hot Springs by Rob Everts for conversion to a restaurant. The aircraft’s arrival on October 2, 2016 was quite dramatic, with not much room to spare. In early August 2018 the aircraft was lifted onto what looks like twenty foot pilings, where it will be permanently mounted. I plan on visiting Alaska in May 2019 and Chena Hots Springs Airport is definitely on my list of places to visit.
Buffalo Airways to Restore near-Derelict DC-3 – February 10, 2019
Bernoit de Mulder acquired D-Day veteran DC-3 C-FDTD in April 2017 with the intent of restoring it. The vintage airplane had been parked at Saint-Hubert Longueuil Airport near Montreal since the early 1990’s and was in danger of being scrapped. Despite his efforts and the efforts of many volunteers, Bernoit was unable to garner the resources necessary to resurrect the DC-3 and two weeks before Christmas 2018 he placed an ad on eBay. Three days later he received a call from Mikey and Joe McBryan of Buffalo Airways fame saying they were interested in the aircraft. A short time later a purchase deal was finalized.
Recognizing the historical significance of the aircraft, the McBryan’s are determined to have it flying by June 6, 2019, which is the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Considering the condition of the aircraft and its location, this is a very ambitious undertaking but who, with decades of DC-3 experience, would be better suited to pull it off than the McBryan family.
Not wasting any time, Mikey headed to Buffalo’s maintenance base in Red Deer, Alberta on December 31st to meet with his uncle Ronnie McBryan and have a look at the two parts donor aircraft, C-FDTB and C-FDTH. Like C-FDTD, both are former Transport Canada aircraft with C-FDTB’s engine firewall and wiring harness configuration identical to the Saint-Hubert DC-3. It’s interesting to note that C-FDTB has a full 1940/50s era 3-across passenger interior from its days with Trans-Canada Air Lines. It has been sold to Basler for their turboprop conversion program and all of this history will be stripped out during the conversion. C-FDTH was damaged during a windstorm and, at this point, is best suited to being a parts donor.
Mikey and Ronnie airlined to Montreal and got their first look at C-FDTD on January 3rd. Their plan is to take inventory on exactly what is required for the restoration, gather the parts and pieces in Red Deer and then transport them to Saint-Hubert, where the restoration will take place. This would be an extremely ambitious project under the best of circumstances and I wish them luck.
You can check out the latest project status on Mikey McBryan’s Plane Savers YouTube videos and the Plane Savers website.
C-46 C-GTPO Enters Service with Buffalo Airways – February 10, 2019
C-46F C-GTPO entered service with Buffalo Airways on January 16, 2018 after receiving an extensive overhaul at Buffalo’s hangar in Yellowknife, NWT. C-GTPO replaced C-46A C-GTXW, which had been written off after a September 2015 landing accident in Déline, NWT. Fortunately the crew emerged unscathed but Buffalo desperately needed to replace this workhorse aircraft. C-GTPO had a previous history with Buffalo, having flown for the airline between 1993 and 2004, before being sold to First Nations Transportation (FNT). Abandoned at Gimli after the 2009 demise of FNT, the aircraft was made airworthy by a Buffalo crew and ferried to Yellowknife in November 2010.
After returning to Yellowknife, the engines were removed from C-FTPO and it was parked behind Buffalo’s hangar to await its return to service. It would be almost five years before the C-46 was towed into the hangar in September 2015 to begin what would be a lengthy resurrection. During the next three years the aircraft received an extensive overhaul including new engines, a cockpit makeover and a modified paint scheme, which featured a bright orange tail. Having operated C-46’s for years, Buffalo had an extensive collection of parts to draw on and the aircraft was ready to be rolled out of the hangar in late December 2017. Between December 28, 2017 and January 7, 2018 engine runs and test flights were conducted paving the way for the aircraft’s first revenue flight on January 16th.
It’s an amazing testament to the durability and versatility of these 75 year old relics that they continue to be the aircraft of choice for far-north operations by both Everts in Alaska and Buffalo Airways in northwest Canada. I guess as long as they continue to make money for their owners, they will remain plying the skies long after their modern replacements have been retired and reduced to beer cans.
Red Deer PV-1 Ventura – February 10, 2019
John Olafson was visiting Red Deer Airport in September 2018 when he noted what appeared to be an unidentified PV-1 or PV-2 fuselage stored outside the Buffalo Airways hangar. The registration had been rubbed out and there was no one in the hangar to ask so for the time being the identity of the aircraft remained a mystery. With help from Tony Merton Jones, I was able to identify the aircraft as PV-1 Ventura CF-FAV owned by the Ventura Memorial Flight Association. The aircraft was delivered to the U.S. Navy as BuNo 33315 and went to the RCAF as 2195. It acquired its civilian registration in January 1952 and crashed 65 miles northwest of Yellowknife, NWT on August 14, 1953. Recovered from the crash site crash site by members of the association in June 1988, the aircraft was slowly being restored at the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton, Alberta. The museum needed the space and the aircraft was moved to Red Deer, Alberta in January 2018.
----Created 10 February 2019------Updated 5 May 2019----