Tim and Matt Chopp traveled back to Connersville, Indiana to finish up some final items on Spirit of Freedom's engine swap. Tim told me that the "new" #1 engine was running very smooth and a short test flight was performed the afternoon of Friday July 29th before the aircraft departed the next morning for the Dayton InternationalAir Show.
Remaining 2022 C-54D Spirit of Freedom Schedule
July 30-31 Dayton, OH Dayton International Airshow
August 20-21 Waynesburg, PA Greene County Aviation Days
September 10 Hagerstown, MD Wings and Wheels
September 17-18 Lancaster, PA Community Days Celebration of Flight
September 24 Madison, IN 21st Annual Madison Air Show
September 28-October 1 Dayton, OH Berlin Airlift Veterans Association Reunion. Static Display at Greene County Airport Xenia, OH
October 29 Fredericksburg, VA 8th Annual Harvest Festival and Fly-In at Shannon Airport
November 5 Elizabeth City, NC Airport 50th Anniversary Candy Drop
November 12-13 Monroe, NC Warbirds over Monroe
December 17-18 Manteo/Kitty Hawk, NC Annual Candy Drop, Wright Brothers Commemoration
BAHF C-54D Update – July 12, 2022
A team consisting of BAHF members Tim Chopp, Matt Chopp and Kevin Kearney traveled to Connersville, Indiana on July 10th to replace the #1 engine on N500EJ. After towing the aircraft off the grass and back onto the hardstand, they went to work with the failed engine ready for removal by the end of the day on the 11th. The plan is to have the engine removed today and the replacement ready for installation. If all goes to plan, the airplane should be ready to fly home by the end of the week.
The Ultimate Irony – July 11, 2022
Marc Hookerman took what might be the most ironic photo of 2022 when he photographed the takeoff of DC-6A N9056R at Fairbanks, Alaska in April. While the 1958 vintage DC-6A continues to fly on a regular basis, three examples of its so-called “replacement” sit idle on the Everts ramp, with at least two being engineless. The DC-9 was introduced some years back by Everts Air Cargo as a replacement for the DC-6/C-118 but it, in turn, has been replaced by MD-80’s with only one remaining in service. Thanks Marc for sharing this amazing photo...it puts a smile on my face!
BAHF C-54D Update – July 3, 2022
As reported on June 14, 2022, Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation C-54D N500EJ Spirit of Freedom suffered an engine failure on June 13, 2022 while returning to Pennsylvania from a weekend airshow appearance in St. Louis. A team of four BAHF members recently traveled to Walterboro, South Carolina and removed two QEC/engines from the group’s C-54E that was severely damaged by a tornado back in April 2020. One engine was brought back to New Jersey to be held as a spare, while members will travel to Connersville, Indiana on July 10th with the other engine for installation on N500EJ.
Buffalo Airways Red Deer Update – June 21, 2022
John Olafson visited Red Deer Regional Airport on June 1, 2022 and provided the following update to Mike Goberg’s March 21, 2022 report. "I was at Red Deer on June 1st and there was not much to see. The three former Conair Convairs were there and they had G-GYXC in the hangar and it was likely being stripped of anything of value. I could see nothing on the Air Spray ramp and the only thing of interest of Buffalo was DC-4 C-GBNV and it appears to be complete. Maybe its going to be doing some spraying. And C-FDTD was still there but in full view through the fence. Once again, no airside access."
C-54 Suffers Engine Failure – June 14, 2022
The Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation’s C-54D N500EJ Spirit of Freedom suffered an engine failure on June 13, 2022 while returning to Pennsylvania from a weekend airshow appearance in St. Louis. The #1 engine was immediately shut down and an emergency declared by the pilots. The aircraft landed safely at Mettle Field Airport in Connersville, Indiana without any further damage to the aircraft or injury to the three crewmembers.
Here’s a statement issued by Fayette County EMS. "At approximately 12:43 Fayette County Communications/911 Center received a call from Indianapolis air traffic control advising them of an aircraft that had declared an emergency due to the loss of an engine that was on approach to Connersville Airport. At that time the size of aircraft was unknown.”
"All Fayette County EMS and Connersville FD assets were dispatched to the airport. Connersville Police Department also responded officers to that location. It was determined that the emergency aircraft was a DC-4 vintage WWII aircraft. Upon arrival of emergency units the aircraft was landing at Connersville. "
"The aircraft landed safely with no damage or injuries. After everything was settled and the situation was dealt with the flight crew of 3 gave all emergency personnel a tour and answered questions. The aircraft is a flying museum that showcases the Berlin Airlift that occurred after WWII. "
At this point, it appears that the engine issue was caused by the failure of its main bearing. Unfortunately this means that the engine is toast and will need to be replaced. Fortunately, the organization has four spare engines installed on the previous Spirit of Freedom, which is parked at Walterboro, South Carolina after being severely damaged by a tornado in April 2020.
Forgotten Alaskan DC-4 Hulk – June 8, 2022
When Dietmar Schreiber travels to Alaska, interesting photos are sure to follow. On Dietmar’s current trip, he and a group including András Mihalik, flew to Ganes Creek on June 7th to photograph former Brooks Air Fuel DC-4 N44911. The aircraft was abandoned after a May 8, 2004 incident where the left wing caught fire during engine start for the return flight to Fairbanks. While starting the #1 engine, there was an explosion on the wing between the #1 and #2 engines resulting in the outboard section of the wing separating from the aircraft. The crew taxied away from the burning wing section and, while the aircraft didn’t burn, damage to the wing was extensive and deemed unrepairable. After the engines and other valuable components were removed, the hapless DC-4 was abandoned and left to rot in place. I’m somewhat amazed that the state didn’t require the removal of the remaining hulk. Perhaps this wasn’t required in 2004. Many thanks to Dietmar and András for sharing their amazing photos. For more information about the incident at Ganes Creek, check out the Aviation Safety Network report regarding the incident.
For contrast, check out Fred Barnes' September 1994 photo taken at Chandler Memorial Airport when the aircraft was operated by Biegert Aviation and appeared to be in excellent condition.
Remembering the Candy Bomber - May 27, 2022
I had the privilege of flying from Atlanta, Georgia to Spanish Fork, Utah in the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundations’s C-54D "Spirit of Freedom" to attend events on May 20th and May 21nd honoring the late Gail S. Halvorsen, aka “The Candy Bomber.” I will be posting additional information and photos about the event but this will take a few days so I’d like to post a newscast of our arrival in Spanish Fork on May 18th and another video documenting the candy drop event held on May 21st. The USAF was a major participant in the event, with AMC Commander General Minihan in attendance along with a C-17 that had been flown to Utah from Charleston AFB in South Carolina. It was a great event honoring a great man and I’m proud to have been part of it.
Alaskan "Baby DC-6" News – May 26, 2022
I recently received an email from a gentleman in Alaska saying that he had acquired DC-6 N666SQ and he was planning to convert it into his primary residence. This aircraft was acquired by Everts in 1994 but was not suitable for their needs due to it being a "Baby DC-6' and not a larger DC-6A, DC-6B or C-118. Marty Hall tried to find a home for it at a museum but none were interested and in 2009 N666SQ was donated to the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club. It was disassembled and moved to a location on Bennett Road near Fairbanks in July 2009, where I photographed it in 2011. After a few years at this location, it was moved to a new location in North Pole, Alaska where it sits today. The lot was obviously cleared to accommodate the aircraft but during my May 2019 visit it appeared, for all intents and purposes, to be abandoned with the wings and other pieces haphazardly lying on the ground.
Here’s the text of the email I received. "Hello I hope this email finds you doing well. I have been doing research and came across your website. The reason I am contacting you is I wanted to inform that I am the proud new owner of the baby DC-6 N666SQ and the property it sits on. I will be working this summer to reposition my new baby and converting it into my permanent residence. This is my first venture into this type of thing so I will be up for any suggestions on reattaching the wings, tail etc. I would love to talk to you and find out more history on the plane. If you could please let the community know that it has been rescued and is in great hands. Once the project is finished I would still love for people to come and check it out." This is indeed good news and I wish the new owner good luck in his endeavor.
Two Alaskan DC-6B's....One Reg – May 7, 2022
Fred Barnes recently sent me a report and photos of two DC-6B's that Everts once operated. It's interesting to note that both were registered N151. "It was such good news to hear that the former Everts Air Cargo DC-6B(F) N151 c/n 45496 had arrived in Stavanger, Norway on 2nd June 2020 painted in full Braathens SAFE colors as LN-SUB to be preserved in the Flyhistorisk Museum. I can remember seeing the aircraft as LN-SUB at Gatwick in the 1960s and again in Anchorage 2008 as N151."
"There was another DC-6B(F) c/n 45174 which was also operated by Everts Air Fuel. That aircraft was originally purchased by Western Air Lines and was delivered on 24th April 1957 with registration N93119 and was subsequently leased to Alaska Airlines on 9th June 1961. On 31st July 1963 c/n 45174 was sold to the FAA and was re-registered N115 and after service with that organization N115 was stored at Oklahoma City in November 1971. On 20th July 1972 c/n 45174 was purchased by the Mayjo Company and was re-registered as N151 and was converted to DC-6B(F) freighter standard with a cargo door installed. Air Freighters International purchased N151 in January 1973 and then Pacific Alaska Airlines purchased the aircraft in August 1975. In Pacific Alaska Airlines service N151 was named ‘Silver Streak.’ Everts Air Fuel purchased N151 in July 1983 and used the aircraft for fuel hauling and retained the named ‘Silver Streak’ when the company’s titles were painted on the upper fuselage. I saw N151 in Fairbanks on 3rd May 1986 and again at Kenai on 7th June 1988. N151 was damaged beyond repair on 3rd March 1992 in an accident on an icy runway at Selawick, Alaska."
Many thanks to Fred for sharing this interesting historical tidbit and his photos.
Everts Propliner Fleet Status – May 4, 2022
A friend recently asked me about the status of the Everts Air Fuel and Everts Air Cargo Propliner fleet. I had earlier heard that many of the cargo flights had been replaced with MD80 equipment and, using a list of airworthy Propliners from my May 2019 trip to Alaska, I checked the status of each aircraft using FlightAware. The advent of ADSB has made the tracking of such flights easier since both IFR and VFR flights are recorded and noted on the website. While it’s not great news, the following summary indicates that Everts continues to utilize Propliners for both cargo and fuel operations.
Everts Air Cargo
C-118A – N100CE – former H&P N51599 – last recorded flight 11 March 2022
DC-6B – N151 – to museum in Stavanger, Norway in June 2020
C-118A – N351CE – last recorded flight on 6 May 2015
C-118B – N451CE – former Everts Air Fuel – non-standard markings – WFU after 1 August 2019 landing accident
C-118A – N747CE – former H&P N233HP and Everts Air Fuel – currently in use out of ANC
DC-6A – N9056R – currently in use out of FAI
C-46D – N54514 EAC “Maid in Japan” – currently in use out of FAI
Everts Air Fuel
C-118A – N251CE – last recorded flight on 25 February 2022
DC-6B – N444CE – “Spirit of America” – currently in use out of FAI
DC-6B – N6586C – Everts Air Fuel – former Everts Air Cargo – last recorded flight 11 December 2021
DC-6A – N651CE – former Conair C-GHLY #46 – prior Everts registration N501ZS – currently in use out of FAI and ENA
DC-6A – N7780B – “Aviator” – last recorded flight on 4 March 2022
C-46R – N7848B “Dumbo” – currently in use out of ENA
C-46F – N1837M “Hot Stuff” – currently in use out of ENA and FAI
C-46F – N1822M EAF “Salmon Ella” – nose section replaced after landing accident on 16 July 2018 – last recorded flight 18 June 2020 (Everett, WA?)
DC-4 Departs Florida for Utah Museum – May 1, 2022
Buffalo Airways DC-4 N55CW departed Keystone Heights Airport in Florida on April 27, 2022 for the Western Sky Aviation Warbird Museum in St. George, Utah, where it will go on static display. Departing shortly after 12:00 noon, the aircraft arrived five hours later in Fredericksburg, Texas for an overnight stop. In what will probably be the aircraft’s final flight, it departed Fredericksburg late the next afternoon and arrived at St. George Regional Airport four hours later. The veteran flight crew consisted of pilot Bob Steenbock, co-pilot Mike Stallman and flight mechanic Frank Moss. A great choice of crew in that their combined Propliner experience probably exceeds 100 years!
The DC-4 had been parked at Keystone Heights Airport since late 2013/early 2014, when it arrived from Buffalo’s maintenance base in Red Deer, Alberta. Buffalo Airways, MHD-Rockland and Lockheed Electra specialist Mercair had entered into a joint venture to restore four former Zantop Electras and planned on the using the DC-4 for their Part 137 certification program. The aircraft had a sprayer system installed in 1981 by Conifair Aviation and would be perfect for the certification program. The joint venture came apart and the Electras, which had all been restored and flown to Keystone Heights from Ypsilanti, Michigan, were parked along with the DC-4.
The aircraft's departure was delayed for more than two years by the COVID pandemic. Ronnie McBryan arrived in Keystone Heights in January 2020 and expected to have the aircraft airworthy by mid-March. He returned to Canada in late February 2020 with plans to complete the restoration but this never happened due to the border between Canada and the U.S. being closed due to the pandemic. After a two year absence, Ronnie returned in mid-February 2022 and had the airplane airworthy by early April when he had to return to Red Deer to get two CL-215’s ready for a fire fighting contract in Quebec this summer.
Getting Bob, Mike and Frank’s schedule to mesh and the weather to cooperate for the two day flight held things up a bit more but by late April all three crewmembers were available and, with a favorable weather forecast in hand, an April 27th departure was planned. The crew spent the 26th checking out the airplane and, with the aircraft looking to be in good condition, the flight was on for the next day. The crew arrived early the next morning and, after taking on 1680 gallons of 100LL avgas, the DC-4 taxied to the end of Keystone Heights’ 5,046 foot runway 23 and departed at 12:15pm. A small crowd of well-wishers had gathered for the occasion and were delighted to see the old girl take to the air.
It’s a bit sad that the aircraft has probably flown its final flight but it narrowly escaped scrapping at Keystone Heights. The fact that it was saved is a testament to Joe McBryan’s love of these old aircraft. The prudent business decision probably would have been to scrap the aircraft and sell the engines and other valuable spare parts but Joe decided to save the aircraft and spend the money to make it airworthy for it's final flight, hire three pilots to make the flight and spend a small fortune in avgas. My hat’s off to you Mr. McBryan!
A bit of history on the airplane…It was delivered to the U.S. Navy in April 1945 as BuNo 56506 and had a 35-year military career before being retired to Davis Monthan AFB in November 1970. It's interesting to note that, after all these years, the remnants of the marking "506" is still visible on the left front nose of the aircraft. It was sold to Conifair Aviation as C-GBPA in April 1981 and converted to a bud worm sprayer. Withdrawn from use by Conifair in 1996, it was sold to Buffalo Airways in May 2002. I saw it stored at Yellowknife, NWT in September 2005 with a number of engines and/or props missing. Resurrected in late 2010, it was re-registered N55CW and arrived in Punta Gorda, Florida in June 2011 for a standby oil dispersant contract. With the contract completed, it was flown back to Red Deer in April 2013 before flying back to Keystone Heights less than a year later in late 2013/early 2014.
While all of us would have preferred to see the aircraft continue to fly, having it saved and put on display in a museum is not a bad ending to this story.
BAHF Deland Candy Drop Event – May 1, 2022
It’s not often these days that one can witness two DC-4/C-54’s in flight during a one week period. I had recently that pleasure when I attended a candy drop event featuring Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation’s C-54D N500EJ at Deland Municipal Airport, Florida on Saturday April 23rd followed by the departure of Buffalo Airways DC-4 N55CW on April 27th from Keystone Heights Airport, Florida. The candy drop event was sponsored by the Deland chapter of the Commemorative Air Force and about 75 kids attended the event.
N500EJ was flown from its current home base in Walterboro, South Carolina to nearby New Smyrna Beach Airport on Thursday afternoon. Tim Chopp and his crew had a busy Friday prepping the airplane for Saturday’s event and also hosting a group of aviation minded ladies from nearby Spruce Creek Fly-in Airpark. About 50 ladies toured the airplane on Friday afternoon. The next morning at 8:30am the aircraft departed New Smyrna Beach for a short ten minute flight to Deland Municipal Airport. It was a gorgeous morning and the aircraft looked stunning in her new paint as she taxied to the ramp adjacent to the CAF hangar.
The event began in the hangar at 10:00am with an overview of the Berlin Airlift followed by short presentations from Tim and each of the four crewmembers. A surprise visitor was a woman who had grown up in Berlin during the 1960’s/1970’s when it was divided along with her mother, who was a child during the Berlin Airlift. They each talked briefly about their experience living in Berlin during this period and the hardships they encountered during everyday life. By 10:30am it was time for the candy drop, which was followed by tours of the airplane for the kids and their parents. I also toured the aircraft and was amazed how much work had been performed on the aircraft’s interior since my October 2021 flight with display cases being installed and murals painted on the ceiling and bulkheads.
After the last visitor was gone, the aircraft was fueled for its flight back to Walterboro and it departed at 4:30pm for the two hour flight north. While the aircraft hadn’t flown during the candy drop, the event was appreciated by all participants.
Everts Adds New Fuel Hauler – April 30, 2022
Marc Hookerman photographed Everts Air Fuel’s newest fuel hauler in Kenai, Alaska on April 27, 2022. DC-6A N651CE is former Conair firebomber C-GHLY #46 and looks great in partial Conair colors with Everts titles. I photographed this aircraft at Fairbanks Intl Airport in May 2019 when it was undergoing conversion at the Everts North Hangar and at Abbotsford, BC in September 2005 in full Conair colors. According to FAA records, the airworthiness date is December 16, 2021 so it’s safe to assume that N651CE is a relatively recent addition to the Everts fleet. Many thanks to Marc for sharing his photo.
Good News Regarding Georgia DC-4 – April 26, 2022
In October 2021 Wyatt Williams forwarded a photo of DC-4 N708Z that appeared to show it rotting away in Douglas, Georgia. The aircraft was sold as scrap a few years ago and the new owner claimed that he planned on making the aircraft airworthy. Nothing had happened in the ensuing years but Wyatt reports that the aircraft has been moved adjacent to the hangar where B-17 Liberty Belle is being restored (see photo). Wyatt reports that some of the control surfaces have been removed to presumably be recovered and apparently the new owner still plans on making the aircraft airworthy once the necessary repairs have been completed. This sounds too good to be true but hopefully it happens.
Keystone DC-4 Flight Prep Nearing Completion – March 19, 2022
As reported on March 2, 2022, Buffalo Airways DC-4 N55CW is being made ready for its first flight in quite a number of years at Keystone Airpark in Florida. In the March 2nd report, I assumed that it would be flown back to Canada but it turns out that it is being flown to St. George, Utah, where it will go on static display in a museum. While I haven’t confirmed it, I’m assuming that museum is the Western Sky Aviation Warbird Museum, which is located at the St. George Regional Airport.
I visited Keystone Airpark on March 17th and spoke to Ronnie McBryan, who was working on the aircraft. Well known for his long road trips, Ronnie departed Red Deer, Alberta on February 14th in his pickup truck and camper for the 5-day/2,700 mile journey to Keystone Heights, Florida. By driving his truck, Ronnie was able to bring along an APU, special equipment and tools that have proved very useful in waking up the veteran Douglas airplane. Keystone Airpark is home to MHD-Rockland Services’ five P-3C aircraft and the DC-4 was sharing ramp space with the P-3's. With four former Zantop Electras also stored at the airport, it is definitely a target rich environment for Propliner enthusiasts! An added bonus, was that MHD-Rockland was conducting flight ops and I was able to witness the takeoff of one of their P-3C’s…not every day that one gets to see that!
Ronnie told me that most of the major items have been completed, including test runs on all four engines. He is now working on a multitude of time consuming minor items that need to be addressed prior to the flight. While working alone most of the day, he gets help from fellow Canadian Trent Foster after he finishes his shift at nearby MHD-Rockland. Trent worked 20+ years at Air Spray in Red Deer and thus has extensive experience working on both piston and turboprop aircraft and thus has been a great help. Ronnie planned to install the engine cowlings the day of my visit and hoped to have the airplane ready for its flight to Utah in a week to ten days. The DC-4 will be flown to St. George by a three-man crew with the flight taking a day if all goes well. Sadly, it could very well be the aircraft’s last flight as it will go on static display at the museum and not kept airworthy. Not a great ending but a lot better than being stripped of her engines and other useful parts and scrapped . Ronnie told me that Buffalo will be basing two of their CL-215 water scoopers in Quebec this summer and that he will spend the summer there supporting the aircraft.
Keystone Airpark DC-4 & Electra Update – March 2, 2022
Ronnie McBryan is back in Florida working on getting DC-4 N55CW ready for a flight presumably back to Canada. As of yesterday, it was reported that three of the four engines are running so the flight can’t be too far off in the future. The aircraft was just about ready to depart for Canada back in February 2020 when Ronnie had a medical emergency and had to return to Canada. The COVID pandemic descended on the world shortly thereafter resulting in the two year delay. Now that the US-Canada border is finally back open, Ronnie was able to return to Florida to finish the job he started two years ago.
Not such good news regarding the four former Zantop Electras (N282F, N286F, N340HA and N346HA) that were flown to Keystone Airpark from Willow Run Airport by MHD-Rockland a few years ago with the plan to convert them to air tankers. The plan was abandoned and they have been stored at various locations around the field since then. They’re parked in a field surrounded by trees and haven’t been moved since my October 2020 visit. On a positive note, it appears that they’ve been cleaned up with the black mold removed from the fuselages.
For additional information about these aircraft, check out the October 18, 2020 report on this website. Many thanks to Tony Dann for allowing the use of his recent photos.
Alaskan DC-4 Rear Fuselage Swap – March 1, 2022
As reported on October 15, 2020, Alaska Air Fuel (AAF) DC-4 N96358 severely damaged when it overran the runway at Yakataga Airport, Alaska on Saturday October 10, 2020. AAF’s second DC-4 N3054V had been stored with a damaged rear fuselage at Wasilla Airport for a number of years and was repaired and re-entered service with AAF in late 2020 or early 2021. It had been reported that the rear fuselage from former Central Air Services DC-4 N6816D had been removed and shipped from Tucson, Arizona to facilitate the repair. Glenn Palmer’s February 2022 photo of the former rear fuselage from N3054V sitting in the weeks at Wasilla pretty much confirms that the transplant was made.
Everts Air Featured in Airways Magazine – February 10, 2022
Fed Ex pilot Patrick W. Smith wrote an interesting article in a recent issue of Airways Magazine about a roundtrip flight he took on Everts Air Cargo DC-6A N9056R from Anchorage to Togiak, Alaska. Trips like this used to be common during pre-9/11 days but now they are restricted to those with airline crew credentials. Lucky guy!
BAHF Announces "Halvorsen Airlift 2022" – January 16, 2022
The Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation recently announced the "Halvorsen Airlift 2022" initiative to honor "Candy Bomber" Gail S. Halvorsen. Halvorsen is 101 and wasn’t able to attend the annual December Candy Drop event, which was held at Dare County Airport on Sunday December 19, 2021. Since Halvorsen wasn’t able to attend the event, the folks at BAHF decided to take a Candy Drop event to Spanish Fork, Utah where he lives. Festivities are scheduled on a multi-day visit to the Spanish Fork Airport with the Candy Drop scheduled to take place on Sunday May 21, 2022. For more information about the event check out pages 6 and 7 of the current BAHF Newsletter. A FLYER has also been prepared announcing the event and soliciting donations to cover the expense associated with the trip. This is a very worthwhile undertaking to honor a true patriot, so please consider donating to the project.
BAHF C-54 Returns to Dare County Airport for Candy Drop Event – December 23, 2021
Despite the rain and windy conditions, the annual Candy Drop event was held at Dare County Airport on Sunday December 19, 2021. It was 22nd time the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation (BAHF) C-54 Spirit of Freedom has participated in the event but unfortunately, due to weather, it was not able to deliver candy by air. Gail Halvorsen, who was dubbed the "Candy Bomber" by the children of Berlin during the Berlin Airlift, is 101 years old and unfortunately was not able to attend the event this year. BAHF Tim Chopp reported on the event "I'm happy to report the mission was a big success despite the fact the Candy Drop could not be held because of the weather. We did, however, hold the candy drop indoors by having Gail Halvorsen's son Michael drop the candy parachutes from the 2nd floor walkway in the main building to each child when they entered the building. It was reported 400 children showed up during the afternoon of December 19th."
"On December 17th, the anniversary date of the first Wright Brothers flight, we made history once again by flying our C-54D the 4 miles from the Dare County Regional Airport to the First Flight Airport and landing on the 3000 foot runway. We remained there for 4 hours for visitors to tour. We still hold the record for being the largest airplane to land at the First Flight Airport."
Peter Brill recently visited Witold Walus and his DC-6B ZS-MUL, which is located north of Pretoria, South Africa. Peter last visited Witold in 2019 and reports that the aircraft is still intact and in relatively good condition. The lack of funds and the COVID pandemic have put a halt to Witold’s plans for a museum, at least for the time being. Peter provided some photos from his visit.
Rand Airport Update – November 13, 2021
Peter Brill recently visited Rand Airport in South Africa and reports the latest status of the airfield’s Douglas Propliners. "Photography is quite difficult as they packed as many aircraft as possible into the compound. Despite all their efforts to save what is possible, the two DC-6’s that were in storage for many years were scrapped last year...one was offered to the museum, but there is no space or money."
"DC-4 ZS-AUB is tucked up nicely in the museum’s compound. She has three good engines but in need of a D check. The old warhorse still looks beautiful though. Her registration has been cancelled as no funds are available to operate her. All hopes are on ZS-BMH now as she had her registration renewed and is current. But alas, funds are not available to operate. So at the moment, she’s parked in front of the tower next to the Dutch Heritage Foundation’s ZS-AUA. Unfortunately there is no news about this ambitious project. These folks spent a lot of money on the project with all valuable parts like engines and the like stored in a nearby hangar." Many thanks to Peter for his report and photos
BAHF C-54 Debuts New Paint Scheme – November 1, 2021
After five weeks in the paint hangar at Crider Aircraft Painting in Mena, Arkansas, Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation's (BAHF) C-54D N500EJ emerged on Wednesday October 20, 2021 looking absolutely stunning. The folks at Crider did a great job at transforming her from her tired “freight dog” look to the colors she wore while serving with the 60th Troop Carrier Squadron during the 1948-49 Berlin Airlift.
It just so happened that the Christian Motorcyclist Association was having its annual gathering in Mena, Arkansas and a group of them came by the airport and blessed the airplane by offering a prayer and affixing a "I Was Blessed in 2021" sticker to the nose wheel well. The airport folks in Mena were incredibly helpful and friendly during our short stay. This included Roger Crider and his crew, the airport manager Fred Ogden and a number of other individuals that went out of their way to help us out with supplies and services. Apparently the rollout of a WWII transport airplane caused quite a stir in Mena and we had visits from the mayor, head of the chamber of commerce and the local newspaper. After preparing the airplane for flight, the crew and aircraft departed Mena on Friday morning for the 2½ hour flight to Sparta, Tennessee, where it would be on display at an air show.
The Sparta air show was the aircraft’s debut in her stunning new paint scheme and the crowd loved it! More than 250 people toured the aircraft during the show. While many of the display cases have yet to be installed, crewmembers made sure that the visitors were provided with basic information about the Berlin Airlift. In addition to the BAHF C-54, the USAF was represented by a C-17 and A-10. Flagship Detroit Foundation’s DC-3 N17334 was in attendance and was selling rides to airshow attendees during the show. These rides provided lots of opportunity to capture this beautiful airplane in action. It was a very nice event with the weather gods cooperating with ideal sunny and cool weather.
The Berlin Airlift Veterans Association (BAVA) has been a long-time supporter of BAHF and Eddie Ide represented the organization on the trip. Congratulations to BAHF President Tim Chopp and the volunteers that managed to replace the organization’s original C-54E, which was destroyed by a tornado 18 months ago, with this beautiful aircraft. There is still much to do, which will require lots of money. Contributions can be made on the BAHF website. http://www.spiritoffreedom.org/donate.html
DC-4 Continues to Rot Away in Georgia – October 31, 2021 - Updated November 11, 2021
Wyatt Williams recently visited Douglas, Georgia and reports that DC-4 N708Z has not been scrapped. While this is good news, the bad news is that Wyatt’s photo seems to indicate that the DC-4 has been abandoned and is slowly rotting away on the tarmac. For more information, check out the February 10, 2019 report on the website.
UPDATE – James R sent me a link to a 4-minute YouTube video of a July 2019 walkaround of the aircraft. It has been abandoned at the airport since arriving in October 2005 with its #4 engine shut down.
Bolivian DC-4 and DC-6B Advertised For Sale – September 24, 2021
Captain Jorge Pardo recently advertised the sale of DC-4 CP-1207 and DC-6B CP-1651. The aircraft are located at El Alto International Airport in La Paz, Bolivia with asking prices of $70,000 and $50,000 respectively. DC-4 CP-1207 has been undergoing an on-again/off-again restoration for the past few years and appears to be in reasonable condition. DC-6B CP-1651 also appears to be in reasonable condition but the engines have been removed. In case you’re interested in buying a DC-4 or DC-6B, here’s the advertisement with Jorge's contact information.
Painting of BAHF C-54D Underway – September 22, 2021
Painting has begun on Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation’s C-54D N500EJ at Crider Aircraft Painting in Mena, Arkansas. Roger Crider forwarded this “in-process” photo to Tim Chopp yesterday and Tim was kind enough to forward it to me.
BAHF C-54D Arrives at Paint Shop – September 10, 2021
C-54D N500EJ (former N9015Q) arrived safely at Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport in Mena, Arkansas yesterday at 6:55pm after a multi-stop flight from Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, where it attended an airshow on August 21st and 22nd. Asked if it would be painted the same as the original “Spirit of Freedom” C-54E, Berlin Airlift Historical Society Vice President Kevin Kearney replied "Similar, but authentic to the airlift. We believe that this airplane, given its extensive history, should have its own identity."
DC-7B Languishes at Charlotte Airport – September 5, 2021
DC-7B N836D has languished at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina since November 18, 2011, when its number three engine failed on takeoff and the aircraft was forced to make an uneventful emergency landing at the airport. The DC-7B was parked outside the Carolinas Aviation Museum until the museum was forced to move out of its hangar to make room for the Honeywell corporate flight department. The museum’s collection was moved to a remote storage area at the airport, where it awaits construction of a new museum facility. Gregory Maher photographed a rather forlorn looking N836D on August 28, 2021. The good news is that the museum appears to have made an attempt to protect the aircraft from the elements although the cowlings are not plugged and the four engines are most likely home to many birds. Birds seem to love to make their nests in aircraft engine compartments!
The aircraft was originally delivered to Eastern Airlines in January 1958 and was rescued and restored by Carlos Gomez and Mark Wolff in an epic six year effort from 2004 to 2010. Flown to AirVenture in July 2010, it made a number of appearances at airshows in Florida that spring and summer. Temporary Pan American markings were applied for filming of the short-lived Pan Am TV series at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, New York and it also made a round-trip flight to St. Maarten from Opa-locka in May 2011. I was lucky enough to have made a number of flights on the aircraft, including the roundtrip St. Maarten flight; a flight from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey to Opa-locka; and a roundtrip flight from Opa-locka to Key West with fellow enthusiast John Travolta onboard.
Many have lamented as to why the engine wasn't replaced and the aircraft returned to service. The simple truth is that it boiled down to economics. A DC-7B is very expensive to operate and it was not possible to generate enough revenue to cover those costs. The aircraft is currently for sale and, if anyone is interested in buying her, they can contact Carlos Gomez at Conquest Air Cargo.
For additional information about the restoration effort, check out my January 2011 article on this website.
Hurricane Ida Damages DC-3 – September 4, 2021 - Updated September 10, 2021
Hurricane Ida came ashore in southern Louisiana on August 29th with 150 mph winds causing extensive damage to the region. Houma, Louisiana based Airborne Support Inc. (ASI) was right in the path of the monster storm and the company did not escape the wrath of Ida. N64767 was in the company hangar and suffered severe damage as did the hangar. Fortunately DC-3 N64766 and BT-67 N932H were not damaged. There is no word on DC-4 N67024, which ASI operated at one time. I don't believe that it has flown for a number of years and was probably parked on the field when the storm struck.
UPDATE: Brad Barker of ASI provided an update on DC-4 N67024. "Our C-54, N67024 (expired) was on the ramp in Houma. She pulled a 48,000 LB crawler tug backward nearly 100 feet before the tow bar snapped. She then settled in the grass between ramp and taxiway spaces."
Disassembled DC-6B Offered For Sale – August 31, 2021
As reported on August 5, 2021, former Air Atlantique DC-6B G-SIXC recently departed Coventry Airport for St. Athan, Wales. On August 25th GJD Services posted the following on their Facebook page announcing that the disassembled aircraft was for sale in its entirety or as individual components. Surely not the greatest news but better than a report saying the aircraft had been scrapped.
Douglas DC6, formally the diner at Coventry Airport.
Starred with James Bond in Casino Royal.
For sale as a whole or as many parts as required. Engines, propellers, wings, tail, fuselage all available.
Can be refurbished and repainted as required, also can be delivered and reassembled at additional cost.
As some of you cannot read, for the avoidance of doubt, she is not being parted out.
She is offered as just a fuselage, or a fuselage and tail , or fuselage tail, inner wings, and if required outer wings and engines with props.
C-54D Attends Its First Post-Restoration Airshow – August 24, 2021
C-54D N500EJ 'Spirit of Freedom' made its first post-restoration airshow appearance in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania this past weekend. As reported on April 28, 2021, the aircraft had previously been registered N9015Q and was purchased by the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation after the organization's original C-54E N500EJ was severely damaged by a tornado in Walterboro, South Carolina on April 13, 2020. A small but dedicated crew spent nine months restoring the aircraft back to an airworthy condition and it made its first post restoration flight on April 24, 2021. The next day it departed for Walterboro, where it joined the damaged C-54E. Work began almost immediately on transferring the interior from the damaged to the 'new' aircraft.
The two previous flights had been conducted under a temporary Letter of Authorization (LOA) and a final LOA was issued by the FAA on July 28, 2021. With this all-important document in hand, the aircraft was flown from Walterboro to Waynesburg, Pennsylvania for that airport's August 21/22 airshow. This is the airport where BAHF President Tim Chopp learned how to fly and the organization’s C-54 has been a regular attendee at the airshow over the years. The aircraft will be flown to Mena, Arkansas for painting in colors very similar to the original N500EJ. Congratulations to everyone involved in the amazing reincarnation of this vintage Propliner! Many thanks to Matt Rizor for sharing his airshow photos.
Second DC-6 Arrives in St. Athan – August 5, 2021
The main fuselage of former Air Atlantique DC-6B G-SIXC recently departed Coventry Airport and arrived safely at the South Wales Aviation Museum in St. Athan. She joins stablemate G-APSA, which had been has been transported in pieces over the past few months. The GJD Services Facebook post said that it would be given some “remedial” work before being offered for sale. Can’t imagine who might be interested in buying a disassembled DC-6…does anyone have any more information regarding possible future plans for this airframe?
DC-6A Forward Fuselage Arrives at Museum – July 30, 2021 - Updated August 5, 2021
The forward fuselage of DC-6A G-APSA arrived at the South Wales Aviation Museum (SWAM) by road from Coventry, England on the morning of July 29, 2021. The rear fuselage arrived a few months back on April 28, 2021 and the engines, outer wings and props have also been delivered to the museum. The middle fuselage section, less landing gear, is scheduled to be moved to the museum the week of August 2nd. Rumor has it that DC-6B G-SIXC will be following G-APSA to the museum, once parts have been salvaged from it. It would be wonderful if both Atlantic Airlines DC-6s were saved! For more information see the May 2, 2021, November 12, 2020 and March 2, 2019 reports on this website.
UPDATE: The center fuselage section was loaded onto a trailer at Coventry on August 4th for transport to the museum. With that being said, the majority of the aircraft has now been moved and reassembly can begin!
Vintage Airlifter Receives Some TLC – July 29, 2021
C-118A 53-3255 is on display at the traffic circle in front of the JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst passenger terminal and was recently repainted. The aircraft has been on display at McGuire since 2013 after completion of a 3½ year restoration effort by members of the 305th AMW, AFRC 514th AMW, and 87th Air Base Wing. The restoration included replacing the tires, removing and cleaning the windows, repairing the sheet metal, and applying a fresh coat of paint.
The aircraft has an interesting history in that it was the first transport aircraft assigned to then McGuire AFB in 1953 when the base was transitioned from a combat to mobility mission. It was based at McGuire until 1964, when it was transferred to the U.S. Navy as BuNo 152687 and based at Keflavik, Iceland where I believe it served out the rest of its military career. After ending its military service with the U.S. Navy, the C-118 was flown to McGuire AFB in 1982 for eventual display at the base. The aircraft’s main claim to fame is that it transported Elvis Presley from Germany to McGuire AFB on March 2/3, 1960, when he was discharged from the Army.
I was based at McGuire AFB from 1971 to 1973 and one of these days I’m going to have to make a trip back there and get some photos of this vintage airlifter.
Greybull Propliners Up For Auction – July 4, 2021
It looks like it’s the end of the road for a collection of Propliners that have called Greybull home for many years. The C-119s, C-97s, P2Vs and C-130 were remnants of the once mighty Hawkins and Powers firebomber fleet while the C-82s were trucked in from Alaska; the C-54s from Mesa, Arizona; and the M404 from Sheridan, Wyoming. I believe they are all owned by Harold Sheppard but don’t know that for certain. I visited Greybull in May 2003 and again in July 2006, just before the Hawkins and Powers aircraft auction. There doesn’t seem to be much interest in the aircraft since current bid prices are extremely low…$1 in many cases. This is probably due to the fact that the price of scrap aluminum is currently very low and it could very well cost more to scrap the airplanes than the value of the scrap metal and other components. In the end, if the Greybull city fathers want the aircraft to be gone from the airport, they might have to pay to have them removed. Many thanks to Shawn Keating who pointed out a recent post on the Warbird Information Exchange (WIX) website.
Auction #2837298 - C-130 Salvage body - No markings Auction #2837310 - Lot of five aircraft fuselages - C-82s 45-57782/N5102B and 44-23027/N8009E, C-54s 39122/N67017 and 50865/N67019, M404 (N461M)
Another Successful Engine Run at North Weald – June 8, 2021
As reported on April 21, 2021, 'Save the Skymaster' volunteers successfully coaxed the #1 and #3 engines on C-54Q N44914 out of their long hibernation and successfully ran them at North Weald Airfield. The #4 engine carburetor needed a rebuild and, with that completed, the engine was successfully run on May 29th. Garry Verducci sent me a video of the #4 engine run, which I have posted for your enjoyment.
CRHnews posted a couple of interesting YouTube videos of Lead Engineer Dave Hamilton giving a tour of the exterior and interior of the aircraft. These videos provide a good look at both the interior and exterior with a bit of historical background.
Location of Former Brooks Fuel Aircraft Confirmed – June 5, 2021
As reported on March 27, 2020, 1st Strike Asset Management was contracted by the State of Alaska to clean up the Brooks Fuel yard at Fairbanks International Airport prior to the state undertaking an environmental cleanup. An on-line auction was held in mid-April 2020, which included tools, equipment, vehicles and a number of aircraft. A few aircraft were moved off the compound prior to the auction, including DC-7C N90251, DC-4 N438NA and DC-3 N95460. The DC-3 was noted being towed along a local highway on October 29, 2019 and it was later reported that it was headed to nearby Chena Marina Airport. Reports had the DC-7C and DC-4 being moved to the Everts north hangar area. None of these reports were confirmed and I had hoped to verify the locations during a May 2021 trip to Alaska that unfortunately never happened.
When I heard that Bo-Goran Lundqvist would be visiting Alaska in May 2021, I asked him if he would corroborate the reports regarding the aircraft locations. I’m happy to report that he was able to do so. He visited Chena Marina Airport and confirmed that DC-3 N95460 was indeed parked at the airport. While he wasn’t able to visit the Everts north hangar, he managed a window seat photo during takeoff on his Fairbanks to Anchorage flight! While the photo confirmed the presence DC-7C N90251 and DC-4 N438NA on the ramp outside the hangar, it revealed that DC-4 N67018 was also parked there. This was a complete surprise to me in that I thought that it had been sold at the April 2020 auction along with DC-4s N51802, N90201 and N99212. Many thanks to Bo-Goran for his report.
Unidentified Idaho Falls Cockpit Section – June 1, 2021
Dave Hackett shared a photo of what appears to be either a DC-6 or DC-7 cockpit section located near the Pacific Fighters Hangar at Idaho Falls Regional Airport (KIDA). He took the photo while on vacation a few weeks ago but unfortunately it was Sunday and there was no one around to ask about its identity. It’s painted in 1950s era United Airlines colors with Mainliner "Los Angeles" titles. Mainliner "Los Angeles" was DC-7 N6304C, which was scrapped at Ontario, CA in 1968. If anyone knows the correct identity of this cockpit, please email me. Many thanks to Dave for sharing his report and photo.
DC-6A Fuselage Section Arrives at Welsh Museum – May 2, 2021
As reported on November 12, 2020, the South Wales Aviation Museum (SWAM) has acquired former Atlantic Airways DC-6A G-APSA. The aircraft’s rear fuselage arrived at the South Wales Aviation Museum (SWAM) by road from Coventry, England on April 28, 2021. It was retired some years ago by Atlantic Airlines and has been stored since in British Eagle colors at Coventry Airport. The remainder of the aircraft will follow and will be reassembled and placed on display at the museum. Kudos to the museum for saving this iconic aircraft!
BAHF C-54 Makes First Post-Restoration Flight – April 28, 2021
I spent last weekend with Tim Chopp and his folks at New Smyrna Beach Airport, where the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation achieved a major milestone with the first post-restoration flight of C-54D N9015Q. The airplane had been ready for the flight in early April 2021 but the required Letter of Authorization (LOA) hadn’t been signed off by the FAA and the team headed home to await approval of the letter. Three weeks later with the LOA in hand, the group again headed south and, after stopping briefly in Walterboro to pick up a replacement tail cone off of N500EJ, they arrived at New Smyrna Beach the evening of April 22nd. Knowing the schedule was tight, installation of the tail cone began immediately that evening and by the next morning it was in place. The crew worked all day preparing the engines for a test run, which was completed that evening at 9:30pm. I know this for a fact since I was there when it happened!
A few minor issues were uncovered during the engine runs but all were corrected the next morning and at 1:30pm the four R2000 engines were started and N9015Q taxied out to the airport’s 5,000 foot runway 25. After a thorough engine runup and pre-take off crew briefing, the venerable C-54D took the active runway and at 2:00pm began its takeoff roll. The takeoff was flawless and after a 55 minute test flight circling the airport, Tim Chopp brought the aircraft back to terra firma with a textbook landing. A crowd of enthusiasts and well-wishers had gathered for the event and were on hand on the American Aero Services ramp to congratulate the crew for a job well done! On hand for the event was the aircraft’s previous owner Lynn Florey, who was one of the first to congratulate Tim and the crew. The airport administration and FAA tower staff were incredibly accommodating during Saturday’s test flight with the assistant airport manager Adam Lo Bianco escorting a small group of us out onto the field adjacent to the runway to photograph the aircraft.
As with the previous night’s engine runs, there were a few items that needed attention before the planned ferry flight to Walterboro, which was planned for the next day. Again, the crew worked into the night and at 3:00pm Sunday April 25, 2021 the aircraft departed New Smyrna Beach for Walterboro, where it arrived safely after an uneventful two hour flight. Tim parked the airplane nose-to-nose with C-54E “Spirit of Freedom” and the task of removing the interior and installing it in N9015Q began.
Now that the airplane has successfully completed two flights and is safely in South Carolina, the plan is to complete the interior swap in Walterboro; attend the Mid Atlantic Air Museum’s 2021 WWII Weekend on June 4-6; and then immediately fly to Crider Aircraft Paint in Mena Arkansas where the aircraft will be painted in the same colors as N500EJ. It will retain the name “Spirit of Freedom” and eventually be re-registered N500EJ.
Tim is blessed with an incredibly dedicated group of volunteers that have worked on getting the aircraft airworthy since September 2020. Volunteers Jase Pence, Shae Leighland-Pence and Jim Rueger have been at the airport during every one of my half dozen visits since September. I can say without a doubt that, if not for their efforts, the airplane wouldn’t have flown this weekend. I congratulate Tim and the entire BAHF organization for their perseverance in finding a replacement aircraft and having it in the air one year and eleven days after the tornado. A lesser group would have probably folded their tent and given up!
For more information about the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation, check out the organization's website at www.spiritoffreedom.org. If you’d like to donate to this very worthy cause, you can make a contribution thru PayPal at Airlift48@aol.com or thru the BAHF website.
C-54Q Restoration Achieves Major Milestone – April 21, 2021
Volunteers from the ‘Save the Skymaster’ organization have been diligently working for the past few years on the restoration of C-54Q N44914. What makes the restoration particularly exciting is that the group plans on restoring it to an airworthy condition. The aircraft has a long military history with the U.S. Navy as BuNo 56498 and saw service during WWII, Korea and Vietnam before being retired by the Navy in April 1972. Biegert Aviation acquired the aircraft in October 1975, when it joined the company’s fleet of bug sprayers as N44914. Atlantic Warbirds acquired it in March 1996 and flew it on the U.S. airshow circuit for a number of years before Aces High bought it in September 2002 for a motion picture project that never happened. The aircraft, along with DC-4 N31356, arrived at North Weald on September 27, 2002 after a trans-Atlantic crossing and it has remained grounded ever since.
After working tirelessly on reawakening the aircraft’s R2000 engines, the team achieved a major milestone on March 28, 2021 when the #1 and #3 engines were run for the first time since 2002. The #2 engine is toast and will be replaced by a low time engine that the group owns. The #4 engine will be run in the very near future after volunteers complete work on its carburetor. While there is still much work to do, this is very good news indeed! There was lots of doubts about the viability of making this airplane airworthy but the team is well on its way to proving the naysayers wrong.
Garry Verducci recently sent me some recent photos and videos of the #1 engine run and the #3 engine run. Aviation Interests recently posted a short video featuring a recent walkthrough of aircraft. I’d like to thank Garry Verducci for sending the photos and videos and wish the group luck in their effort to get this vintage airplane back flying.
If you’d like to donate to this very worthy project, check out the group’s donation webpage.
Belly Tank Removed from Former Air Tanker – April 2, 2021
As reported on September 24, 2020 the Historic Wendover Airfield Museum acquired DC-4/C-54 N8502R in 2020. The aircraft is a former air tanker #65 and during the weekend of March 27-28, 2021 its belly tank was removed. It will be cleaned up and repainted in the colors of one of the three C-54s that that were assigned to the 320th Troop Carrier Squadron/509th Composite Group at Wendover Airfield. Fortunately space is available in the field's B-29 Hangar, where the aircraft will be protected from the environment. This is a luxury that it hasn’t enjoyed in many years! The museum intends to keep it in a condition that, given the funds, it could be returned to flight as well. For additional info, check out the museum’s website.
Another Tucson Scrapyard Closing – February 4, 2021
I was recently informed that John Gasho’s Western International Aviation scrapyard is closing with all of the aircraft being either removed or scrapped. Included are four former USN C-118s and a single USAF C-118. All of the USN aircraft have been owned by Everts at one time or another and used for parts reclamation . 53-3245 was scrapped yesterday on February 3rd and the plan is to scrap the remaining USN C-118s in the near future. Graham Robson, who has an extensive collection of Tucson scrapyard Propliners photos was kind enough to provide the following photos. The aerial photo was taken in 2018 and the aircraft photos in 2006 and 2015.
BuNo 131571 (N528ZE)
BuNo 131590 (N517EE)
BuNo 131601 (N5307S)
BuNo 131608 (N830CS)
New Smyrna Beach Airport Update – February 4, 2021 - Updated February 6, 2021
I’ve recently made a number of trips to New Smyrna Beach Airport to report on the restoration of C-54D/DC-4 N9015Q by the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation (BAHF). A number of things have changed at American Aero Services and the airport but much remains the same since my September 25, 2020 report.
DC-7BF N381AA, which was parked in a mid-field parking area has returned to the east side of the field and is parked once again on the Epic Flight Academy ramp. It still retains all it vital parts and appears about the same as when I last photographed it. The move was featured in the TV reality show Shipping Wars and provides some interesting insight on the aircraft’s 200 mile move from Opa-locka Airport to New Smyrna Beach. Warning, be prepared for reality show stupidity and silliness. PBY-5A N423RS/JV928 remains stored in a storage yard across the street from American Aero Services and is reported to be for sale.
The fuselage of Canso A N983CF remains stored outside on the American Aero ramp while the former Dutch PBY-5A N459CF has been moved to a storage hangar where it's keeping company with P-51 'Toulouse Nuts' and two TP-40Ns. B-17G N207EV remains in the work hangar along with B-25N N347GG 'Tondeleyo' and Grumman Goose N985R.
C-54 Successfully Completes High-Speed Taxi Tests – February 3, 2021
Tim Chopp and a small team of very dedicated volunteers from the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation (BAHF) have revived DC-4/C-54D N9015Q and, on Sunday January 31, 2021, they successfully completed taxi testing of the aircraft which included four high speed runs on the airport’s 5,000 foot runway 25. The testing attracted a crowd of onlookers at the fence lines at both ends of the runway. Although most of them probably had no idea about the aircraft, it appeared they thoroughly enjoyed the show! Since acquiring the aircraft in April 2020, the team has made numerous work trips to New Smyrna Beach and they departed for home on Monday after securing the aircraft. The plan is to return the third week of February and complete the remaining items required to get the airplane ready for a flight to Walterboro, South Carolina, where the interior from C-54E N500EJ will be installed. Once that is done, the airplane will be sent to a paint shop for painting in the same colors as N500EJ. I’ve included a number of photos and some videos from Sunday. For more information about the project, check out previous news reports on this website, starting with the January 25, 2021 report.
C-54 One Step Closer to First Flight – January 25, 2021
I visited Tim Chopp and a small group of Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation volunteers at New Smyrna Beach Airport on January 24, 2021. The weather was not the best and, in spite of intermittent showers, the group successfully performed the final gear swing on C-54D N9015Q prior to its upcoming post restoration flight, which Tim estimates to be about a month away. This is the team’s fourth trip to New Smyrna Beach to work on the airplane and much progress has been made since the aircraft was acquired in August 2020. For more information about BAHFs efforts, check out the December 21, 2020 report on this website. I recorded the landing gear retraction and extension tests on video and posted them on YouTube.
DC-7B Moved to Delta Flight Museum – January 19, 2021
DC-7B N4887C was moved during the early morning hours of January 9, 2021 to its new home in front of Hangar 1 at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport. This caps off a multi-year effort by the Delta Flight Museum and Delta Airlines, which involved restoring the aircraft to an airworthy condition; ferrying it from Phoenix to Atlanta; and repainting it in 1950’s period Delta colors. The aircraft looks spectacular and will be put on permanent display at this location. Congratulations and kudos to the Delta Flight Museum and Delta Airlines for saving this gorgeous airplane. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the area and museum are currently closed until further notice to visitors without Delta ID.
Melbourne, Florida Mystery Fuselage – January 15, 2021
The forward fuselage of what was described as a DC-8 front section was advertised for sale on Apple Marketplace in early November 2020. I suspect it's not a DC-8 but more likely a DC-6 or DC-7. If you’re inclined to own a forward fuselage, it’s still listed for the incredibly low price of $10. I’ve contacted the owner and I’m hoping to have a look at it in the near future. Here are photos included in the advertisement.
Alaskan DC-4 Returned to Service – January 14, 2021
Marc Hookerman reports that repairs to Alaska Air Fuel’s (AAF) DC-4 N3054V have been completed and the aircraft has returned to service hauling fuel to the far reaches of Alaska. For more information about the aircraft, check out the December 19, 2020 report on this page. Marc also reports that DC-4 N51802 remains parked at Fairbanks International Airport. As reported on June 5, 2020 this aircraft was purchased by AAF at last year’s Brooks Fuel auction in Fairbanks.
BAHF Achieves Major Milestone – December 21, 2020
As reported on October 12, 2020, Tim Chopp and a small group of Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation (BAHF) volunteers have been busy at New Smyrna Beach Airport getting C-54D/DC-4 N9015Q ready for its first flight since August 20, 2014 when it suffered a nose gear collapse while landing at the airport. A major milestone was achieved on Saturday December 19th when a successful gear retraction test was completed followed by a taxi test. All went well and Tim hopes to depart New Smyrna Beach for Walterboro, South Carolina in January. N9015Q will be parked adjacent to N500EJ to facilitate the transfer of the interior, installation of the ADS-B transponder and completion of other necessary work prior to it going to the paint shop. The aircraft will be painted in the same colors as N500EJ, retain the name 'Spirit of Freedom' and be re-registered N500EJ. The group’s mission will remain the same and Tim hopes to debut the airplane at the 2021 Sun ‘n Fun airshow. For more information about the project and how you can make a contribution, check out the groups December Newsletter. Many thanks to Shae Leighland-Pence for the photos of the recent gear swing.
Alaskan DC-4 Being Readied for Return to Service – December 19, 2020
As reported on October 15, 2020, Alaska Air Fuel’s (AAF) DC-4 N96358 was written off when overran the runway at Yakataga Airport, Alaska on October 10, 2020. AAF had initially been interested in purchasing Buffalo Airways DC-4 N55CW but apparently the two parties couldn’t agree on purchase terms. N55CW has been stored at Keystone Airpark in Florida for the past six years and was last based at Punta Gorda, Florida on an oil dispersant standby contract back in 2012. Due to the deal on N55CW falling through, AAF is busy preparing its second DC-4 N3054V for a return to service with engines already installed and functional checks scheduled for next week. This aircraft was an active flyer with AAF and has been stored at Wasilla, Alaska for the past four years.
Work Continues on Australian DC-4 – December 18, 2020
Work continues, albeit slowly, at HARS on the restoration of DC-4 VH-EAY (formerly VH-PAF). The DC-4 hasn't flown since it was delivered to HARS and progress has slowed as resources are heavily committed to making John Travolta’s B707 airworthy for its delivery flight from the US to Australia. VH-EAY had been painted with the Airlines of NSW livery on the starboard side and the Qantas ochre color scheme on the port but was repainted for the recent 100th birthday of Qantas on 16 November 2020. Qantas had a black tie function at HARS and rightfully wanted the aircraft painted in an appropriate Qantas scheme. Latest word from HARS is that they haven’t set a target date for the aircraft’s first flight and there is still quite a bit of work that needs to be completed before that happens. Many thanks to Phil Vabre and HARS for the photos.
DC-7B Ready for Display – November 13, 2020
Delta Airlines has completed the exterior restoration and repainting of DC-7B N4887C at its paint hangar in Atlanta, Georgia. As reported extensively on this website, the aircraft was made airworthy and flown from Arizona to Atlanta earlier this year where it will be placed on outdoor display at the Delta Flight Museum. Ryan Patterson recently photographed the aircraft and posted the photo on the Airliners.net website. He generously gave me permission to share his photo on this website.
DC-6’s Being Prepped for Move to Welsh Aviation Museum – November 12, 2020
As reported on March 2, 2019 DC-6A has been acquired by the South Wales Aviation Museum (SWAM). GJD Services announced on November 7, 2020 that the company had been contracted to move not only G-APSA to the museum, but also DC-6B G-SIXC. "GJD are now preparing to move the two DC6's from Coventry to St Athan. The former British Eagle aircraft G-APSA will be going on display at SWAM." This is VERY GOOD NEWS indeed!
End of the Line for Arizona DC-4s – October 25, 2020
As reported on December 30, 2019, Bill Dempsay’s four DC-4s were for sale at Marana Regional Airport (formerly Avra Valley Airport) near Tucson, Arizona. The aircraft had been stored at the airport for 20+ years and three of the four aircraft have recently been stripped of engines and other useful components, with only N96451 #111 remaining unscathed. It is reported that this aircraft has been sold and will be made airworthy for a flight to an unknown destination. Scroggins Aviation Mockup & Effects recently purchased the remains of N67040 #147, which will be transported to Mojave, California for use in future motion picture/television projects. Unfortunately, N6816D #109 and N67034 #150 will be cut up for scrap.
During my first visit to the airport in March 1997, there were six DC-4s, with two making their 'escapes' in the ensuing years. N31356 made the long flight from Tucson to North Weald Airfield near London in September 2002 only to be scrapped in 2015, with the nose put on display at the Burtonwood Heritage Center. N67062 #148 was flown to March AFB on January 19, 2002 and is currently on display at the March Field Air Museum. For more information on the 'escapes', check out Ruud Leeuw's website pages N31356 and N67062.
The demise of these aircraft reduces the once abundant Propliner population of the airport down to a sole example…P2V N80232. I'd like to thank Doug Scroggins for his report and photos and Ruud Leeuw for hosting his superb website. Over the years, it has provided me with information that was available nowhere else.
2001 Arizona Firebomber Retrospect – October 23, 2020
In March 2001 I visited Ryan Field based ARDCO and met company owners Gary and Meegan Garrett. ARDCO was a firefighting company that operated three immaculate DC-4 air tankers and I wrote an article about the visit that was published in the Spring 2001/#86 issue of Propliner magazine. I made a number of return visits over the next few years until ARDCO was forced to shut down because of the federal government’s May 10, 2004 decision to terminate contracts on the entire 33-strong large tanker fleet. The decision was the result of the June 17, 2002 crash of H&P’s C-130A N130HP followed a month later by PB4Y-2 Privateer N7620C on July 18, 2002. Affected aircraft types included the C-130A, PB4Y-2, DC-4, DC-6, DC-7, P-3A and P-2.
While none of the Douglas type aircraft had ever suffered a structural failure during firefighting operations, they were still included in the edict. ARDCO's three DC-4s were advertised for sale, with Miami based Florida Air Transport acquiring them in 2009/2010 and converting them to freighters. While N406WA was kept very busy flying relief flights after the January 2010 Haitian earthquake, N460WA and N9015Q arrived later and pretty much missed out participating in the flights. N9015Q and N406WA were leased to Jet One Express in 2011 with N406WA flying bread from San Juan to St. Maarten and St. Croix until it was damaged during a nose gear incident at San Juan on March 22, 2012. Essentially abandoned at the airport, it was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria in September 2017 and finally broken up in April 2020. N9015Q was subsequently sold to New Smyrna Beach, Florida based Island Air Transport and more recently acquired by the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation to replace their tornado damaged C-54E N500EJ. N460WA was converted to an oil dispersant sprayer and is currently airworthy and based at Merced County Castle Airport in Atwater, California.
While visiting friends a couple of weeks ago, I heard that Gary Garrett had recently passed away and thought it fitting to resurrect the 2001 article and post it on the website.
Possible Last Ever DC-7 Flight – October 21, 2020
Erickson Aero Tanker’s DC-7B N838D Tanker #60 departed Medford, Oregon for a final time returning to Madras, Oregon on October 14, 2020 after fighting wild fires in Oregon this summer. The flight could very well be the last ever DC-7 flight as there are no other operating DC-7s in the world and Erickson’s 2021 contract with Oregon doesn’t include DC-7 tankers. In a fitting tribute, the aircraft performed a final retardant dump adjacent to a highway that had been blocked off for the occasion. I've included a photo of the aircraft departing Meford and two of it arriving in Madras.
The DC-7B joins two other DC-7 tankers, N6553C Tanker #66 and N401US Tanker #62, which sat out the 2020 fire season. N401US was on contract with Oregon in 2019 and N6553C has been stored for the past few years. All were painted a few years ago in updated Erickson colors and hopefully all will be preserved in some manner. For additional information Erickson’s DC-7 firebombers, check out the July 26, 2020 post on this website.
Keystone Airpark Electras & DC-4 – October 18, 2020
I visited Keystone Airpark on October 16, 2020 and, in addition to visiting MHD-Rockland, I had the opportunity to photograph the four former Zantop Electras (N282F, N286F, N340HA and N346HA) and Buffalo Airways DC-4 N55CW that have been parked at the airport for a number of years. After Zantop ceased operations in 2001, the four Electras were stored in Ypsilanti, Michigan for quite a few years before being acquired by MHD-Rockland. One by one they were made airworthy and flown to Keystone Heights in late 2014/early 2015 using one set of engines provided by Buffalo Airways. MHD-Rockland teamed with Electra expert Don Deyo of Mercair and Buffalo Airways with the goal of restoring the aircraft as freighters and/or firebombers. For whatever reason, the venture never gelled and the Electras were parked at the southwest end of the airport near the approach end of runway 5. They have since been moved to a grassy area near t-hangars at the northeast corner of the airport. I witnessed the arrival of two of the Electras and it’s sad to see how quickly they have deteriorated. All four aircraft are covered with dark mold and, as reported on September 1, 2020 unless a last minute buyer appears, the aircraft will most likely be scrapped.
DC-4 N55CW was parked at the approach end of runway 5 and, as reported on March 15, 2020, was being prepared for a ferry flight to Buffalo’s maintenance base in Red Deer, Alberta by Ronnie McBryan in February 2020 when he fell ill and had to return to Canada. The aircraft was just about ready to make the flight but then COVID-19 happened, the U.S.-Canadian border was closed and the airplane has remained parked at the airport ever since. Like the rest of the Buffalo DC-4 fleet, the aircraft is for sale and, with the demise of Alaska Air Fuel’s DC-4 N96358 a few weeks ago, Joe McBryan may have a buyer for the aircraft. There are very few airworthy and near-airworthy DC-4s and N55CW would make an ideal fuel hauler since it was last used as an oil dispersant sprayer and it comes complete with tanks.
DC-4 Damaged in Runway Overrun – October 15, 2020
Alaska Air Fuel DC-4 N96358 was severely damaged when it overran the runway at Yakataga Airport, Alaska on Saturday October 10, 2020. While the aircraft came to rest sitting on its nose with its nose gear lying nearby, luckily none of the crew members were injured. The aircraft was delivering fuel to the remote 4,350 foot landing strip but no fuel was spilled during the incident. The FAA had recently issued a NOTAM warning pilots not to use the unpaved runway for aircraft weighing over 5,000 pounds due to the runway's soft surface and recent damage to it. At this time it is not known if the aircraft will be repaired. Alaska Air Fuel owns another DC-4, N3054V, which is stored at Wasilla Airport. This report is based on an article originally published in the October 13, 2020 edition of The Cardova Times.
Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation C-54 Update – October 12, 2020
As reported on August 26, 2020, the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation (BAHF) recently acquired C-54D/DC-4 N9015Q to replace C-54E/DC-4 N500EJ ‘Spirit of Freedom’ which was severely damaged by a tornado in Walterboro, S.C. during the early morning hours of April 13, 2020. A small group of volunteers, led by BAHF President Tim Chopp, traveled to New Smyrna Beach, Florida in early October with the mission of preparing N9015Q for its first flight in 5+ years. Working on the American Aero Services ramp at the airport, the volunteers have made much progress in reawakening the vintage aircraft. I live a few hours from New Smyrna Beach and drove to the airport on Friday morning October 9th where Tim Chopp, Jase & Shae Pence and Jim Rueger were busy at work on the C-54.
Since the aircraft hasn’t flown for a number of years, it needs to be inspected and serviced in accordance with the group’s FAA approved Continuous Airworthiness Inspection Program prior to flight. First on the group’s 'To-Do' list was replacement of the four time-expired props with four compliant props pulled from N500EJ. Before arriving in Florida, the group stopped at Waterboro and removed the four props for shipment to New Smyrna Beach along with other necessary tools and components.
The control cables have to be inspected and Jase had squeezed himself into the bowels of the fuselage to inspect and lubricate the cables, fittings and bell crank that operate the control surfaces. Not much room to get into this space but Jase managed to squeeze in and determined that all was well. With this done, the team turned its attention to the #2 and #3 engines, which were pre-oiled and had their sparkplugs serviced prior to an anticipated engine run on Saturday.
I returned Saturday afternoon to witness testing of the #2 and #3 engines. Dave Cobaugh had joined the crew, which was busy installing and torqueing spark plugs on the engines. Intermittent rain showers had slowed the group's progress but at 6pm Tim gave the 'thumbs up' to begin testing. As so often happens, the #3 engine had other ideas and, despite all of the crew’s efforts, refused to start. The consensus of opinion was that a faulty induction vibrator was causing the problem and attention moved to the #2 engine, which started without difficulty and ran for about 10 minutes. By this time it was getting dark and Tim decided to pre-oil the #1 engine to have it ready for testing on Sunday along with the balky #3 engine. While I wasn’t able to return on Sunday, Jase reported that the #1, #2 and #3 engines all ran well and will only require a bit of fine tuning before being deemed flightworthy.
The group broke camp on Monday and efforts will resume in late October, with Tim hoping to fly the airplane to Walterboro in November. It will be parked adjacent to N500EJ to facilitate the transfer of the interior, installation of the ADS-B transponder and completion of other necessary work prior to it going to the paint shop. N9015Q will be painted in the same colors as N500EJ, retain the name 'Spirit of Freedom' and be re-registered N500EJ. The group’s mission will remain the same and Tim hopes to debut the airplane at the 2021 Sun ‘n Fun airshow.
The loss of N500EJ combined with the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the organization hard financially. BAHF earns a significant portion of its annual revenue from attending airshows and no events means no revenue. With many folks out of work, there was also less donations coming in. The pandemic has made it difficult for volunteers to travel and support the work that needs to be accomplished to complete the airplane swap. Tim did note that there was a silver lining to the current situation…the organization plans on using everything they’ve learned during the past 26 years and applying it to making the new 'Spirit of Freedom' an even better flying exhibit. BAHF needs your help in raising the $125,000 required to get the aircraft ready for the 2021 airshow season and has initiated a GoFundMe fundraiser. The maintenance and operation of these old Propliners is very expensive so please consider donating to this very worthy cause!
C-54 Propeller Swap Underway – October 4, 2020
The Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation (BAHF) issued the following statement on October 2nd regarding its efforts to replace C-54 N500EJ, which was severely damaged by a tornado earlier this year. 'A Foundation maintenance crew was dispatched to Walterboro, South Carolina last week to remove the four propellers from our damaged C-54. This was completed and the props were transported to New Smyrna Beach, Florida for installation on the new C-54D, N9015Q. That is currently underway as I type this. We are swapping the propellers because the props on N500EJ are in compliance with a time inspection Airworthiness Directive, while the ones on N9015Q are out of compliance. In addition, more of the displays and parts are being removed from the damaged 'Spirit' for installation in the new C-54D.'
'Even with this great progress so far, we are still a long way from our fundraising goal. To date, we’ve raised around $20,000 towards the goal of $125,000 to cover this difficult transition. To all those who helped out with your generous contributions, Thank You!! We wouldn’t be able to endure this unfortunate situation without you! If you’d like to join the ranks of those who are ensuring the future of our 'Mission of History, Education and Remembrance', you can help in one of these ways.'
PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org
Or send your contribution to:
Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation
PO Box 782
Farmingdale, NJ 07727
For additional information about the project, check out my August 26, 2020 report.
Details Emerge Regarding History of Scroggins Aviation Cockpit Section – September 27, 2020
It didn’t take too long for additional information to surface regarding Doug Scroggins 'mystery' cockpit section. Graham Robson had photographed the cockpit during visits to the Aviation Warehouse in Adelanto, California and had always been curious as to its identity. With its identity now revealed, Graham did some research and found out that United Airlines DC-7 N6305C had been involved in a wheels-up landing on a foamed runway at Los Angeles International Airport on October 31, 1957. No one was injured and the aircraft was repaired and put back into service until its 1963 retirement from the airline. Graham forwarded a photo of the 1957 landing incident and some photos he had taken at the Aviation Warehouse in March 2017. He also forwarded a link to a very interesting YouTube video of the landing the ASN Report on the incident. As it turns out, the aircraft has a very interesting history and many thanks to Graham for his help in uncovering these details.
Mystery Cockpit Section Identified – September 26, 2020
A few years back Doug Scroggins rescued an old Douglas cockpit section from being scrapped. Doug owns Scroggins Aviation Mockup & Effects, which specializes in providing aviation mock-ups and sets to the motion picture and television industry. Doug immediately knew that the cockpit had been used on a motion picture project because of the removable front and side panels used for positioning cameras. Until recently, what he didn’t know was whether it was a DC-4, DC-6 or DC-7 aircraft since they essentially have the same forward fuselage. Last week Doug was at his Mojave, California facility and, after a bit of searching, he found an ID plate confirming its identity as DC-7 Ship #478. This aircraft was delivered to United Airlines as N6305C (c/n 44269) "Mainliner Hollywood" on May 27, 1954 and, after a relatively short career with the airline, was sold to BMR Aviation in 1963 and scrapped in Ontario, California a short time later. Doug is seeking additional information regarding the cockpit's history and what studios and/or films it may have been used in. Once more of its history is known, he plans on restoring it and hopes to eventually loan it to a museum for display. Doug just recently placed an F-4 Phantom cockpit he used in the 2016 film 'Sully' to the Tillamook Air Museum.
New Smyrna Beach Airport Visit – September 25, 2020
My wife and I visited New Smyrna Beach last week for her belated birthday celebration. While she was off getting a massage and some beauty treatments at a local spa, I had a few hours to visit New Smyrna Beach Airport. The airport is home to American Aero Services but I also wanted to photograph former Florida Air Transport DC-7BF N381AA. Danny Perna and his brother Chip acquired the aircraft from Florida Air Transport in 2012 and had it disassembled and moved from Opa-locka Airport to NSB Airport where it was reassembled for a planned airport restaurant. Things didn’t go to plan with the local authorities and the project was scrapped with the aircraft being parked in front of Danny’s Epic Aviation Flight School at the airport. The DC-7 was recently moved onto the airport proper and parked on a remote ramp behind police headquarters. This can’t be a good sign and the future of this aircraft is definitely not looking too good.
Next stop was the American Aero hangar with its interesting collection of warbirds. Parked outside on the grass was DC-4/C-54 N9015Q. As reported on August 26, 2020, the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation (BAHF) recently signed a purchase agreement to replace C-54E N500EJ that was severely damaged by a tornado in April of this year. The aircraft appears to be in good condition and the first order of business will be to replace the time-expired propellers with ones salvaged from N500EJ. Also parked outside was the fuselage of an unmarked bare metal PBY that, with the help of Nigel Hitchman, I was able to identify as Canso A N983CF. The Collings Foundation planned on restoring the aircraft but it was later set aside when the foundation acquired PBY-5A PH-PBY 'Karel Doorman' from the Dutch organization 'Stichting Exploitatie Catalina PBY.' This aircraft had been based in The Netherlands for 25+ years and was ferried to the U.S. in May 2019. For more information about this PBY, check out Ruud Leeuw’s excellent website. The hangars housed a number of interesting aircraft undergoing maintenance, most of which were owned by the Collings Foundation.
PBY-5A N459CF – former PH-PBY 'Karel Doorman'
B-24J N224J 'Witchcraft'
B-25N 44-28932/N3476G 'Tondelayo'
G-21A Goose N985R
If you ever find yourself in New Smyrna Beach, a visit to American Aero Services is highly recommended. Owner Gary Norville welcomes visitors and hosts at least one open house a year where the public is invited to tour the hangar and ramps.
Museum Acquires Wendover C-54 – September 24, 2020
The Historic Wendover Airfield Museum announced on September 22, 2020 that it had acquired former firebomber C-54/DC-4 N8502R T65, which has been parked at Wendover for 10+ years. "We are excited to announce that Historic Wendover Airfield has been able to acquire a C-54E 44-9141, which was actually delivered to the US Navy as an R5D. The plane arrived in Wendover after having been retired from Forest Service fire fighting. It was destined to be flown to Alaska where she was intended to haul fuel in the back country but the museum has been able to give her a new home! This is big for us as the C-54 played a huge role in the 509th Composite Group operations while they were based in Wendover. We plan on displaying her as a 320th Troop Carrier Squadron plane and to keep it in a state that will allow for a return to flight in the future when the museum has the funds to operate a four engine transport. If you get the chance come on out and check the plane out!"
The museum posted a video on its Facebook page, which provides some background on the aircraft and the museum’s plans. Wendover's dry climate made it a good place to store the C-54 and, from the video and 2018 photos, it appears to be in good condition. For additional info, check out the museum’s website and Del Mitchell's Lonely and Windswept article on this website.
Painting of Delta Flight Museum DC-7B Nearing Completion - September 23, 2020
The painting of DC-7B N4887C is nearing completion in Atlanta. Wayne James posted the following photos and report today on the 'Airliners from the Past' Facebook Group page. "Almost ready to come out of paint at Delta Tech Ops in ATL. Soon to be on static display at the Delta Flight Museum. This DC-7B was originally purchased and operated by Delta. This project was already funded pre-COVID".
For more info about this exciting project, check out the Delta Flight Museum website. For more info on efforts to prepare for the ferry flight from Phoenix to Atlanta and arrival in Atlanta, scroll down to 2019 posts on this page. Many thanks to Wayne for sharing his photos and report.
BAHF Replaces Tornado Damaged C-54 – August 26, 2020 - UPDATED August 30, 2020
The Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation announced today that it has signed a purchase agreement with Island Air Transport/Loren (Lynn) Florey for the acquisition of DC-4/C-54D N9015Q, which has been based at New Smyrna Beach Airport, Florida for a number of years. N9015Q will replace C-54E N500EJ, which was severely damaged by a tornado on April 13, 2020 in Walterboro, South Carolina. While the group would have preferred to repair N500EJ, it wasn’t economically feasible and the decision was made to acquire a replacement aircraft with proceeds from the insurance settlement. As part of the settlement, BAHF will be allowed to strip N500EJ of her engines, props and other useful spare parts, which should go a long way to keep the new airplane airworthy for many years. It’s interesting to note that Lynn’s father flew missions during the Berlin Airlift as a USAF pilot. For more information about the tornado, check out the April 13, 2020 and April 16, 2020 posts on this website.
For more information about the group’s plans, check out the latest newsletter. BAHF needs your help in raising the $125,000 required to get the aircraft ready for the 2021 airshow season and has initiated a GoFundMe page. The maintenance and operation of these old Propliners is very expensive so please consider donating to this very worthy cause!
Namibian DC-6B Acquired by Nighthawk Air Systems – August 22, 2020 - UPDATED September 21, 2020
James MacIvor announced today that Nighthawk Air Systems has acquired DC-6B V5-NCG c/n 45564, which is the last of 704 DC-6 type aircraft produced by Douglas Aircraft. It has been stored at Eros Airport in Windhoek, Namibia since 2010 and was advertised for sale by CB Aviation of Ogden, Utah in the August 2016 issue of Trade-A-Plane for $1.245M. MacIvor says he plans on returning the aircraft to an airworthy condition and ferrying it to Zuehl Airport in Marion, Texas.
I first became aware of this aircraft in April 2015 when Keith Gaskell sent me a report and photos about his March 2015 visit to Eros Airport. Keith’s report was published in the August 2015 issue of Air Classics and I’ve included it here..."I visited Eros Airport in Windhoek, Namibia in March 2015 and forwarded this report about the uncertain future of DC-6B V5-NCG. This aircraft was the last of 704 DC-6 series aircraft produced by Douglas and was delivered to Jugoslovenski Aerotransport (JAT) in November 1958 as YU-AFB. Along with sistership DC-6B YU-AFA, it served the airline until being transferred to the Yugoslavian Air Force in July 1966. Both aircraft were donated to the Zambian Air Force in 1975, where they served until being retired in the late 1980’s and parked in Lusaka. They were purchased in 1992 by pilot and entrepreneur Chris Schutte, who ferried them from Lusaka to Windhoek. The aircraft were registered V5-NCF and V5-NCG, with the latter placed in storage. V5–NCF was restored and went into service with Namibia Commercial Aviation (NCA) in 1995 flying pleasure flights around southern Africa for about three years. After a period of storage at Windhoek, it was sold to The Flying Bulls in 2000 and ferried to Salzburg, Austria where it underwent an amazing restoration. Registered N996DM, it is currently operated on pleasure flights throughout Europe for the Red Bull energy drink company."
"Chris used the proceeds from the sale of V5-NCF to restore V5-NCG and it entered service with NCA in March 2001 flying tourists from Eros Airport in Windhoek. The aircraft’s interior can accommodate up to 60 passengers in spacious seating and includes a full galley and very impressive burnt-on-leather animal art displays on bulkheads throughout the cabin. While demand for the flights remained healthy, big cost increases in fuel, airport handling, parking and insurance along with additional regulations substantially degraded the viability of the operation. Chris was in the process of planning a charter to Australia when he passed away suddenly in November 2010. The aircraft has remained idle since then and, unless a suitable buyer can be found to fly it out of Eros, it will probably be dismantled. Due to the hot and dry conditions in Namibia and continued regular maintenance, the aircraft remains in excellent condition. What makes V5-NCG very special is that it has survived with its original 1950’s era passenger interior intact. There are very few DC-6s that can make that claim, with only V5-NCG and sistership N996DM being airworthy and not on display in a museum."
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out and what MacIvor’s plan is for the aircraft. He already has C-118A N578AS stored at the airport in Marion along with the fuselage of a former USMC VIP VC-118B BuNo 128427. Many thanks to Keith for his report and photos.
UPDATE - Check out this September 21st Leeham News report
with comments from Jim MacIvor regarding the project.
Fairbanks DC-6A House Project – July 29, 2020 - UPDATED August 4, 2020
DC-6A N12347 has been a fixture on the Old Steese Highway north of Fairbanks for many years. I first heard about it during my first trip to Alaska in 2005 but it wasn’t until 2011 that I found and photographed it for the first time. During my May 2019 visit to Fairbanks it was still parked on the side of the road without wings and appeared much the same as it did back in 2011. It was always a mystery to me why someone would have gone through the trouble of moving it there and Jacob Naber finally shed some light on this little mystery in his July 30, 2020 Facebook post. "Work has finally started on my dad's 1953 DC-6 N12347. After 17 years sitting up here in the hills were finally getting to her. She was put on pilings a few weeks ago. And within this last week we've put a wing back on along with motors and some ridiculously bent props. This old girl is getting converted into a house by my dad." Jacob also included some recent photos.
I wish Jacob and his father luck in this endeavor and look forward to seeing the final project during my next visit to Alaska, which hopefully will be in 2021. Many thanks to Jacob for sharing his photos.
Fred Barnes sent me a photo of the aircraft taken in Anchorage, Alaska where it was being prepared for the fish hauling season on May 4, 1986. At the time the aircraft was owned by Aerolaska.
DC-7C Engine Cowling Man Cave Centerpiece – July 29, 2020
Aviation writer and photographer Graham Robson recently began the restoration of a DC-7C engine cowling that he plans on making the centerpiece of his new man cave. "After 10 years in my garage, I decided it's time to start a restoration of sorts, of a R-3350 cowl given to me by Woody Grantham from one of his DC-7s that were scrapped in 2006 or 7. With a large double garage, and only one car, at the end of my garden, I've decided to convert one side of the garage into an office/den and have the cowling, with spinner (from a P-2V, so R3350 and four bladed prop) inset, with led lights inside, as the back part of the office."
While working on the project, Graham uncovered evidence which seems to lend credibility to Woody’s suspicion that it was from DC-7C N90804. "Woody said he thought it could have been from N90804 as the bits were still around after it was cut up in 2006. Well, today, while working on the cowl, I discovered what look like patches from damage…..I wonder, whether, this really was one of the cowls on the aircraft when it had the lucky escape from the Polisario rebels that shot at it? Not exactly sure that type of projectile it was, but if it had a proximity fuse and detonated close by, sending shrapnel out, this could be the aftermath?"
N90804 was one of two T&G Aviation DC-7Cs hit by missiles fired by Polisario Front rebel soldiers on June 8, 1988, while on a locust spraying contract in Africa. After being hit by the missile, the #1 engine departed the aircraft resulting in the aircraft making an emergency landing at Sidi Ifni in Morocco. N284 was flying in a loose formation with N90804 and was also struck by a missile causing it to crash with the tragic loss of all five crewmembers. The soldiers apparently thought the two aircraft were Moroccan C-130s. The DC-7C was repaired and flown back to Arizona and stored for a number of years before the nose section was chopped off and the remaining aircraft scrapped.
DC-7B Arrives in Medford for Start of Final Fire Season – July 26, 2020
As reported by this website on April 12, 2020 will see the end of DC-7 firebomber operations by Madras, Oregon based Erickson Aero Tanker. DC-7B N838D Tanker #60 arriving at Medford, Oregon on July 20th to begin its final season of fighting wildfires for the State of Oregon. This marks the final chapter of the DC-7’s remarkable firefighting career going back over 40 years. The DC-7 is still a formidable firefighter with its 3,000 gallon retardant tank but the powers-to-be want jet powered equipment and they are not to be denied. Erickson owns three DC-7’s, with N401US Tanker #62 on contract with the State of Oregon in 2019 and N6553C Tanker #66 stored for the past few years. Both are parked at company headquarters in Madras, Oregon awaiting an uncertain future. Unfortunately, Propliners that can’t earn their keep tend to be cut up. Hopefully at least one of the DC-7s can be added to the Erickson Aircraft Collection, which is housed at Madras Municipal Airport.
Airworthy & Near-Airworthy DC-4s – July 5, 2020 - UPDATED September 13, 2021
From time to time the question comes up as to how many "active" DC-4s remain? Or, stated a bit different, how many "airworthy" examples remain? The answer all depends on how one defines "active" or "airworthy." There is probably only one DC-4 that flies regularly and that is Alaska Air Fuel’s N96358. There are at least four that could be considered "airworthy" including N96358, Florida Air Transport N460WA, South African Airways Historic Flight ZS-BMH and Buffalo Airways N55CW. In addition, there are another 21 aircraft that can be considered "near-airworthy" and "capable of being restored to an airworthy condition". Here’s my list of these aircraft with a photo of each. If anyone has some additional aircraft that should be added to the list, please email me.
N96358 – Alaska Air Fuel – written off after being severely damaged during a runway overrun incident at Yakataga Airport, Alaska on Saturday October 10, 2020 N460WA – Florida Air Transport – airworthy and based at Castle Airport on an oil dispersant contract ZS-BMH – South African Airways Historic Flight/Skyclass Aviation – stored at Rand Airport, South Africa after Skyclass Aviation ceased operations
N55CW/C-GBPA – Buffalo Airways – during February/March 2020 the aircraft was made airworthy at Keystone Airpark, FL for an anticipated ferry flight back to Red Deer, Canada – the COVID-19 pandemic shut the US-Canada border and the flight is on hold N9015Q – acquired by the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation in August 2020 to replace N500EJ, which was damaged in a tornado. Re-registered N500EJ and currently airworthy N44914 – Save the Skymaster – undergoing a slow but steady restoration at North Weald Airfield, England with the ambitious goal of making the aircraft airworthy once again
N3054V – Alaska Air Fuel – repaired and replaced N96358 after that aircraft was written off in a landing incident - currently airworthy ZS-AUB – South African Airways Historic Flight/Skyclass Aviation – stored at Rand Airport, South Africa after Skyclass Aviation ceased operations N438NA – Brooks Air Fuel – stored at Fairbanks Intl Airport on the Brooks Fuel ramp since ferry flight from Arizona to Alaska in August 2010 – moved to another location on the airport in early 2020
N51802 – Alaska Air Fuel – stored in Fairbanks, AZ for 10+ years on the Brooks Fuel ramp and recently acquired by Alaska Air Fuel – moved to another location at the airport - plans for aircraft unknown N8502R – Brooks Fuel – stored at Wendover Airport, UT for many years – appears to be in reasonable condition N500EJ – Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation – was airworthy and on airshow circuit until severely damaged by a tornado in April 2020 and written off.
C-GCTF #58 – Buffalo Airways – stored at Hay River, NWT in good condition after being retired after the 2015 fire season C-FBAP #15 – Buffalo Airways – stored at Hay River, NWT in good condition after being retired after the 2015 fire season C-GBNV #56 – Buffalo Airways – stored at Red Deer, AB in good condition
CP-1207 – Fri Reyes/Servicio Aereo Santiago – stored in La Paz, Bolivia where it has been undergoing an on-again/off-again restoration for the past three years to restore the aircraft to an airworthy condition ZS-AUA – The Flying Dutchman Foundation – was undergoing a c-check at Rand Airport, South Africa but work has paused – the goal of the foundation is to restore the aircraft to an airworthy condition VH-EAY – Historical Aircraft Restoration Foundation (HARS) – undergoing a long term restoration with the goal of restoring the aircraft to an airworthy condition – painted NSW colors on right side fuselage and Qantas colors on the left – here’s a link to Phil Vabre's AirHistory.net photo of the aircraft's left side Qantas colors
C-FIQM #57 – Buffalo Airways – stored at Hay River, NWT in good condition C-FBAJ #02 – Buffalo Airways – stored at Hay River, NWT in good condition after being retired as a firebomber after the 2013 fire season – #3 engine missing – September 2014 C-FBAK #13 – Buffalo Airways – stored at Hay River, NWT in good condition – #2 engine missing – September 2014
N67024 – Airborne Support Inc. (ASI) – stored at Houma, Louisiana for a number of years - Survived Hurricane Ida’s 150mph winds when the storm struck Houma on August 29, 2021
WHILE IT'S TECHNICALLY POSSIBLE TO RESTORE THE FOLLOWING AIRCRAFT, IN MY OPINION IT’S HIGHLY UNLIKELY THAT ANY WILL EVER FLY AGAIN.
ZS-PAI – Phoebus Apollo – stored at Rand Airport, South Africa for 10+ years C-GBAJ #14 – Buffalo Airways – stored at Hay River, NWT in basic Aero Union colors – sitting on tail with no engines – September 2014 C-FBAM – Buffalo Airways – stored at Hay River, NWT in basic NASA colors - sitting on tail with only #1 engine installed – September 2014
C-GPSH – Buffalo Airways – stored at Hay River, NWT - sitting on tail with only #4 engine installed – September 2014
DC-7B Destroyed by Arsonists at Gila River Memorial Airport – June 12, 2020
Well, it finally happened. DC-7B N4889C was set ablaze by arsonists and destroyed. The DC-7B is at least the third aircraft to be torched at the abandoned airport, formally known at Chandler Memorial Airfield and home to T&G Aviation/International Air Response for many years. N4889C was left behind when IAR moved out in 2006 and was slated to go to a museum. While the tribal authorities seem intent on writing $125 trespassing tickets to enthusiasts and other curious visitors on weekends, they seem powerless to stop what goes on when the sun goes down. Royal S. King's photo shows the utter devastation as the result of the fire.
Some took the time to create a very detailed 13 minute video illustrating the state of the aircraft in December 2019. She was quite the mess but was essentially whole and could have definitely been restored for static display.
Additional Photos of DC-6B Arriving in Norway – June 6, 2020
Richard Toft captured the arrival of DC-6B N151 at Sola Airport in a series of photos and has allowed me to share them on this website. Many thanks to Richard for allowing the use of his photos.
Initial Cleanup of Brooks Fuel Compound Complete – June 5, 2020
Levy Ballard reports that the initial cleanup of the Brooks Fuel compound at Fairbanks International Airport has been completed. As reported on April 21, 2020, 1st Strike Asset Management was contracted to clean up the facility, which included three DC-4 hulks, a nearly complete DC-4, aircraft engines and a multitude of parts and equipment. All of these items were offered for sale on an on-line auction with bids due April 10th. DC-4 N51802 was sold to Alaska Air Fuel and has been moved to a nearby airport location; N67018 was towed to the Everts ramp for temporary storage; and the remaining two aircraft, N99212 and N90201, were expected to be moved off the compound last weekend. Rumor has it that one of the two had already been sold to a company that plans on submerging it for use as a diving attraction with the other outfitted for use as a B&B. Only time will tell if these plans come to fruition. Now that the initial cleanup has been completed and the equipment removed, the state will perform a hazardous material remediation of the site.
DC-6B Arrives Safely in Norway After 15+ Hour Flight – June 2, 2020
After making a diversion to Bergen for a low pass down the airport's runway, N151 turned south and completed the final leg of its epic Alaska to Norway journey. Following a final flyby at Stavanger's Sola Airport, the aircraft's flying career came to an end at 3:26pm local time when it safely landed at the airport. Mikey McBryan created a very nice YouTube Video documenting the aircraft's refueling stop in Yellowknife and its arrival in Stavanger.
DC-6B Makes Early Morning Departure From Fairbanks – June 1, 2020
DC-6B N151 departed Fairbanks this morning at 3:28am local time for the 4½ hour flight to Yellowknife, NWT but was forced to return to Fairbanks due to a minor mechanical issue. The aircraft arrived back in Fairbanks at 4:23am and the problem was quickly rectified. Departing again at 6:38am, the aircraft arrived in Yellowknife after a 4 hour/40 minute flight. After taking on fuel in Yellowknife, the aircraft is scheduled to depart for the long nonstop flight to Stavanger, Norway. Karen Wing forwarded the photo of N151’s nose art, which was created by Ron Klemm and applied to the aircraft yesterday.
After being on the ground in Yellowknife for about 3½ hours, the aircraft and crew departed for Stavanger at 3:42pm local time. Expected arrival at Stavanger is about 2:00pm local time tomorrow. Anthony Jarvis was on the ground at Yellowknife to witness the event and provided the following report and photos via Facebook. "Wow....talk about a coincidence......following my post earlier about DC-6 C-GPEG, along comes N151 out of the murk here in Yellowknife transiting from Alaska to Norway and Museum. With it is the Norwegian Iditarod Dog Sled team. Joe suggested they walk the dogs while refueling and Buffalo crews helped out. For all of you on the other side of the pond, they will be departing and going direct, 14hrs. to Norway. Here are some pics!"
Many thanks to Anthony for his report and for allowing the use of his photos.
Norway Bound DC-6B Painted in Braathen-SAFE Colors – May 31, 2020
In preparation for its delivery flight to the Flyhistorisk Museum Sola in Stavanger, Norway, DC-6B N151 was painted in 1960’s era Braathen-SAFE colors. It was recently rolled out of the Everts North Hangar at Fairbanks International Airport and looked absolutely stunning. If all goes to plan, the aircraft will depart Fairbanks for Norway on Monday June 1st. Being of Norwegian heritage (parents immigrated to the United States), I have visited Stavanger on a number of occasions and look forward to seeing the aircraft during my next visit, which hopefully will be in 2021.
DC-6B Delivery To Norway Scheduled for June 1-2, 2020 – May 28, 2020
The Flyhistorisk Museum Sola in Stavanger, Norway announced on its website on May 27th that the long delayed arrival of DC-6B N151 at the museum is expected to happen on June 2, 2020. As reported on March 15, 2020 and September 16, 2019 Everts Air Cargo has recently retired the aircraft after many years of flying cargo around Alaska and the former Braathens-SAFE aircraft was acquired by the museum. Here’s the article translated to English by yours truly using Google Translator.
DC-6B Expected to Finally Arrive at Sola Airport!
If all goes according to plan, DC-6B N151 will depart Alaska for Norway on June 1, 2020, with an expected arrival at Stavanger’s Sola Airport Sola on June 2nd. The history of this aircraft has stirred national and international interest, with the latest mention of it being made in the New York Times on May 26, 2020.
The Jær Museum and Flyhistorisk Museum Sola (FMS) have worked for a year to get the aircraft from Alaska to Norway. Prior to this, a group of former Braathen employees, led by Jon Stokke, worked on the project for several years.
The Douglas DC-6B was a central part of Braathens SAFE’s aircraft fleet from 1962 to 1973. It was used on charter operations around the world and also on the airline’s domestic network in Norway. N151 was operated by Everts Air Cargo in Alaska for many years and, during his long career, has been home based on three different continents.
The “Ludv. G. Braathen's Fund for the Promotion of Norwegian Aviation” allocated funds for the purchase of the aircraft and the Flight History Museum Sola initiated action to raise funds for a ten-year maintenance fund.
The original agreement with Everts Air Cargo was that the aircraft would fly over to Norway in November 2019. When the owner of the company, Robert Everts, needed a plane for missions in Alaska during the fall, he asked for the suspension of the ferry flights until March 2020. The Jær Museum accepted this, with the deadline for delivery before 1 April 2020.
In mid-March the corona virus knocked out normal interaction between countries around the world and it became clear that the aircraft could not be delivered within the agreed deadline. In addition, the dollar exchange rate rose to a level far beyond the funds that the Braathens Fund had allocated for the purchase. Without a new specific delivery date, there was great uncertainty about the original financing plan and what funds would be available. As a result, the purchase had to be canceled.
Iditarod champion Thomas Wærner became aware of the situation regarding the aircraft. After winning the prestigious Alaskan Iditarod sled dog race March 2020, he suffered a coronary and wasn’t able to return to Oppland where his wife and five children were waiting. He now saw his chance to return home, and brought along one of his sponsors, Aker BioMarine. In addition, the municipality of Sola provided financial support for the aircraft. With these funds added to the Ludv. G. Braathens Fund, it was now possible to plan the flights from Alaska to Stavanger!
The aircraft is scheduled to arrive at Sola mid-day on June 2. There will be a reception for the aircraft, aircrew and owner Robert Everts, Thomas Wærner and the dogs inside Avinor's area with invited guests. Due to the corona virus and resulting infection control rules, space is limited and unfortunately it will not be possible for the event to be open to the general public.
The current schedule and route looks like this, but changes can occur and will be updated continuously:
The scheduled departure from Fairbanks, Alaska on June 1st is between 3:00am and 4:00am local time.
There will be a stop in Yellowknife, Canada. The flight time to Yellowknife will be approximately 4½ hours.
If weather conditions are favorable, the plan is to fly non-stop to Stavanger with a flight time of between 15½ and 16 hours.
If all goes to plan, the arrival at Sola will be approximately 12 noon on June 2nd.
The flight’s progress can be monitored on Flight Radar 24 using using the call sign N151.
The aircraft will remain at Sola Airport for a few months and then will be relocated to the Flyhistorisk Museum Sola to become part of the museum’s permanent collection. It will be placed on display outside of the museum with plans to have an exhibit inside the aircraft for museum visitors.
Propliner Nose Sections Stored at Mojave Air and Space Port – May 8, 2020
Scroggins Aviation Mockups and Effects provides aviation props for the motion picture and television industry. While based out of Las Vegas, Nevada, the company maintains a storage facility at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. In addition to a multitude of jet airliner equipment, including an intact CV880 and CV990, the company currently stores the following forward fuselage sections at the facility: DC-7, DC-7C, CV240, two CV340s, DC-6, KC-97 and F-27.
Some of the aircraft were involved in accidents like CV340 N358SA, which crash landed in a field in Spokane, Washington due to fuel starvation. The forward fuselage was salvaged and still carries the name “Borinquen Belle.” Others like former Trans Florida Airlines CV240 N1020C and DC-7C N5902 were scrapped and the forward fuselage saved. CV340 N865TA and DC-7 N4874C were recently acquired from a salvage yard in El Mirage, California. Company owner Doug Scroggins also recently acquired a former United Airliners DC-6 nose section from the salvage yard and is planning on moving it to Mojave in the very near future. Doug is also looking at salvaging the nose sections from DC-7B N4889C at Gila River Memorial Airport in Arizona and CV240 N1022C at Orlando-Apopka Airport in Florida.
Brooks Fuel Auction Update – April 21, 2020
As reported on March 27th and April 11th the State of Alaska has evicted Brooks Fuel from its facility at Fairbanks International Airport (FAI) and hired 1st Strike Asset Management to clean up the facility. An on-line auction was recently completed with three DC-4 hulks, a nearly complete DC-4, aircraft engines and a multitude of parts and equipment being offered. While the DC-4 hulks will most likely be scrapped with the fuselages possibly being hauled off to become someone’s storage shed, DC-4 N51802 was nearly complete and was acquired by DC-4 operator Alaska Air Fuel at the auction. At this time, it’s not known if the aircraft will harvested for its parts or made airworthy and flown to the company’s headquarters at Wasilla Airport. Also of interest, DC-4 N438NA and DC-7C N90251 were recently noted safely parked outside the Everts North Hangar at the airport and were not part of the auction. It will be interesting to see what happens to these airplanes. Photos of the three aircraft are from June 2011.
Firebombing in a Super DC-4 – April 16, 2020
Jim Buckwalter recently sent me an email with some photos and an account of his 1995 experience flying co-pilot on ARDCO DC-4 firebomber N406WA. "I had the pleasure of being copilot on C-54/DC-4 N406WA, Tanker 119 during the summer of 1995. The aircraft was based at Fox Field, Lancaster, California from June 1st to December 12th of that year. I don’t have any documentation but the folks at ARDCO told me that T-119 was one of two DC-4s converted to R2600 engines by Carolina Aircraft. I was also told that the other Super 4 disappeared over the North Atlantic. The R2600’s didn’t provide much of a performance gain but provided an economic advantage because they were in abundance at the time. In my experience, the R2600’s were reliable. They were low compression, low max RPM (2400 for takeoff) and low manifold pressure (46” for takeoff). The stock R2000 was 2700 RPM and 51” MP for takeoff. The R2600’s just loafed along. I once followed T-119 out of the Coolidge, Arizona tanker base in stock C-54 N460WA T-151. Both airplanes were loaded and we had no trouble keeping up with T-119, although it did climb a little better than the stock C-54. While the engines were reliable and we had no failures during the 220 hours I flew it on contract, the exhaust system was prone to cracking. The R2600’s had a collector ring much like the R2000 engine. A different system was designed and installed in an effort to improve the cracking issues."
"On the first photo, notice the different exhaust system which was similar to a DC-6 system. Behind the four visible pipes were two or three other pipes with two cylinders sharing a stack. This system sounded completely different. When power was pulled back on landing, it sounded like a machine gun with all the popping and after firing. It was unusual and unique. Unfortunately, this system did not improve the cracking problems and the original system was reinstalled. It was a very good sounding system. The spinners were from a Super Connie. ARDCO owner Gary Garret told me he installed them to improve cylinder cooling. Also, notice the old paint job."
"The second and third photos show T-119 in action dropping retardant on a fire in the Superstition Mountains during the 4th of July weekend. The tank held 2000 gallons of retardant and, at nine lbs a gallon, the total load weighed 18,000 lbs. There were eight doors that could be opened one at a time, in pairs, four at a time or all eight at once."
In closing, Jim noted that "Gary Garret was a great guy to work for.” I'd like to thank Jim for sharing his photos and story.
BAHF C-54 Update – April 16, 2020
BAHF VP Kevin Kearney reports that a crew successfully extradited C-54E “Spirit of America” from the hangar where it had landed during a violent storm a few nights ago. The trailing edge of the aircraft’s left wing had been impaled on the hangar’s iron structure while the tail was sitting atop the hangar. While there is lots of skin damage to the belly of the aircraft, the good news is that the horizontal stabilizer appears to be undamaged. Kevin also reports that the rear spar was damaged but appears to be repairable. All this is preliminary and a full inspection will be undertaken to determine the full extent of damage and what will be required to repair it. This is going to be an expensive endeavor and the BAHF needs your financial help. If you can, consider donating a part of your stimulus check to this worthy cause at http://www.spiritoffreedom.org/donate.html Photos by Shae Christine Elaine Leighland-Pence.
Congratulations to BAHF President Tim Chopp and the group of volunteers that managed to replace the organization’s original C-54E, which was destroyed by a tornado 18 months ago, with this beautiful aircraft. There is still much to do, which will require lots of money. Contributions can be made on the BAHF website. http://www.spiritoffreedom.org/donate.html
BAHF C-54 Damaged in Violent Storm – April 13, 2020
Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation (BAHF) C-54E N500EJ was damaged last night when it was tossed against a hangar at Lowcountry Regional Airport in Walterboro, SC. It was one of more than two dozen aircraft damaged when a violent storm system swept across South Carolina on Easter evening and Monday morning. BAHF Vice President Kevin Kearney reports that a crew is currently assessing the extent of aircraft damage and more information on its condition will be forthcoming. "Spirit of Freedom" was a familiar sight at airshows around the United States and hopefully the damage isn’t too extensive and can be repaired.
Official Statement Regarding the C-54 Tornado Damage - April 13, 2020
To our loyal and dedicated support group: It is with a heavy heart we announce our Douglas C-54, the Spirit of Freedom" was severely damaged early in the morning of Monday April 13, 2020 by tornados that ravaged the Carolinas causing wide spread destruction and loss of life. Our Douglas C-54 was parked at the Walterboro, SC airport on December 18, 2019 for the installation of a new Stratus Transponder to comply with the FAA mandate for transponders meeting the ADS-B requirements by January 1, 2020. Thanks to Swamp Fox Avionics at the Walterboro Airport, our C-54 is now in compliance. It is too early to assess the extent of the tornado damage, however, photographs reveal the leading edge of the right outerwing and the rear left center wing flap area received substantial damage. Due to the many restrictions now in place regarding the Covid19 virus epidemic, it will take some time to reach a full evaluation. Our concerns and prayers go out to the families who lost loved ones due to the tornado outbreak. A sincere thank you to everyone for your continued support over the years to the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation to help keep the Douglas C-54 and our Boeing C-97 flying on their missions of history, education, and remembrance about the great Berlin Airlift of 1948 and 1949.
If you want a way to help, as some have asked, go to http://www.spiritoffreedom.org/donate.html
Looks Like a 2020 Finale for Erickson DC-7 Firebombers – April 12, 2020
Barring a last minute change of heart by the State of Oregon, it appears that Hillsboro, Oregon based Erickson Aero Tanker will be retiring the DC-7 from its firebomber fleet at the end of the 2020 fire season. Erickson owns DC-7B N838D #60, DC-7 N401US #62 and DC-7 N6353C #66 and, while the USFS has banned the use of DC-7s, they have been used to fight fires in both California and Oregon on state owned land. California now also insists on jet-powered aircraft to fight fires in that state.
N401US #62 was on contract with Oregon in 2019 and it appears that N838D #60 will most likely have the honor of operating the final DC-7 type firefighting operation in 2020. Erickson has a small museum at the Madras Municipal Airport and hopefully at least one of the DC-7s can become part of the collection. The Erickson DC-7s are the last operational DC-7s and their retirement will probably mark the end of a remarkable 67 year era that began on November 29, 1953 when American Airlines introduced the type on its non-stop New York to Los Angeles service. Kudos to Butler Aircraft and Erickson for keeping them flying well into the 21st century. Many thanks to Roger Syratt and Marc Hookerman for allowing me to use their photos.
Brooks Fuel Property Auction Closes – April 11, 2020
As reported on March 27, 2020, 1st Strike Asset Management has been contracted by the State of Alaska to clean up the Brooks Fuel yard at Fairbanks International Airport prior to the state undertaking an environmental cleanup. The online auction (Lot 617 and Lot 618) was closed yesterday and included three DC-4 hulks (N67018, N99212, N90201); one nearly complete DC-4 (N51802); R2000, R3350 and R4360 engines; multiple pallets of hardware, tools and equipment; and an aircraft tug. There were lots of bids submitted for each of the pallets, 16 bids for N51802 and surprisingly two or three bids for each hulk. With the exception of the four aircraft, all items must be removed from the property no later than 5:00pm on April 16, when payment is due. The aircraft must be removed no later than May 8, 2020. For sure, it's the end of an era and I wish the state luck in their environmental cleanup!
Castle DC-4 Gets New Paint and Some TLC – April 10, 2020
Sean Keating visited Castle Airport in Atwater, California on January 23, 2020 and forwarded photos of Florida Air Transport (FAT) DC-4 N460WA. The aircraft is based at Castle on a standby dispersant contract and recently received a new camo paint job and some TLC. Former ARDCO DC-4 firebombers N460WA, N406WA and N9015Q were acquired by Florida Air Transport in 2010 and converted to freighters. Federal regulations (FAR Part 121, 125 and Part 135) severely limit the profitability of using DC-4s as freighters and N406WA and N9015Q were sold not too long after being acquired by FAT. (Note: N406WA was recently scrapped in San Juan and N9015Q is currently stored at New Smyrna Beach Airport in Florida.) N460WA was outfitted with tanks and spray booms in late 2011 and has been based at Castle on contract ever since then. In October 2013 the aircraft was painted in olive drab colors for the Berlin Airlift segment of the California Capital Airshow at Sacramento-Mather Airport. The sun shines bright in Atwater and when I visited Castle Airport in August 2018, the paint was fading and it was definitely time for new paint. The new paint scheme replicates the 1942 Air Transport Command colors with an olive drab fuselage and a neutral gray underside. While the aircraft is on a standby contract, this does not preclude participation in nearby airshows, just as long as the contract response time can be met. In addition to Sean’s photos, I’ve included photos going back to 2001 when the aircraft was an active firebomber with ARDCO, which was based at Ryan Field near Tucson, Arizona. Many thanks to Sean and Marc for the photos and Marc for details on the new paint scheme.
Here's a link to a September 2014 engine start video of the DC-4. It was most likely taken at Castle.
"Super" DC-4 Scrapped in San Juan – April 8, 2020
Former Jet One Express DC-4 N406WA was finally scrapped at San Juan International Airport 2½ years after making its final unplanned flight into a drainage ditch on September 20, 2017 during Hurricane Maria. The aircraft was probably the sole surviving "Super" DC-4, which had R2600 engines installed in place of the R2000 engine normally found on DC-4s.
The aircraft was one of three DC-4 firebombers operated by ARDCO during the 1990’s and early 2000’s. ARDCO owners Meegan and Gary Garrett sold the three aircraft to Florida Air Transport after the USFS abruptly terminated contracts on the entire large firebomber fleet (33 aircraft) on May 10, 2004, citing safety concerns. The ARDCO DC-4s had been meticulously maintained and were in immaculate condition when the USFS decision was made. As a "Super" DC-4, N406WA was the queen of the ARDCO fleet and was Meegan and Gary's personal ride during fire season. After being converted to a freighter by Florida Air Transport, N406WA make its way to Jet One Express, which used it to fly cargo around the Caribbean including delivering Holsum Bread from San Juan to St. Maarten and St. Thomas.
The DC-4 suffered a nose wheel collapse in San Juan on March 22, 2012 while taxiing to the cargo area after a long day of flying. The #2 and #3 engines and props were damaged along with damage to the nose gear doors. Jet One had suffered the loss of the company’s owner Uriel Bristol a week before when CV340 N153JR crashed shortly after taking off from San Juan. N406WA was parked in the weeds and essentially forgotten until Hurricane Maria finished off the aircraft. The DC-4 was reported to have severe wing corrosion as the result of being “abandoned” in San Juan and probably never would have flown again even if the hurricane had spared it. Anyhow, it’s a very sad end to a unique and beautiful aircraft.
State Cleaning Up Brooks Fuel Yard at Fairbanks Airport – March 27, 2020
The State of Alaska has apparently lost patience with the slow pace of cleanup at the Brooks Fuel yard at Fairbanks International Airport and has taken the lead on the effort. Levi Ballard reported on a Facebook post yesterday that: “The company I work for is selling four C-54s/DC-4s. The N-numbers are N51802, N67018, N99212, and N90201. These airplanes formerly belonged to Brooks Fuel here in Fairbanks, Alaska. An online auction is currently underway. We just started it yesterday, but there is a short amount of time to get the planes out of the yard. The State of Alaska has to do an environmental cleanup on the site. The aircraft belong to the State of Alaska. I don't know any of the details. All I know is that the company I work has been contracted to clean the yard up. I do know that Mr. Brooks was working on cleaning it up himself until about November.”
As for DC-7C N90201 and DC-4 N438NA, Levi reports: “At least one plane was towed down the runway to be stored at Evert's. Whether it was sold, or they are storing it for Mr. Brooks, I do not know. One of the Beech 18s ended up on Davis Road at a hostel towards the west end.”
While it saddens me, I’m not surprised to hear about this latest development. When I visited Fairbanks in May 2019 I had the opportunity to check out the yard from both the street and airside perspectives. Other than DC-4s N3054V and N96358, which were sold to Alaska Air Fuel in 2013, it appeared that the yard’s aircraft population was the same as when Brooks ceased operations in 2011 (see list below). As reported on October 30, 2019, DC-3 N95460 departed on October 29, 2019 and was observed being towed along the highway to nearby Chena Marina Airport. Hopefully for the time being the DC-7C and N438NA are safe, but prospects for the four remaining DC-4s appear dim. My guess is that they will most likely be scrapped.
Brooks Fuel – June 27, 2011
DC-4/C-54E – N96358 – sold to Alaska Air Fuel 2013
DC-4/C-54Q – N3054V – sold to Alaska Air Fuel 2013
DC-4/C-54G - N438NA – former NASA, stored in good condition
DC-4/C-54G – N51802 – stored in good condition
DC-4/C-54Q – N67018 – stored with faded USMC markings
DC-4/C-54D – N90201 – stored
DC-4/C-54D – N99212 – stored
DC-3 – N95460 – moved to Chena Marina Airport in October 2019
Beech C-45G – N114V – stored
Beech E18-S – N326W - stored
DC-7C – N90251 – stored
Everts DC-6B Delivery to Museum Delayed – March 15, 2020
As reported on September 16, 2019, Everts DC-6B N151 has been acquired by the Museum of Aviation History at Sola Airport in Stavanger, Norway. The delivery flight had been planned for late March 2020 but, with Norway essentially shutting its borders due to the worldwide corona virus pandemic, the flight has been postponed.
Health Issues Delay Buffalo Airways DC-4 Departure – March 15, 2020
As reported on February 18, 2020 Buffalo Airways DC-4 N55CW was being prepped by Ronnie McBryan for a ferry flight back to Canada from Florida's Keystone Airpark. On Thursday March 5, 2020 Chris Dilly and Todd Jennings were at Keystone to witness Ronnie perform engine runs on the DC-4. They noticed that Ronnie wasn’t feeling well and drove him to a fire station, where medics suspected that he was having a heart attack. Ronnie was transported to a hospital where it was determined that, while it wasn’t a heart attack, it was definitely a heart related issue. Admitted to the hospital, he underwent a surgical procedure that fixed the problem. After being discharged from the hospital, Ronnie returned to the airport and completed the engine runs. For more information, check out Mikey’s Plane Savers YouTube Video. Ronnie subsequently returned to Canada and the DC-4 ferry flight is on hold for now.
Northern Florida Propliner Tour – February 18, 2020
I hooked up with Irish enthusiasts Michael Kelly and Paul Birney on Febrary 17, 2019 for a quickie northern Florida Propliner tour. I think they must have brought some of their Irish weather with them because it was cloudy and foggy during the better part of the day. The sun didn’t come out until later that afternoon as I was driving home on I75 South.
Our first stop was Reynolds Airpark in Green Cove Springs, where a former U.S. Naval Research Lab NP-3C is stored less engines and other components. The aircraft was slated to go to the now-defunct museum at Keystone Airpark and has been stored at Reynolds for a number of years. Although we gave it a good try, we were not granted permission to get up close to the aircraft so we had to settle for some long lens photos. The airpark is a former U.S. Navy airfield and is adjacent to the St. Johns River near Jacksonville. The U.S. Navy built a large number of 1,500 foot piers into the river and tied up surplus ships there after WWII. A very large Space Shuttle fuel tank that was slated for the same museum was stored on its side in the waterfront area.
We had originally planned to visit MHD-Rockland at Keystone Airpark but they were closed because of the Presidents Day federal holiday. I knew that Ronnie McBryan was working on getting DC-4 N55CW ready for a flight back to Red Deer, Alberta so we decided to press on figuring that Ronnie wouldn’t be taking the day off. Sometimes you get lucky and we spent about an hour talking to Ronnie and photographing the DC-4 and five MHD-Rockland P-3Cs. These are former Australian aircraft that MHD acquired for the P-3 pilot training facility they are setting up at Keystone Airpark. For more information about this interesting project, check out my February 10, 2019 post on this website. Ronnie said that he arrived on January 7, 2020 and, while there's still lots to complete, he hoped to have the aircraft ready for the flight in a week or two.
Camp Blanding was the third stop on our agenda. Michael and Paul had heard that there was a DC-3 and some other aircraft there and, since it was only a short distance away, we decided to give it a try. Turns out that Camp Blanding Joint Training Center is an active military training base but luckily the aircraft were part of a museum located just outside the security gate. The DC-3 was actually C-47A BuNo 12436 and was in need of some TLC. It was marked as 100597 with both main tires flat and in need of a paint job. In addition to the C-47A, A-6E BuNo 155661 and A-7E BuNo 157503 were on display with a few helicopters and quite a bit of ground equipment. Both the A-6E and A-7E were also in need of some TLC.
Keystone Airpark DC-4 Returning to Canada – February 10, 2020
I confirmed today that Buffalo Airways DC-4 N55CW (C-GBPA) will soon be returning to Canada. The aircraft has been in the United States since at least 2011, when it was based at Punta Gorda, Florida on a standby dispersant contract. Ronnie McBryan has been at Keystone Airpark getting it ready so the flight probably isn't too far off. I suspect it's headed to Hay River, NWT to join Buffalo's fleet of stored DC-4s.
Video and Update on the Everts C-118B Landing Incident at Candle, AK – February 9, 2020
As reported on August 2, 2019, Everts Air Cargo C-118B N451CE was involved in a landing incident on August 1, 2019, when it struck a berm while on final approach to Candle, Alaska. Marc Hookerman recently posted an update and incredible video on Facebook. The video captures the entire incident, including the aircraft's final approach.
This video shows Everts Air Cargo C-118A (DC-6A) N451CE (s/n 43712) suffering a right main landing gear failure due to impact with gravel pilings while landing at the Candle No 2 Airstrip (AK75) in Alaska. The incident occurred on August 1, 2019. Like many mining airstrips in Alaska, Candle has uneven terrain, variable width throughout, short length, and has close-proximity obstacles such as containers, storage tanks, and vehicles. The video clearly shows the aircraft slightly behind the energy curve as the mains began to impact brush on short final and ultimately impact the gravel pilings causing structural failure of the right main landing gear. The aircraft was damaged beyond repair. Fortunately, there were no injuries. Operating into these airstrips is challenging. Everts Air Cargo/Fuel are consummate professionals and have extensive experience operating into unimproved airstrips. For more information, please read the NTSB preliminary accident report.
Marc told me that the aircraft had been salvaged for useful parts and that the remaining hulk would be scrapped. Many thanks to Marc for sharing the video and update.
Phoebus Apollo Carvair Update – January 9, 2019
Peter Brill recently visited Rand Airport in South Africa and had the opportunity to have an up close look at Phoebus Apollo Carvair 9Q-PAA. He posted the following photos and report on Facebook. "Latest fotos of Carvair 9Q-PAA at Rand. Technically she's much better than she looks. The owner of Phoebus Apollo is even contemplating restoring her eventually, I was told. So in the moment she not under threat. Thanks to Chris who has many flying hours on type and who opened her up for us."
Bill Dempsay’s DC-4s For Sale – December 30, 2019 (December 31, 2019 Update)
I noted on December 28th that the Buffalo Airways fleet of eleven DC-4s was for sale. In addition to these aircraft, Bill Dempsay has retired and announced that seven former Central Air Service DC-4s are also for sale. This daughter Say posted the following on Facebook back on November 1, 2019. While it would be wishful thinking to believe that all of these aircraft will find a good home, hopefully at least some will be saved from the scrapman.
DC-3, DC-4s, Mooney, P2 Neptune Plans and Old Truck for Sale
"After 60+ years in the aviation business, my father is retiring. His planes are now for sale. These are at Marana Regional Airport, just north of Tucson. Those he is not able to sell will be scrapped. If you can help save these beautiful birds, please contact me email@example.com and I'll get you the information you want. All will need a little work but will fly. Heck, that truck also runs."
"The DC-3 (C-47) is in Kansas along with a couple more DC-4s (C-54) not shown here. The tail numbers of these tanker planes shown are 147, 150, 109, and 111. The Neptune's tail number is N80232."
"What can one do with these planes? Use them as an awesome set or in a business in transportation, cargo, mile-high clubs, sightseeing, movie props, parts, storage, create a bunker, boot camp, train others to fly, resell for a profit, a very cool treehouse you rent out! Heck, even CNN has ideas. The sky's the limit."
The following aircraft are stored at Marana Regional Airport in Tucson, Arizona. DC-4’s N6816D #109, N96451 #111, N67040 #147, N67034 #150 and P-2 N80232. The photos were taken in June 2015.
The following aircraft were noted at Bill Dempsay’s farm in Rantoul, Kansas in July 2006. DC-4’s N816D #102, N96454 #105, N67061 #146 and DC-3 N200MX. In addition to these aircraft, C-131B N43941/53-7801 and DC-3 N37737/HB-ITD (without wings) were noted.
Bill's daughter Say responded to my December 30th email saying that none of the DC-4s been sold but there is interest in both the DC-3 and the Mooney. She said that Marana Regional Airport had raised the rent to over $30K per year on the land where the aircraft are stored, which precipitated Bill's decision to either sell or scrap them in place if they didn't sell. If new owners can't be found, Say expects the DC-4s to be scrapped in early 2020. Not a good outcome but given the $30K per year rent and limited prospects for the four aircraft, it's probably the only rational decision. Say also provided links to information and photos of each aircraft. From the photos she provided, it appears that the wingless DC-3 I photographed in July 2006 (N37737) is the DC-3 for sale and not N200MX.
Buffalo Airways DC-4 Fleet Advertised for Sale – December 28, 2019
If you’re in the market for a DC-4, Buffalo Joe McBryan might have a deal for you. The entire fleet, consisting of eleven aircraft, is currently advertised for sale on the Buffalo Airways website. The aircraft conditions range from parts aircraft to near-airworthy. CF-BAA #12 has been stored for many years in Yellowknife and is listed as a parts aircraft and N55CW #16 is currently stored at Keystone Heights Airport in Florida. The remaining aircraft are stored in Hay River, NWT. (Note: While C-GBNV #56 was recently noted in Red Deer, the website states that it is stored in Hay River.)
It sure would be nice for one or two of these aircraft to find a home at a museum or even perhaps flying fuel in Alaska!
Contact Joe McBryan at:
1.867.873.6112 or (fax) 1.867.873.8393
"Candy Bomber" Participates in Annual "Candy Drop" – December 24, 2019
The Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation’s (BAHF) C-54 "Spirit of Freedom" made its yearly flight to Dare County Airport in Manteo, N.C., where it participated the 20th annual “Candy Drop” festivities. Hundreds of people turned out for the December 15th event, which featured the C-54 and 99 year old Colonel Gail S. Halvorsen, who became known as the "Candy Bomber" during the Berlin Airlift. He got that name after dropping candy to German children from the cockpit of his aircraft while on approach to Berlin’s Tempelhof Airport. The C-54 was open for viewing and the highlight of the event occurred when the aircraft took off and circled the field dropping candy bars.
The next day the “Spirit of Freedom” made the short flight to nearby First Flight Airport and landed on the airport’s 3,000 foot long runway. The C-54 was joined at First Flight by Karl Stoltzfus’ C-47 "Miss Virginia" which had participated this past June in the Daks-Over-Normandy event in England and France. Jim Scheld photographed both aircraft at First Flight on the 16th.
DC-7B Arrives Safely at Delta Flight Museum – November 17, 2019
DC-7B N4887C arrived safely at Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport today after completing a two-day ferry flight from Arizona. The aircraft departed Mesa on Saturday November 16th and, after an overnight stop in Midland, Texas, arrived in Atlanta Sunday afternoon at about 5:30pm EST. Both the #3 and #4 engines had to be replaced prior to departure from Arizona, with two replacement engines being leased from Erickson Aero Tanker. Since the aircraft will be on static display at the museum, the two leased engines will be returned to Erickson and the original engines will be installed. A great ending to the almost year-long saga to get this iconic former Delta airliner to the museum in Atlanta. Here's a link to a very nice YouTube video of the aircraft departing Arizona and its arrival in Atlanta. Kudos to all those involved in making it happen!
DC-7B Will Require Second Replacement Engine – November 7, 2019
The effort to ferry DC-7B N4887C from Phoenix to Atlanta suffered setback on November 5th when metal was found in the aircraft’s #4 engine after the test flight. A second engine will be leased from Erickson Aero Tanker for the ferry flight.
DC-7B Engine Change Complete – October 28, 2019
Lots of progress to report on DC-7B N4887C. The leased engine from Erickson arrived and has replaced the #3 engine. Spark plugs were changed on all four engines and engine runs were successfully completed. The hydraulic leak on the right main landing gear was repaired and late last week high speed taxi runs were successfully completed. So, with all four engines performing well, it’s probably safe to assume that the ferry flight to Atlanta going to happen sooner rather than later.
DC-7B Being Readied for Ferry Flight – October 25, 2019
Efforts are underway at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport to prepare International Air Response (IAR) DC-7B N4887C for its long-awaited ferry flight to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta. A number of issues arose shortly after takeoff from Coolidge Municipal Airport on July 16th, necessitating a diversion to IAR headquarters at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. It was determined that the #3 engine needed replacement and the decision was made to lease an engine/QEC from Erickson Aero Tanker, which operates a number of DC-7/7B firebombers. The lawyers have done their thing, the lease has been signed and the engine arrived in Mesa on Monday October 21st. The #3 engine has been removed and will be shipped to Atlanta where it will be swapped out with leased engine once the aircraft arrives. Since the aircraft will be on static display, there’s no need for a serviceable engine and the leased engine will be returned to Erickson. No date has been set for the ferry flight but all parties’ concerned want it to happen sooner than later!
Coolidge DC-7B Ferry Flight Update – September 21, 2019
As reported on July 16th, International Air Response (IAR) DC-7B N4887C was forced to divert to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport shortly after departing Coolidge Municipal Airport on the first leg of a planned ferry flight to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta. Once on the ground, a number of problems were identified, the most serious being the need to replace the #3 engine. Due to higher priorities, the aircraft was placed in a hangar to wait its turn in queue. I was recently informed that work should begin shortly on repairing the aircraft with a ferry flight possible in the next few months. Good luck to everyone involved and hopefully this iconic aircraft will be part of the museum’s collection in the not too distant future.
Everts Air Cargo DC-6B Going to Norwegian Museum – September 16, 2019 (February 5, 2020 Update)
Everts Air Cargo DC-6B N151 is nearing the end of its service life and has been acquired by The Museum of Aviation History at Sola Airport in Stavanger, Norway. N151 flew for the Norwegian airline Braathens-SAFE as LN-SUB in the 1960’s and will be put on static display at the museum in period Braathens-SAFE colors. The aircraft is being retired by Everts Air Cargo because the airline operates in accordance with 14 CFR Part 121, which requires inspections at regular airframe time intervals. During its tenure with Everts, the aircraft has undergone regular A-,B- and C-Checks but it's approaching a very extensive and expensive D-Check. The last Alaskan operator to perform a D-Check on a DC-6 was Northern Air Cargo about 15-20 years ago and it cost in excess of $1M. Normal operation procedure since then has been to retire a DC-6 approaching a D-check or convert it to a fuel hauler, which operate under 14 CFR Part 125. Everts Air Fuel aircraft are meticulously maintained but are not required to undergo D-checks, which require the aircraft to be almost completely disassembled.
The DC-6B will be flown to Norway by an Everts crew in late October or early November. Everts is gathering historical information and images of the aircraft for a presentation that is being put together. If you have anything you'd like to contribute, email Karen Wing at Everts. Stay tuned for updates. UPDATE: KAREN WING ANNOUNCED THAT N151 WAS UNDERGOING ITS FINAL C-CHECK WITH EVERTS. ITS REMAINING PART 121 HOURS WILL BE FLOWN DOWN LEAVING ENOUGH FOR THE FLIGHT TO NORWAY, WHICH IS EXPECTED IN APRIL 2020. KAREN THANKS ALL THOSE WHO SUBMITTED INFORMATION AND PHOTOS ABOUT THE AIRCRAFT.
Everts Air Cargo DC-6 Involved in Landing Accident at Candle, Alaska – August 2, 2019
Everts Air Cargo C-118B N451CE is a probable write-off after it struck a berm while on final approach to the airport at Candle, Alaska on August 1, 2019. The aircraft was operating as Flight VTS-24 from Fairbanks to Candle and the good news is that none of the three crewmembers onboard were injured. The landing gear and engines were damaged and the aircraft came to rest turned around. For more information, check out the Aviation Safety Network website.
"Save the Skymaster" Project Update - July 27, 2019
The following update was posted on the group’s Facebook page today.
Thank you to all the members who came to North Weald today to discuss the future of the Skymaster project. A very useful meeting with a lot of agreement and a plan agreed for the future of 56498. Just to reiterate Henry Hyde has no intention of dismantling the Skymaster, neither has any intention of selling her. The immediate plan is to prepare the aircraft for participation in the jet fest next month, presenting her as close as possible to the 1944 specification. After jet fest we will work towards restoring electrical power to the aircraft and then get the engines running.
Marc Hookerman Captures the Moment - July 21, 2019
Marc's done it again, capturing the very moment that DC-7B N4887C lifted off from Coolidge Municipal Airport on July 16th. While it wasn't a very long flight due to technical issues, it was exciting to see the old girl back in the air again. Many skeptics thought it would never happen. As many of you probably know, Marc's fabulous photo of Alaska Air Fuel's DC-4 N96358 graced the cover of the 2019 Propliner Annual. Keep those photos coming Marc!
"Save the Skymaster" Project Update - July 21, 2019
On July 18th "Save the Skymaster" organizers posted a pretty grim update on the future of the project. Thankfully today's update is quite a bit more optimistic.
Light at the end of the Tunnel. An update to all those members, volunteers, sponsors and supporters of Save the Skymaster. Thank you firstly for your support and passion for this historic aircraft. Today we met with Mr Hyde and it was made clear that under no circumstances will this aircraft ever be scrapped. There are no intentions to ever do this now or in the future and Mr Hyde is committed and passionate about this aircraft. It all boils down to lack of progress, disillusionment and lack of vital funds to move the project forward. The work conducted by the volunteers, members and supporters is recognised and a project of this magnitude will not and cannot survive without the support of the volunteers. The fact that it will take close to £1 million to get off the ground is a great deal but we have to start somewhere and the team has been dong all they can, when they can and with what money we have. There has been vital preservation and conservation work done over the past 18 months and all your efforts are greatly appreciated. This is a big project but we have met and discussed options with Mr Hyde and we do have a plan. A members meeting will be held at North Weald next weekend on the Saturday 27th at 10h30. Should you wish to attend to find out what the plan forward will be, please do turn up. It was good to meet to day and clear the air, wipe the slate clean and move forward. We look forward to seeing you next weekend. Thank you for your support and we value everything that has been done so far by all our members and supporters.
DC-7B Ferry Flight Update - July 18, 2019
Bill Van Dyck provided some insight today on the problems encountered by DC-7B N4887C on the first leg of her ferry flight to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta. The crew was able to safely land at nearby Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, where the issues are being attended to. Here's Bill's report.
Evidently, the issues that caused the decision to land at Mesa-Gateway, Mesa , AZ, were low oil pressure in the #3 engine and #4 engine not producing full power. There was also an oleo seal leak in the right main gear strut discovered after landing, and possibly caused by the landing. The strut leak was better found at Gateway than at an enroute refueling stop. There were apparently a few minor additional write-ups from the crew as well.
We'll have to be patient and see how these squawks play out. The two engine issues could be a simple matter of a bad oil pressure sensor or connection in #3, and fouled sparkplugs in #4. The gear strut, as I understand, will require removal of the lower strut assembly to replace the seal. Lets all hope for the easy fixes.
Sorry for the lack of photos, but Gateway is an air carrier airport with all the usual restrictive security and tall fences. Also, I apologize if I have caused any confusion by referring to it as Williams. Over the years it has been known as Williams AFB, Williams Airport, Williams-Gateway, and currently Mesa-Gateway. I still think of it as Williams.
"Save the Skymaster" Project Needs Your Support - July 18, 2019
"Save the Skymaster" project organizers sent out an urgent appeal for support today on the group's Facebook page. Confronted with a co-owner of C-54 N44914 that wants to pull the plug on the project, the organizers are faced with the daunting task of raising the necessary funds to buy him out. Considering all the work that volunteers have put in the project over the past 18 months, it would be a shame if the aircraft was scrapped. Unfortunately there is little demand for DC-4/C-54’s on the used aircraft market and scrapping the airplane would most likely be the quickest way for the co-owner to maximize the return on his investment. I wish the group luck in their efforts to preserve this historic aircraft. Here’s the statement that was released today.
Supporters and followers, we need your help urgently! After 18 months of hard work by our volunteers the owner of the C-54 Skymaster at North Weald has decided to pull the plug on the whole project! He technically is a co-owner of the aircraft but had gifted it to the Trust with a view of returning it back to flight. The ideal situation is to secure the aircraft and relieving Mr Hyde of any ownership to allow the Trust to fund raise and gain investment in the project. There will be an opportunity to discussing this on Saturday morning 10am and see if we can come to an amicable agreement with Mr Hyde to Save this aircraft. Sadly this is all about money in all ways. We need money to do IRAN on all engines, we need money to pay engineers to make the necessary repairs. Mr Hyde wants money and we need to find it fast or this historic aircraft will meet its fate.
For more information and updates on the situation, check out the "Save the Skymaster" Facebook page.
Coolidge DC-7B Encounters Problem on First Leg of Ferry Flight to Atlanta - July 16, 2019
Bill Van Dyck reports that DC-7B N4887C departed Coolidge Municipal Airport this morning on what was to be the first leg of its flight to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta. Unfortunately the flight was cut short when an oil pressure issue was encountered during climbout which resulted in the aircraft diverting to nearby Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. The airport is home to International Air Response and hopefully the problem can be quickly rectified. Here's Bill's report for today's events.
Well, today was both exciting and disappointing. I got up at 4AM and headed down to Coolidge Muni. I arrived at sunrise and found they had already moved the plane over to the fuel pumps and were filling the tanks. Once fueled they towed it out into the ramp, loaded the tow bar into the cabin and completed the preflight checks.
Usually, I am the only photographer hanging around this old girl, but this morning they were everywhere. Delta Airlines, the new owner, had sent a team out, there were a couple of independent pros, and a number of guys just wanting to get photos of the event. It was somewhat more restrictive because I didn't want to intrude on the Delta's team, but I think everyone got what they wanted.
The engine starts went well, and as usually were more exciting than 4th of July fireworks. Then, they taxied out to Runway 5 where they held short to do final engine run-ups and checks. After a while there was a distant growl and a large plum of dust as it began its takeoff roll. It was beautiful! I wish all of you could have been there.
After the takeoff I drove John G back to his Jeep and started home, thinking it was all over and I could kick back and watch the progress on FlightAware. Then, I received a text from a friend saying they had had an engine oil pressure issue and diverted to Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa, AZ. Damn!
And, it can finally be confirmed, the new owner will be The Delta Flight Museum, in Atlanta. That was probably one of the worst kept secrets in aviation history. Sorry, I couldn't confirm this before, but the museum has now confirmed it on their FB page.
I don't know exactly what is going on, but if, and when, I do I'll let you know. I hope you enjoy the photos.
Update from Ben Boatright – There were multiple issues that grounded her in Mesa. One was a possible misfire on an engine (4, I think). Another issue arose with low power on another engine. Also, once they landed, they discovered a hydraulic leak. It looks like a min stay of a few days, but more than likely a few weeks to check everything out.
Delta Flight Museum Makes It Offical – July 15, 2019
The Delta Flight Museum made it official today by announcing that it would be acquiring a DC-7B tomorrow on July 16th. No big mystery that the DC-7B will be N4887C, which has been undergoing restoration at Coolidge Municipal Airport in Arizona for the past six months. Kudos to the museum for saving this iconic aircraft.
Coolidge DC-7B Inches Closer to Ferry Flight – July 12, 2019
Bill Van Dyck visited Coolidge Airport on July 11th and it appears that DC-7B N4887C is getting ever closer to making its first flight in quite a few years.
I went down to Coolidge yesterday and the first project of the day was to remove all items from the plane that they're not planning to take to the new owner. During the work many things (tools, parts, the water bottle cooler, etc.) were kept in the plane's cabin and baggage compartments where they would be convenient. These were removed and placed in one of the large storage containers.
The other project of the day was washing the plane. Even with all of the photos I have taken of this plane over the past I had never actually realized how dirty it was. Not engine oil, that's a given, but just Arizona dust and dirt. So, out came the pressure washers and the long handle brushes. At this point, it appears, the only remaining work to be done is putting fuel onboard. My guess is that will probably be done Monday.
As you can see; this is a very good sign. And, better yet, the flight crew is scheduled to arrive the first of this coming week. They evidently went to a contract flight crew for currency requirements. But as I expected, John M., the project manager, will be going along. So, it looks like, the only delay now (and, I'm sure you understand what a bold statement that is) could be the weather generating off the gulf coast.
I know that some of you have been watching all of this very closely, and are eager as hell to see this old girl get to her destination. You may already be aware that there is a radar tracking website called FlightAware. On FlightAware, you can enter an aircraft's N-number into their search box (the one at the very top of the page) and follow the flight path of that plane. This DC-7's tail number is; N4887C. I will make every effort to post a timely notification on this site when it departs.
"Aztec Viking" Cockpit Centerpiece of Amazing Private Collection – July 11, 2019
I recently received an email from Angel Aparicio who flies B767s for the Mexican cargo airline Aerounion. Over the past 30+ years, Angel has amassed an amazing collection of aircraft cockpits, instrument panels and other aviation artifacts that are displayed in his Mexico City home. The centerpiece of the collection is a totally restored former SAS DC-6 cockpit, which he installed on the roof of the house.
"Dear Ralph…My name is Angel Aparicio and I'm a B767captain and instructor for the Mexican cargo airline Aerounion. I was born in 1961 and love the old props. I remember seeing DC-3s, 4s, 6s, and 7s as well as Boeing Stratocruisers and Lockheed Constellations at Mexico City Airport in the late 1960's. In 1988 I bought a DC-6 cockpit from the Mexican Air Force and wrote an article about this airplane, which was published in the October 1999 issue of Airways Magazine. The article was titled “Story of an Aztec Viking" because the aircraft was built in Santa Monica, California in 1948 and delivered to Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) and named "Agne Viking." The DC-6 later flew with Aeronaves de Mexico named "Netzahualcoyotl" and ended her days with the Mexican Air Force. I have all the Propliner Magazines and I just saw your magnificent "ProplinerInfoExchange" website, which was mentioned in the 2019 annual."
"In addition to the DC-6 cockpit, I have DC-3, DC-8 and DC-9 cockpits in my collection. I also have DC-4, DC-7, B-707, B-727, B-737 and Airbus A-300 instrument panels along with panels from some military airplanes including the BT-13, Stearman, AT-6, T-28, T-33, F-105, F-4, and T-38. Also, a bunch of control wheels, instruments, propellers and parts."
What an absolutely amazing collection Angel has put together! The above photos show just a small portion of his collection. A brief history of DC-6 c/n 43120...Delivered to SAS as SE-BDB "Agne Viking" in May 1948. SAS is a joint Swedish-Danish-Norwegian operation and the registration was changed to LN-LMF in September 1954. The DC-6 was one of a group of aircraft acquired by the government owned Aeronaves de Mexico SA (AMSA) in 1959/60. It was registered XA-NAJ in March 1960 and named "Netzahualcoyotl." XA-NAJ was sold to Servicios Aereos Especiales SA (SAESA) in December 1966 and by 1971 had been withdrawn from service and stored at Mexico City Airport. The Mexican Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Mexicana) acquired the aircraft and during its last maintenance check in February 1983, it had logged a total of 42,300 hours. Officially retired by Fuerza Aérea Mexicana on October 23, 1987, Angel bought the cockpit section for its scrap value in 1988. Many thanks to Angel for sharing his story and photos.
The museum will become homeless on July 14, 2019 as a result of the airport leasing its display hangar to the Honeywell Corporation. The following statement was issued on the museum's website .
"Carolinas Aviation Museum and the City of Charlotte, along with Charlotte Douglas International Airport, announced they are working together on plans for a new museum facility as the airport prepares to repurpose the museum’s existing location on airport property to serve the region’s growing private-aviation needs."
"After 26 years of making history and imagination soar, Carolinas Aviation Museum is proud to be partnering with the City of Charlotte, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and internationally recognized design firm Freeman Ryan Design to develop plans for a state-of-the-art new location in Charlotte with a planned re-opening in 2022."
Hopefully all goes well and the museum will be in its new home by 2022. Until that time the museum's aircraft will be moved to a storage location, where they won't be on public display.
Coolidge DC-7B Ready for Ferry Flight – July 9, 2019
When Bill Van Dyck recently returned from his annual summer trip to “the Lake” in northern Minnesota he was surprised to see that DC-7B N4887C had not departed Coolidge on her cross-country journey to Atlanta. Bill posted the following report on Facebook July 8th. ”As I understand, it's ready to go, ferry permit is in place (or, will be very soon), and, if nothing unexpected crops-up, departure is scheduled for next week. Frankly, I feel like the boy that cried wolf with that statement. But, it appears that work is completed and all they have been doing recently is running the engines periodically to keep them lubricated. The photos below were taken today.”
I’m glad that Bill’s back in Arizona to record the aircraft’s departure, which will hopefully happen soon.
Maryland’s Mystery DC-4 Forward Fuselage - July 8, 2019
During my June 2019 visit to Southern Maryland, I went hunting for the forward fuselage of DC-4 N8588 in Grasonville, Maryland. I first encountered the fuselage in September 1990 at Los Banos Airport in the San Joaquin Valley of California, where it was mounted on a trailer and carried “Alert II Simulators” titles. John Gaffe’s September 2018 Grasonville photograph showed the fuselage parked outdoors and luckily Google Maps still showed the fuselage parked in that spot so I was able to pinpoint its location. It would not be that easy as the fuselage has since been moved inside the building and I missed it on my first pass. The fuselage is visible inside the building through large glass windows along with DC-3 and KC-97 cockpit sections. In addition there was an early 1950’s Greyhound bus and what appeared to be a number of disassembled MiG 15/17 fighters in the building. I wasn’t able to photograph the aircraft but I can attest that it is still located in Grasonville. See my February 10, 2019 report for additional info and some photos. What plans the owner has for the DC-4 fuselage, or for any of the other artifacts, is a mystery to me.
Engine Work Continues on Coolidge DC-7B – June 2, 2019
Bill Van Dyck provided the following report on his latest Facebook post on the restoration of DC-7B N4887C at Coolidge Airport in Arizona. It appears that the first flight is getting closer but those engine gremlins keep on making things difficult.
June 1, 2019 – Work continues. While the engine runs reported in the May 22nd update seemed very encouraging, the high power runs on May 24th presented some additional issues that needed to be addressed. #2 needed an injector pump (this was known before the high power runs and, while #2 was run to keep it oiled, it wasn’t run up to power). #1 was rough running at power. #3 ran quite well. And, #4 was rough running at power too.
A new injector pump arrived and was installed in #2 this past Tuesday. And, all of the engines had their sparkplugs removed and inspected. It’s no wonder #1 ran rough; it required replacing 12 plugs. #4 also had a number of plugs that required replacing, but the question with #4 was; is the issue bad plugs or a bad fuel controller. It was decided to try the plugs first. On Thursday #4 was the last one to have its plugs inspected and replaced. Unfortunately, on Friday, the test run of #4 demonstrated that the problem was the fuel controller. The good news; a replacement was on hand and probably installed by the end of the day. Also, on Thursday the nose wheel tire was replaced with a new one.
This may seem like a long process, but keep in mind this airplane is 60+ year old and hasn’t flown in over 15 years. And, while it will only have to fly for a few hours to its final destination, the men working on it don’t look at it like that. They intend to bring this machine back to a flying condition that meets all standards, both legal and professional. That has been, and continues to be, a lot of very hard work.
Many thanks to Bill for keeping his reports and photos coming our way.
Former Everts DC-6s Scattered Around the Fairbanks Area – May 25, 2019
Not all DC-6s and C-118s retired by Everts wind up in their famous Fairbanks boneyard. Over the years a number have been donated or sold to individuals and organizations and can still be found in and around the Fairbanks area. In addition to DC-6 N4390X, which is used by emergency first responders at Fairbanks Intl Airport for training and DC-6A N6174C at Chena Hot Springs Resort, I have located the following aircraft.
DC-6 N666SQ was donated to the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club in 2009. It was disassembled and moved to a location on Bennett Road near Fairbanks in July 2009. After a few years at this location, it was moved to a new location in North Pole, AK where it sits today. The lot was obviously cleared to accommodate the aircraft but it appears, for all intents and purposes, abandoned with the wings and other pieces haphazardly lying on the soggy ground. Everts tried really hard to find a museum home for this now rare "baby" DC-6 but none were interested. It appeared that a happy ending had been achieved when the motorcycle club wanted to use it for its clubhouse but this has proved to not to be the case with the aircraft rotting in place 10 years later. It can be located by plugging 2436 Sunflower Loop, North Pole, AK into your GPS.
DC-6A N12347 sits alongside Old Steese Highway a few miles outside of Fairbanks. Its outer wings have been removed and it is located in what appears to be a storage area for some sort of business. I remember folks talking about it during my first visit to Alaska in 2005 while on an Ian Allan tour so it’s been there for at least 14 years and probably longer. Fairbanks is expanding with more and more houses being built in the area. I wonder how long it will be before one of the new homeowners complains about the "eyesore" along the side of the road! It can be located by plugging 1380 Little Fox Trail, Fairbanks, AK into your GPS.
The forward fuselage of DC-6B N999SQ “The Lucky Duck” sits atop the Pike’s Aviation Greenhouse & Sweets shop on Airport Way near the airport. The shop is part of the Pike’s Waterfront Lodge but I’ve never seen it open. “Capt Cliff E & Rob" is inscribed below the copilot’s window in obvious reference to Cliff and Rob Everts.
While the forward fuselage of DC-6B N28CA is still owned by Everts, I thought it deserved mention. It is used as an aircrew procedures trainer by Everts and is mounted on the outside wall of their second floor training room overlooking the engine shop. While it is not a flight simulator, it provides pilots valuable training in cockpit procedures before they move on to the actual aircraft.
Coolidge DC-7B Inching Closer to First Flight – May 25, 2019
Bill Van Dyck reports on the latest news from Coolidge Airport on DC-7B N4887C.
May 17, 2019 – I got down to Coolidge Muni early this morning and was able to get some photos before anyone else arrived. As I was working my way around the plane everyone started arriving...Alex, John G, Brandon, and, much to my surprise, Dan Stout. It was great seeing Dan, again. I wasn't expecting to see all of the cowlings off the engines again, but they had removed them to do the final inspections and adjustments to the engines. It looks like final work on the engines today and run them up Monday. And, have it flying by next Friday!
May 20, 2019 – The day was spent finishing up some detail work on the engines. One of the things completed was checking and setting ignition timing on each of the engines.
May 22, 2019 – The day was checking oil levels and replenishing oil quantities before the two sets of engine runs planned for the day. The first set of runs were done with lower cylinder sparkplugs removed to clear the engines. Only one engine at a time was run for this set and the sparkplugs were replaced at the conclusion. The next set of runs were done to check mags, props, and overall engine operation. During this run each engine was started and all four ran simultaneously. During the last run, when it was taxied, there was a lot of extraneous engine noise; popping, missing, etc. This run was glorious! Smooth, rumbling, and powerful sounding engines! It really struck me; this old girl is going to fly! Of course a few items were revealed that need to be addressed, but I think everyone was impressed with this run.
Former Everts DC-6 Lingers on at Fairbanks Airport’s Fire Practice Area - May 14, 2019
Thanks to the very accommodating folks at Fairbanks Airport Ops, I was able to photograph former Everts DC-6 N4390X at the airport’s fire and emergency training area. While the aircraft was essentially intact, it was missing engines and had what I incorrectly assumed were bullet holes in the right rear fuselage. Dietmar Schreiber recently informed me that the holes were created by a special lance that pierces the fuselage and sprays fire retardant inside the aircraft. Although it is used for emergency training, there was no evidence of fire damage so hopefully it will survive for a few more years. In addition, there was a very beat up Beech 18 fuselage located adjacent to the DC-6. It was full of holes and was pretty torn up. I was not able to identify it and would appreciate it very much if someone could email me the identity of this forlorn aircraft.
Former Conair Tanker #46 Ready to Enter Service with Everts Air Fuel - May 13, 2019
I noted former Conair DC-6A C-GHLY #46 parked outside Everts North Hangar in basic Conair colors with EAC titles on the tail. This aircraft was one of three Conair DC-6s acquired by Everts a few years back and was initially registered N501ZS for the ferry flight from Abbotsford, BC. While it doesn't carry any registration markings, it was recently re-registered N651CE and appears to be ready to enter service hauling fuel for Everts.
Former Everts DC-6A on Display at Chena Hot Springs Resort - May 12, 2019
When Everts Air Cargo retired DC-6A N6174C “Good Grief” in 2016, the most likely destination was the Everts boneyard in Fairbanks. This was not to be and, with Rob Everts at the controls, the aircraft made its final flight from Anchorage to the small dirt airstrip at Chena Hot Springs Resort on October 2, 2016. During its 62 year flying career, the aircraft flew for no less than eight airlines and amassed a bit over 56,000 hours. After arriving, the DC-6 was hoisted about 50 feet into the air and set on three large pylons. I visited the resort on May 12th and I can attest that the aircraft makes quite a statement sitting on those pylons. I asked what the plans were for the aircraft but no one seemed to know. Two theories are a zip line with the second being a cocktail lounge. If it’s going to be a cocktail lounge, I would suggest an elevator!
Coolidge DC-7B Moves Under Its Own Power – May 8, 2019
Another milestone was achieved on Monday when the DC-7B N4887C moved under its own power. Bill Van Dyck has been on top of the project from the start and posted the following report and photos.
May 6, 2019 – Monday was a very good day! I got down to Coolidge a little later than usual and was pleased to see cowling pieces laid out in front of the engines. In fact, engine #1 already had its cowling on when I got there. The goal for the day was to correct an excessive RPM drop on one of engine #2 magnetos, check the oil strainer in #3 engine, re-install the cowlings, re-inflate the main gear struts, and do a low speed taxi. Yes, it was going to taxi! I’ve been waiting since 2004 to see this old girl move under its own power. It did it a few years ago, during an earlier restoration effort, but I didn’t get to see it. So, here are the photos of Monday’s work. I wish you could have been there to see it taxi. I hope you enjoy the photos.
For additional photos and some great videos, check out Bill’s Facebook post.
Coolidge DC-7B Engine Runs – May 4, 2019
Good news from Coolidge! A major milestone was achieved on May 2nd when all four engines were run on DC-7B N4887C without any major mishap. Bill Van Dyck has been following the rebirth of this iconic airliner and posted the following report on the event. Thanks Bill for your great reporting and photos and for allowing me to post them on this website!
May 2, 2019 – Engine runs! All four engines were run with varying results. Nothing serious was discovered just a few issues that need to be resolved. The engines were first turned thru by the starters (no fuel or ignition) with the bottom spark plugs removed. This was done to prevent oil that may have settled in the lower cylinders from causing hydraulic lock damage during engine start. Once this was done the engines were started and run in sequence from #1 to #4. The planned procedure was that once the engines warmed they were to be brought up to a high power setting. While at the high power setting the props were to be cycled thru their pitch range to check their control.
Engine #1 was brought to high speed but was shut down because its low oil pressure warning light came on. While this ended its run, the good news is that the oil pressure gauge continued to show good oil pressure. This probably means the oil pressure light came on due to a loose connector. Once that is resolved it will probably be run again.
Engine #2 went thru the run up with no problems.
Engine #3 was brought up to speed but the prop wasn’t cycled because of a possible contamination problem that had been discovered when the engine was mounted. The idea was to run it up and then check the oil screen for any possible remaining contamination. It will require another run to check the prop.
Engine #4 also had a good run, but after shut down there was unusual smoke coming up thru the top cylinders. It could have been something as simple as a bird’s nest.
I tried to get numerous photos from different locations hoping to convey a better sense of the event. It was certainly noisy, but it was a sound that you wanted to hear. And, while I hope all of you enjoy this update, I am dedicating this to my friend and DBP member Larry McDonald. Larry is Canadian and visits this area during the winter, and unfortunately, had to leave for home before the engine run he was hoping to see. Wish you could have been here Larry.
Coolidge DC-7B Close to Making First Post-Restoration Flight – April 30, 2019
Bill Van Dyck has been posting regular reports and photos of the restoration of International Air Response (IAR) DC-7B N4887C at Coolidge Airport in Arizona. He posted the following report on April 29th and it appears that the aircraft is almost ready for the short ferry flight to IAR headquarters at nearby Phoenix Mesa-Gateway Airport. If rumors prove true, the aircraft will then be prepped for the long cross-country flight to the Delta Airlines Museum in Atlanta. Many thanks to Bill for his great reports and allowing me to share them.
April 29, 2019 - The overhauled fuel boost pumps have been installed and work great. However, when fuel was added to the tanks a few leaks were discovered elsewhere. #1 main tank had a popped rivet that caused a 3 inch high geyser of fuel on top of the wing. Replacing some rivets solved that. #2 main had a leak that was resealed. #3 and #4 mains both have small leaks that can be easily corrected.
Fixing the leaks has been somewhat time consuming because tanks have had to be defueled or have their fuel transferred to another tank. Unfortunately, the DC-7 doesn’t have tank to tank crossfeed capabilities like the DC-4/-6 aircraft. So, a rather ingenious method of doing tank to tank was worked out. Since the DC-7 does allow any one engine to access any tank they simple disconnected the #3 engine’s fuel supply line and connected a long hose to it. Then, by selecting any tank to feed #3 engine they can use the selected tanks boost pump to transfer fuel thru the long hose into another tank.
John (the pilot) wants 1200 gallons of fuel aboard for the flight to Mesa- Gateway. So, today was spent putting fuel onboard. It’s rather a slow process because there aren’t any fuel trucks on Coolidge. To avoid the difficulty of towing the plane over to the fuel pumps, they’ve been using a fuel container (500 gallon) on a forklift. It works but it’s rather a slow process. The good news is that they should be able to start the engine runs tomorrow. I will keep you updated. In the mean time I hope you enjoy these photos. (Note: The 55 gallon drums were removed and replaced them with the two containers in the above photo for ballast.)
Fuel Pump Issues Plague Coolidge DC-7B – April 13, 2019
Bill Van Dyck posted an update today on the current situation with DC-7B N4887C in Coolidge. “Since the last update the left wing fuel pumps have been replaced and tank leaks sealed. This past Thursday and Friday were spent replacing fuel pumps and sealing discovered fuel leaks on the right wing. At this point the fuel pumps have been an issue. The pumps being used are "as removed" from other aircraft. Unfortunately, the company has had to buy eight pumps just to get four that will run. The next hurdle is to find out if the pumps' seals are good. Since there removal from other aircraft they have probably been sitting on a shelf for years which may have caused damage to their internal seals. The only way to check those seals is to install the pumps into the tanks, then add fuel and see if they leak. There are overhauled pumps available, but they cost a couple thousand dollars each. That's not very cost effective for an airplane that is only going to fly for 6 hours, ever again. So, the next step is to see if the "new" pumps seals leak.”
SkyClass Aviation Grounds DC-4 ZS-AUB – April 11, 2019
Peter Brill reports that South Africa based Skyclass Aviation will not be renewing the C of A for DC-4 ZS-AUB. SkyClass had operated South African Airways Museum DC-3 ZS-BXF and DC-4s ZS-BMH and ZS-AUB on tourist and business charter flights to destinations in central and east Africa. DC-3 ZS-BXF and DC-4 ZS-BMH are expected to remain in operation. The DC-4s seat 50 passengers in business class configuration while the DC-3 seats up to 26 passengers.
Work Continues on IAR DC-7B at Coolidge Municipal Airport – April 4, 2019 (April 5, 2019 Update)
Lots of progress has been made on preparing DC-7B N4887C for its ferry flight since my February 26, 2019 report. Bill Van Dyck has been providing regular updates and photos on Facebook, which I’ve summarized in this report.
March 6, 2019 – Most of the work his currently being directed at the fuel system. Fixing the numerous small leaks, rehabbing valves and pumps, while waiting for the tanks to be re-sealed.
March 26, 2019 – The fuel system has been the primary area of concentration over the past couple of weeks. Pump and valve replacement is just about finished. Today John had the assistance of four additional mechanics to help finish up the fuel system. The plan from management is to do the engine runs and taxi test tomorrow, but there still seems to be some question about it being ready. I suspect it will be Wednesday. After the engine runs and taxi test the plan is to do a weight and balance check which should bring her pretty close to making the Mesa Gateway flight.
March 29, 2019 – The weight and balance check was completed, which was a very interesting process. I have seen it done on light aircraft, but this was my first time to watch it being done on a large airplane. After the weight and balance was completed the plan was to do the gear swing. Unfortunately, the wind increased and it was decided to wait until Monday. Due to the time it took to level the jacks they were left in place over the weekend. They were lowered to a point where there was still a little of the airplane’s weight on them, so they wouldn’t have to be re-leveled on Monday
April 1, 2019 – The wind picked up in the morning so it was decided to delay the gear swing until after lunch and see if the wind died down. It did and the gear swing was successfully completed.
April 4, 2019 – The fuel system is all back together and the landing gear struts were serviced yesterday. And, this morning they were doing a pitot-static check. Next up will be to put fuel in the tanks, check for leaks, then do the engine runs and taxi check.
April 5, 2019 - The fuel tank leak check yesterday showed two leaks. One was a sealing issue in #2 and the other a fuel pump in #1. Also, two fuel pumps that need to be replaced (probably overhauled). The pitot-static check showed pitot line leaks. However they appear to be in flexible line and fairly easy to replace. Engine runs will most likely be delayed.
Thanks much to Bill for his great reporting!
South African DC-6B Lives On – April 2, 2019
Well-traveled aviation enthusiast Peter Brill recently posted the following report about DC-6B ZS-MUL on Facebook. “ZS-MUL, former Canadian Pacific 'Princess of Suva'is preserved north of Pretoria, SA. Still looking as good as when she landed on this private airstrip in 2010. She was never converted to cargo configuration. Thus being totally worthless she hung on until she was saved by our friend Witold Walus who made her airworthy again after she was parked up for more than ten years at Swartkop Airbase, South Africa. A lucky survivor indeed, revisited last week. Of course you will all remember the spectacular YouTube video of her landing on a makeshift 850 meter (2,800 foot) runway. I'd like to thank Peter for allowing me to re-post the photos and report on this website.
Former Air Atlantique DC-6A to Welsh Museum – March 2, 2019
It has recently been reported that former Air Atlantique DC-6A G-APSA has been acquired by the South Wales Aviation Museum. This is very good news indeed since it was rumored in early 2018 that the aircraft was scheduled to be scrapped in March 2018. Last flown in 2008, the aircraft is currently in period British Eagle colors and will be disassembled at Coventry Airport before shipment to the museum in St. Athan, Wales. The DC-6A was delivered to Maritime Central Airways in Canada in June 1958. Eagle Aviation acquired it three months later in September 1958 and it went on to serve with Cunard Eagle Airways, British Eagle Intl Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Yemen Airways before being acquired by Air Atlanique in February 1987. Used as an oil dispersant sprayer and freighter for many years, the aircraft’s last hurrah was on the airshow circuit in British Eagle colors. This is a good ending for what could have easily been another vintage Propliner being scrapped.
IAR DC-7B to Delta Airlines Museum – February 10, 2019 (February 26, 2019 Update)
The Delta Flight Museum is reported to be negotiating with International Air Response (IAR) to purchase DC-7B N4887C for display in Atlanta, Georgia. The aircraft is currently stored at Coolidge Municipal Airport and it has done very little flying since the early 2000’s. N4887C was delivered to Delta Airlines in November 1957 and was operated by a number of travel clubs after being retired by the airline in 1968. It was sold to IAR’s predecessor T&G Aviation in June 1980 and converted to a firebomber. Assigned #33, the aircraft fought forest fires around the continental U.S. and Alaska until 2000, when it was last based in Palmer, Alaska. In early 2000 it was painted in vintage Delta Airlines colors and, for a very short time, also carried Delta Airlines titles which the airline did not find amusing. While most of the passenger interior has been removed, the original horseshoe lounge in the rear of the aircraft remains largely intact.
Two previous attempts to ferry the aircraft from Coolidge to IAR headquarters at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport resulted in aborted takeoffs and plans to move the aircraft were put on hold. Although the #3 engine needs to be replaced, the aircraft was recently inspected and found to be in good condition. Successful ground runs were performed on the other three engines in December 2018. Hopefully the sale happens and this iconic 1950’s airliner makes one last flight to a new home in Atlanta.
Bill Van Dyck reported that the #3 engine was run on February 13th and posted a video on Facebook. Bill also reported in the Facebook post that the planned departure date was sometime in early March.
Texas C-118A Lives On – February 10, 2019
C-118A N578AS was noted stored at the Zuehl Airport Flying Community near San Antonio, Texas during 2018. The airport is a residential flying community so it’s not the place where you’d normally expect the find this type of airplane. The bare metal aircraft appeared to be in good condition and had small United Airlines emblems on its nose.
N578AS was delivered to the USAF in August 1955 as 53-3279 and its 24-year military service included a stint with the U.S. Navy. Sold at auction in 1986, the aircraft was acquired by its present owner Nighthawk Air Systems in 1995. An Oakland, California group calling itself Radial Reminiscence leased the aircraft in 1995 with the intent of restoring it in United Airlines colors. The group ran out of funds and Nighthawk repossessed the aircraft, returning it to Texas. It was reported parked at Stinson Field, Texas before being flown to Zuehl Airport, where it was first noted in January 2007.
While most Propliner enthusiasts would probably love to live in a community that featured a C-118A, it was reported that neighbors didn’t appreciate the new addition and tried to have it evicted. Obviously they didn’t succeed since the airplane is still there. While appearing externally complete and in good condition, it has been dropped from the US Registry and it would probably take a significant amount of money to make it airworthy. Unfortunately, I believe the odds are against it ever flying again.
Georgia DC-4 Update – February 10, 2019
After being sold for scrap in June 2017, I figured that DC-4 N708Z wasn’t long for this world. The aircraft was abandoned at Douglas Municipal Airport in Georgia shortly after arriving in October 2005 with its #4 engine shut down. Exposed to the elements for 12+ years, the DC-4 is looking pretty rough and is reported to have considerable corrosion damage. In spite of this, it was recently rumored that the new owner planned on making the aircraft airworthy and flying it out.
Michael O’Leary visited the airport in July 2018 and reported that folks at the field were of the opinion that it will fly out “once the owner arrives with four QECs.” This is a ray of sunshine but I wouldn’t bet the farm that the DC-4 will depart Douglas on its own power.
DC-4 Fuselage Stored in Maryland – February 10, 2019
The forward fuselage of DC-4 N8588 was noted this summer stored in a commercial area along US 50 in Grasonville, Maryland. It was delivered to the USAAF in July 1944 and after the war had a short career with Chicago and Southern before being exported to Brazil in 1951. It flew for Aerovias Brasil, REAL, Loide Aero Nacional and VASP before returning to the US in 1970 and registered N8588. The aircraft was stored at Oakland Airport for a number of years and eventually became derelict.
I first came across the aircraft at Los Banos Airport in central California in September 1990 where the intact fuselage with “Alert II Simulator” markings was mounted a custom trailer. The forward fuselage was noted in Cleveland, Ohio in August 2008 and it’s a mystery to me to what it’s doing on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Perhaps it’s owned by a collector.