Opa-locka Airport Visit – July 4, 2022
I visited Opa-locka Airport on Monday June 27, 2022 and photographed the few remaining Propliners that call the airport home. Florida Air Cargo operates DC-3s N15MA, N138FS "Snoopy" and N271SE with Conquest Air Cargo operating CV340/C-131s N342GS "Trumman", N343GS "Uriel" and N345GS "Alice". Conquest also wet leases a single CV580 from IFL Group. The day of my visit, CV580 N171FL departed with a load of cargo to Nassau as did CV340/C-131 N145GS. Florida Air Cargo typically flies to Nassau Tuesday thru Friday so there were no DC-3 flights the day of my visit. In addition Atlantic Air Cargo operates a single DC-3 N705GB. These aircraft are primarily used on the Opa-locka to Nassau run hauling general cargo but also fly occasionally to destinations throughout the Caribbean. Business is very good which keeps the airplanes busy. There are no more stored or derelict Propliners on the field, which has been taken over by corporate jets...they are everywhere!
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."
CV580 Makes Final Flight to Museum – May 27, 2022
Air Chathams CV580 Combi ZK-CIB made its final flight on May 21, 2022 from Auckland to Wanaka, New Zealand, where it will go on display at the National Toy and Transport Museum. The flight lasted 2 hours 20 minutes and was flown by chief pilot Darron Kyle and company CEO Craig Emeny. The 65 year old aircraft made its final scheduled passenger/freight flight on July 23, 2021 from Wellington International Airport to the Chatham Islands. The aircraft was then relegated to flying charter flights for its final months in service and retirement was delayed a bit due to the COVID pandemic. Air Chathams' fleet of Convairs have been replaced with more modern but way less sexy ATR-72’s. For more information about the final flight, check out the May 23, 2022 article in the Otago Daily Times. For more information about Air Chathams' CV580 operations, check out news items on this page starting with July 29, 2021.
Update on Phoenix CV640 – May 26, 2022
As reported on May 12, 2022, Aeronaves TSM CV640 XA-UMI has been parked at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX) since August 16, 2021. AirNav RadarBox shows it departing PHX and returning to the airport after a short 18-minute flight. Cole McAndrew reports the reason for the return to PHX was an engine fire and that that the aircraft’s titles and registration have been painted over. Joshua Golabi photographed the aircraft on May 25, 2022 and confirms that the right engine sustained fire damage and the titles have been removed. I suspect that there’s a good chance that the aircraft has been abandoned since the cost of cutting it up is probably higher than its scrap value. Many thanks to Cole and Joshua for their reports and photos.
Conair CV580 Update – May 26, 2022
Conair has been drawing down its CV580 fleet and John Olafson reports that only four remain in service. They have served Conair well over the years and this fire season it probably the last for these aircraft. John visited Penticton, B.C. on May 17, 2022 and provided the following report and photos.
"I visited the British Columbia Forest Service air tanker base in Penticton on Tuesday May 17th and was happy to see this group on the ramp. That was the day of their practice mission and two of them followed the bird dog on the flight. I missed C-FHKF Tanker 55 takeoff due to the fence obstructing my view, but after moving down as far as possible I got a couple of shots of C-FKFL Tanker 49 as it departed."
"There are only four CV580’s left in the Conair fleet. Three have been assigned to the Penticton base with C-FKFA Tanker 52 assigned to Alaska. It’s likely this will be the last season for the Convairs. They served the firefighting role well for many years, and it’s sad to think they will soon be retired. I am glad I got one last visit with them." Many thanks to John for sharing his report and photos.
End of the Line for Mexican CV640 Freighters – May 12, 2022
I recently received a report that Aeronaves TSM CV640 XA-UMI was parked at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport (PHX). Like many turboprop Convair operators, Aeronaves TSM has retired its aging fleet over the past few years with XA-UMI and XA-UTW soldiering on until at least mid-2021 according to FlightAware records. It appears that XA-UJI and XA-URL made their final flights for Aeronaves TSM in 2019 with XA-UNH being retired after its September 20, 2017 wheels-up landing at Saltillo, Mexico. AirNav RadarBox shows XA-UMI making an 18-minute flight on August 16, 2021, departing and then returning to PHX. With all of the other CV640’s retired in Mexico, one has to wonder why XA-UMI has been parked at PHX…perhaps a mechanical issue? Cole McAndrews photo of XA-UMI was taken at PHX on January 21, 2021; Jason Whitebird's photo of XA-UTW was taken at PHX on May 21, 2021; and Paul Filmer's photos were taken at Saltillo, Mexico on February 22, 2018. Notice the curled prop tips on Paul's photo of XA-UNH.
CV440 Remains Extant at Norwegian Airport – May 7, 2022
In July 2019 Antti Hyvärinen noted the fuselage of former SAS CV440 LN-MAP parked adjacent to runway 1R/19L at Oslo’s Gardermoen Airport. Ola Carlsson recently confirmed that the fuselage is still at the airport parked on a trailer adjacent to the runway 01R threshold and forwarded a photo taken on April 22, 2022. Simon Barker photographed the fuselage almost ten years ago in September 2012. Even then it looked a bit down and out and ten more years of Norwegian weather haven't improved its condition. On the positive side, at least it hasn’t been scrapped and perhaps there’s a small chance that some organization may see fit to save at least part of it.
Many thanks to Ola and Simon for sharing their photos.
CV240 Remains Extant at South Florida Airport – April 11, 2022
As reported by Andrew Rowbotham on September 12, 2020, former Miami Air Lease CV240/T-29B N150PA was being stored in what appeared to be near-airworthy condition at Miami-Homestead GA Airport. Graham Robson visited the airport on April 3, 2022 and I’m happy to pass on his report that the aircraft is still parked there and appears to be well taken care of. "Convair T-29B N150PA at Homestead General this afternoon. Wearing small 'Operated by Charterlines' titles on the forward fuselage, it hasn't flown in a few years but, reportedly, had carried out occasional engine runs in the past 12 months.".
Buffalo Airways Red Deer Update – March 21, 2022
Mike Golberg visited Red Deer Regional Airport on March 19, 2022 and photographed a number of Buffalo Airways aircraft from the fence line. Since John Olafson’s September 2, 2021 visit to the airport, former Conair CV580’s C-GKFO #53 and C-FKFM #54 have arrived joining C-GYXC #42 and C-FKFB #47. While Buffalo doesn’t fly Convairs, valuable engines and other components have been harvested for the company’s Electras and smart money have the Convairs eventually being scrapped. Like John, Mike was not able gain airside access and his photos are over and through the fence. The photos provide a sense of what’s happening with Buffalo at the airport and are much appreciated. Many thanks to Mike for sharing his report and photos.
Electra's C-GLBA, C-FBAQ #417, C-GXFC
Electra C-FIJX #416
CV580 C-FKFM #54, Electra C-GLBA
Electra C-FIJX #416, CV580 C-FKFM #54
Electra C-FIJX #416, CV580 C-FKFM #54
CV580's C-FKFB #47, C-GKFO #53
DC-3's C-FDTD, CF-CUE
DC-3's C-FDTD, CF-CUE
CL-215 C-FTUV #290
CL-215 C-GNCS #291
CL-215's C-FTUV #290, C-GNCS #291, C-FTXA #284, C-FYWP #292
Six More Convairs Scrapped – October 30, 2021 - Updated November 1, 2021
The bad news just keeps on coming with Carl Kuhns reporting that six former Air Tahoma Convairs are being scrapped at Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio. "During the week of September 27, 2021 at Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus Ohio, six Air Tahoma Convair Twins were scrapped. Sources told me there were one Convair 240, and five Convair 580’s. From my limited view behind a fence, I could see that the Convairs had no engines or props. I have attached two photos of the site." Editor's Note: While I can’t be sure, but it appears that the aircraft in the background of the first photo appears to be CV240 N156PA, which was still reported to be at Rickenbacker as late as 2016.
UPDATE - Ken Swartz made a number of visits to Rickenbacker Airport and his report on a March 2016 visit was documented on Ruud Leeuw’s website. You'll need to scroll down the page a bit to find the report or search for "Columbus"
Restoration of Paraguayan CV240 Continues – September 22, 2021
As reported on May 15, 2021, a group of Paraguayan aviation enthusiasts have rescued former Líneas Aéreas Paraguayas CV240 ZP-CDO in Asunción, Paraguay and are restoring her for static display. Alejandro J. Dávalos Sotomayor recently sent me an update on the group’s progress and some photos. "The aircraft exterior has been washed; the radar nose painted; a new cabin floor installed; and the interior and exterior of the aircraft are undergoing complete repair."
It’s great to see this vintage Propliner being saved and kudos to the folks in Paraguay for their dedication and hard work.
Red Deer Regional Airport Update – September 2, 2021
John Olafson recently visited Red Deer Regional Airport in Alberta, Canada and forwarded a report and photos. On July 29th I reported that Air Spray was building a new RADS II tank system and the obvious question at the time was what Electra would be pulled out of the boneyard for restoration. John reports that former Honduran Air Force C-GNPB had been moved to the active ramp and perhaps this long-stored airframe might be Air Spray’s next tanker conversion…or perhaps not. Only time will tell.
Former Conair CV580 C-FKFB #47 is a recent arrival at Red Deer and joins CV580 C-GYXC #42, which arrived some time ago. Buffalo obviously acquired them for their Allison engines since it doesn’t operate CV580’s. With that said, here’s John’s report.
I was at Red Deer on August 25th, and sadly, and unfortunately I could not access either Air Spray or Buffalo facilities. Air Spray’s director of safety was unavailable and nobody was there who was authorized to let me in. Same at Buffalo, although a sympathetic chap let me inside the gate but no further. Very disappointing. Maybe this is yet another airport where access inside is going to be near impossible. I hope not.
It looks like many of Buffalo’s stored aircraft have been moved away from the back field and are seen close to their hangars, behind locked gates and fences. Maybe that back storage area is earmarked for something else.
At any rate, I did get a few snaps, some through the blasted fence. Interesting thing is that Electra C-GNPB is on the Air Spray ramp and they are obviously doing something with it. Two engines are on it, and they are connected to the power cart. I wonder if this is the next one for the fleet. Maybe so. Sorry for the poor quality photo, it was the best I could do through the fence.
And I saw two of the former Conair CV580’s parked there, engineless. C-FKFB had just recently arrived and they still had not removed the engines. Buffalos two airtanker Electras were back off contract up north, and its likely they are finished for this year. I was also able to photograph Buffalo CL-215’s C-FTUV #290 and C-GNCS #291. C-FTUV had just returned from contract and C-GNCS was a standby aircraft.
Many thanks to John for sharing his report and photos.
CV580 Combi Makes Final Scheduled Flight – July 29, 2021
As reported on October 7, 2020, Air Chathams is retiring its CV580s in 2021. CV580 Combi ZK-CIB made her last scheduled passenger/freight flight on July 23, 2021 from Wellington International Airport to the Chatham Islands, New Zealand. It’s not quite the end of the line for the Convair as she still has a few charter flights left to complete. The aircraft was built in 1953 as a CV340 and converted to a CV580 in 1969 by North Central Airlines. It was acquired by Air Chathams in May 1996 and has been in service with the airline ever since. Tim Gorman/ZKaviation photographed the aircraft at Wellington International Airport on the 23rd being loaded, taxiing out to a water salute from the Wellington Airport Fire Service and its takeoff on runway 16. For more information, check out my June 7, 2021 and July 4, 2021 reports.
June 2021 Abbotsford Propliner Update – July 27, 2021
Ken Swartz visited Conair Aerial Firefighting at Abbotsford International Airport on June 21, 2021 and provided the following report and photos. "I walked the ramp at Conair at Abbotsford Airport today! The DC-6Bs are long gone but I did see the following air tankers - one L-188 Electra; three Convair 580s (two with tanks removed); one RJ85; one AT-802; one FireBoss; plus one former FlyBe Q400. I also noted former Atlantic Airliners Electra C-GYCG and S-2 FireCats C-GHDY T73 and C-FJOH T76 stored across the field at Cascade Aerospace for Buffalo Airways. In addition, Government of Saskatchewan S-2 Trackers C-GEQC T504 and C-GEQE T506 and one unmarked former Canadian Navy Tracker were stored at The University of The Fraser Valley’s Aerospace Centre. The Navy Tracker has been there since 2006."
From Ken’s report, it appears that Conair’s once impressive boneyard has been cleared out with aircraft either being scrapped (most of the S-2 Firecats) or moved across the airport to the Cascade and university ramps. With three CV580s at Abbotsford and C-GYXC recently sold to Buffalo and stored engineless in Red Deer, it appears likely that the remainder of the fleet is on-station fighting wildfires. In the past, two CV580s were based at Palmer, Alaska but this year a single CV580 is sharing firefighting duties with one of Conair’s new Q400 firebombers. 2021 could very well could be the last year a CV580 is assigned to Palmer.
For more information about Conair’s operations, check out Ken’s article in the current issue of Skies, Canada’s national aviation magazine.
Buffalo Airways Acquires CV580 – July 26, 2021
Buffalo Airways recently acquired C-GYXC T42 from Conair Aerial Firefighting. As reported on May 19, 2021, Conair is modernizing its tanker fleet and will be retiring its fleet of CV580 firebombers over the next few years. As reported on Ruud Leeuw’s Aviation History and Photography website, Buffalo acquired the aircraft for its engines and posted of photo of the aircraft at Conair’s base in Abbotsford, BC. Ty Novak posted photos of the aircraft parked engineless at Buffalo’s maintenance base at Red Deer, AB, still in Conair colors. The engines are undoubtedly going to be used to keep Buffalo’s Electras flying. Many thanks to Ty for allowing me to post his photos.
Time is Short for New Zealand CV580 – July 4, 2021
As reported on June 7, 2021 Air Chathams is retiring its remaining CV-580s in 2021 with ZK-CIE already put out to pasture. The airline plans on retiring its last CV580 in September and Tim Gorman/ZKaviation photographed ZK-CIB departing Wellington International Airport a few days ago on July 2nd. This aircraft is operated in a "combi" configuration and is probably the last passenger carrying Convair in operation.
Four More Convairs Scrapped in May – June 19, 2021
As reported on May 23rd, former Norlinor CV580 C-FTAP has been saved from the scrapman and was donated to the Time Air Historical Society, where it will be preserved and put on static display. That’s the good news…the bad news is that the remaining Norlinor CV580 fleet was scrapped at Mirabel, Quebec in May 2021. The aircraft scrapped were C-FAWV, C-FHNM, C-GQHB and C-GRLQ. Ken Swartz forwarded the following report and photos. "Air Spray bought Nolinor’s fleet of Convair 580s for their Allison 501 engines and propellers to keep its fleet of Lockheed L-188 flying. Apparently, a condition of the sale was that the Convair 580s had to be removed within 30 days since their parking spot at Nolinor was going to be redeveloped. Most of the Conair’s were scrapped at Mirabel International Airport in May 2021, with the exception of C-FTAP which was donated by Air Spray to the Time Air Historical Society in Lethbridge, Alberta. This aircraft has to be removed from the airport within six months." many thanks to Ken for his report and photos.
Alaskan Convair Scrapped – June 12, 2021
On April 2, 2021 I reported that CV240/T-29 N153PA was scheduled to be scrapped in the very near future. On June 4th, with her engines and other useful components removed, the aircraft was reduced to a pile of metal at Anchorage International Airport. The Convair had not flown for many years and didn’t fit Desert Air Alaska’s business plan.
Former Miami Air Lease N150PA is the sole remaining near-airworthy CV-240/T-29 and it is currently parked at Miami Homestead General Aviation Airport with a very uncertain future. As enthusiasts, we’d love to see them all saved but we’re not paying the bills to keep them "alive" and the reality is that Propliners will continue to be scrapped. As we’ve seen in the past few years, even museum aircraft are not exempt.
CV580 Retired From Passenger Service – June 7, 2021
On October 7, 2020, this website reported that New Zealand operator Air Chathams planned on retiring its CV580 aircraft in 2021 and replacing them with ATR-72s. Sadly this has come to pass with Tim Gorman/ZKaviation reporting that Air Chathams recently retired CV580 ZK-CIE, which had been in service with the airline since 1997. "The last airworthy fully passenger configured Convair 580 in scheduled service in the world, ZK-CIE is grounded, and will after 64 years not fly again. Air Chathams final remaining Convair 580 ZK-CIB is a "Combi" which has the capability of carrying passengers and freight at the same time." With Air Chathams reporting that all CV580s will be retired by September 2021, there’s not too much time left to get a ride on ZK-CIB. If you can’t hitch a ride on the real thing, AIRCLIPS has produced a 31 minute video documenting a flight onboard ZK-CIE that is very much worth watching.
Many thanks to Tim for his report and photos.
Convair Eludes the Scrapman – May 23, 2021
As reported on May 3rd, former Nolinor Aviation CV580 C-FTAP was in imminent danger of being scrapped. I’m happy to report that the aircraft has been spared and was recently acquired by the Time Air Historical Society. It was the last passenger configured CV580 operating in North American. Since the engines have been removed, it will be transported from Montreal to Lethbridge, Alberta by road. With Conair retiring its CV580 fleet, hopefully a set of runout Allisons and props can be acquired for the aircraft. The society announced the acquisition in a quirky video that was recently posted on YouTube. With all the bad Convair news lately, this is great news indeed and kudos to the society for saving this aircraft.
Conair Fleet Modernization Update – May 19, 2021
As reported on March 1st and April 5th, Conair is replacing its vintage Electra and CV580 firebombers with Q400s. Ken Swartz recently provided some additional insight. "Conair retired L-188 C-FYYJ T60 last year and replaced it with a Q400AT for the 2021 season. The engines and propellers from the Electra will be used to support the eight aircraft CV580 fleet. Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources is contracting one Q400AT and one Convair 580 this summer. Conair bought two Q400s from Angola in 2019 and 11 ex-FlyBe Q400s in January 2021. They have the capacity to convert three to four Q400s to air tankers a year since they also have to maintain more than 60 aircraft in their current fleet. Conair still has to deliver three Q400MR’s to France under an existing contract. Since the Dash 8-400 production line is “pausing” this summer, they have bought two aircraft off the production line now … ahead of the scheduled delivery date to France."
Paraguayan CV240 Rescue – May 15, 2021 - Updated May 18, 2021
After all the recent bad news regarding twin Convairs, there is finally some good news. A group of Paraguayan aviation enthusiasts have set out to rescue former Líneas Aéreas Paraguayas - LAP CV240 ZP-CDO from its longtime parking spot at Silvio Pettirossi International Airport in Asunción, Paraguay. The aircraft flew for LAP from 1963 to 1972, when it was retired and parked at the airport. It was placed on display in 1997 and time has definitely taken its toll on the aircraft. On May 1, 2021 volunteers moved it from this location to a hangar at the airport where it will undergo restoration and eventually placed on display. There are no plans to make the aircraft airworthy. Ron Mak photographed the Convair in 1979 and Arie Meijvogel in 2010, 2016 and 2019. It’s good to see that the #2 top engine cowling that was missing in the 2016 photo was back in place in 2019.
The group is looking for CV240 parts to replace missing items from the aircraft. Desert Air Alaska is currently scrapping CV240/T-29 N153PA and I provided contact information to the group. Timing isn’t the greatest as CV240 N1022C was scrapped in Apopka, Florida in July 2020, with the bulk of the airframe headed to local scrapyards. This airframe was intact with a complete cockpit and a 1960’s vintage interior from its service with Mohawk Airlines. There are also a number of CV240 stored at Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio but I wasn’t able to provide any contact information regarding these aircraft. Alejandro Julián Dávalos Sotomayor provided current photos and work has begun on giving the old girl a good cleaning!
If you have any info on the whereabouts of any CV240 parts or airframes, you can email Jorge Prieto or Alejandro Dávalos Sotomayor. For more information about the project, check out this article. Unfortunately it’s in Spanish but Google Translate works well.
Another Convair Faces Scrapping – May 3, 2021
The Time Air Historic Society recently reported on Facebook that the engines have been removed from Nolinor Aviation CV580 C-FTAP and that the aircraft is in imminent danger of being scrapped. The engines were reportedly sold to Air Spray. This former Time Air aircraft and its possible demise is but another example of the slow but steady decline in the population of both airworthy and non-airworthy twin Convairs.
Q400 Firebomber to Replace CV580s – April 5, 2021 - Updated April 16, 2021 & June 5, 2021
As reported on March 1, 2021, Conair has already retired Electra C-FYYJ and plans on retiring their fleet of CV580 firebombers over the next few years. They will be replaced with former Flybe Q400’s. G-KKEV arrived in late February and is already well into the conversion process at Conair’s maintenance facility in Abbotsford, BC. By mid-March the aircraft’s interior has been stripped down to the bare airframe, which will reduce weight and maximize its fire retardant load. The conversion is expected to take about 75 days and a second Q400, G-ECOJ, arrived in Abbotsford in late March. Conair has acquired eleven former Flybe Q400's and, doing the math, it should take about two years to convert all of them to firebombers. So---best case, the iconic Convairs will remain in service for two more years. They have been around for many years and will be missed! For more information, check out this February 24, 2021 FlightGlobal article.
UPDATE - KEN SWARTZ PROVIDED THE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION RE CONAIR'S INVOLVEMENT WITH THE Q400. "Conair had already converted two (?) Q400s for their own fleet and several for France before the arrival of the Q400s from FlyBe. The first with a pair of ex-SAS Commuter Q400s converted for France about 15 years that were true multi-role aircraft with quick change cargo/passenger interiors. Then Conair won a contract to delivery five new Q400s to France over a few years. These were purchased new from DHC, received their quick change interiors at the Flying Colors’ facility in St Louis, and then fly to Abbotsford to get their retardant tank. Then they bought two used Q400s to convert for their own fleet, which can carry more payload than the French aircraft that have a full interior. The first operational use of a Q400 was on a fire was in Australia in late 2020 or early 2021. Then, recently Conair bought the 11 Q400s from FlyBe."
Ken also wrote an interesting article about Conair's Dash 8-Q400 conversion program in the June/July 2021 digital issue of Skies Magazine.
Another Convair to be Scrapped – April 2, 2021
I recently received a report that Desert Air CV240/T-29 N153PA was going to be scrapped in the very near future with its two R2800 engines going to Everts. I contacted Desert Air owner Joey Benetka who confirmed that indeed the aircraft is being scrapped. While N153PA appeared to be in good condition, it hadn’t flown for many years and didn’t fit into Joey’s business plan. Joey plans on operating the DC-3 for years to come so this is yet another example of the DC-3 outlasting its so-called "replacement."
Conair Replacing Electra and CV580s with Q400s – March 1, 2021
Conair has retired Electra C-FYYJ Tanker #60 and it was recently noted parked engineless at Conair’s Abbotsford, BC base. The Electra will be replaced, along with the CV580s over the next few years by eleven former Flybe Q400s. According to an article published on the Fire Aviation website, the first Q400 has arrived in Abbotsford after the long ferry flight from Europe. It’s sad that the Electra and Convairs are being retired and hopefully some will find homes with other operators. I've included a photo taken of the Electra in better times by John Olafson at Campbell River, BC on September 3, 2015.
Opa-locka Airport Visit – February 23, 2021
I visited Conquest Air Cargo at Opa-locka Airport (OPF) on February 18, 2021 and I'm happy to report that the company appears to be prospering in these uncertain times. It had been two years since I last visited with Tony Merton Jones in January 2019 and during this time the airport has undergone an amazing transformation. The Miami Air Lease hangar has been torn down; the Concours Club two mile racetrack has been completed and is surrounded by a tall wall; Bombardier is building a 300,000 square foot service center at the east end of the airport; and sleek executive jets have replaced the once plentiful Propliners that once called OPF home. Business appears to be very good at the field’s two FBOs; Signature Flight Support and Atlantic Aviation.
Conquest moved from the southeast corner of the airport to a ramp adjacent to the tower and the Coast Guard hangar about a year ago. While the airline business as a whole has been crushed by the pandemic, this has not been the case for freight carriers flying cargo from Miami to the Bahamas. Carlos Gomez told me that the company normally schedules four daily roundtrip flights a day between OPF and Nassau using a wet leased IFL Group CV580 and one of their CV340s. Amazon Prime packages make up a large percentage of the loads with six to eight flights a day being flown during the very busy 2020 Christmas holiday season. The IFL CV580 is operated under Part 121 and can carry twice the weight carried by Conquest's CV340's, which are operated under Part 135 and limited to 7,500 lbs.
Conquest currently operates three CV340s and a wet leased IFL CV580 including CV340's N342GS "Truman"; N343GS "Uriel"; N345GS "Alice"; and IFL CV580 N141FL. The CV340’s are assigned flights on a rotating basis with all being flown regularly. All appeared to be in excellent condition. N343GS was scheduled to fly and a crew was finishing up loading the aircraft when I arrived at 7:00am. Engine start happened at 7:50am with the aircraft taking off on runway 9L for Nassau under the command of Captain Eddie Blanco twenty minutes later at 8:10am. The IFL co-pilot was busy doing his preflight inspection on the CV580 and, shortly after the departure of N343GS, loading of the CV580 began. With the aircraft fully loaded with about 14,000 lbs of cargo, it departed at 9:20am on the first of two roundtrips to Nassau. Carlos expects continued growth in the Bahamas market, which could result in the addition of a second IFL CV580, or possibly a CV5800, later this year. He says that there are currently no plans to retire the CV340s, which will be used for contract work and as backup aircraft. In addition, all three can be quickly converted to sprayers for oil dispersant work.
New and stricter federal regulations are scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2021, which would mandate explosive safety inspections of all cargo being loaded onto aircraft weighing more than 12,500 pounds. This would be very expensive to implement and will involve either hiring “sniffer” dogs from a third party contractor or purchasing expensive “sniffer” equipment. As so frequently happens, the rule wasn't well thought out and doesn't include the multitude of Part 135 carriers flying smaller aircraft that operate from remote locations feeding large carriers such as Fed Ex and UPS.
Martin Aguero, who has worked with Carlos for 30+ years gave me a quick windshield tour of the airport. I was amazed to see all the bizjets and also somewhat surprised to see all of the parked airliners. I asked Martin if they were being scrapped and he said that they are being stored. Longtime B707 N88ZL had finally been scrapped and I believe that most, if not all, of the Antonov’s that had been part of the airport scenery for so many years had also met a similar fate. Miami Air Lease is no longer in business and CV440 N41527 had been scrapped with CV240 N150PA currently parked at Homestead General Aviation Airport. TMF also ceased operations a few years ago and Super DC-3 N587MB was flown to LaBelle, Florida and parked. On a brighter note, Atlantic Air Cargo's DC-3 N705GB is still parked near the Signature hangar and occasionally flies. Florida Air Cargo's three DC-3s N15MA, N271SE and N138FS were all parked on the company's ramp and I believe they are all operational. During my short visit I witnessed the two Convairs taking off for the Bahamas but no DC-3 activity.
I’d like to thank Carlos, Martin and all the folks I met during my visit for their hospitality. It was a nice visit and hopefully it won’t be two years before I visit again.
FCA Airparts Salvage Yard – October 21, 2020
When CV240 N1022C was scrapped at Apopka, Florida in July 2020, its major components scattered to various destinations. The R2800 engines went to an engine rebuilder in California; interior components to Scroggins Aviation Mockup & Effects in California; the fuselage to a nearby scrapyard in Apopka; and the nose section to the FCA Airparts salvage yard in Leesburg, Florida. Leesburg is no more than a 20 minute drive from my home and after calling ahead to get an OK for the visit, I headed to Leesburg to have a look around the yard. I’ve passed by the yard many times but, since it contained mostly small general aviation aircraft and bizjets, it didn’t pique my interest until the CV240 nose section took up residence. I’ve owned and flown a number of GA aircraft and, other than being surprised by the number of aircraft carcasses inside the yard, I was a bit saddened by the sight. Each one of these aircraft had been someone’s pride and joy at one time and was now just so much discarded scrap metal. The Convair nose section stood out and I quickly photographed it before moving onto to take a slow walk around the yard.
Another interesting resident of the yard was GAF Nomad N22B N422NE, which was on floats. The aircraft was painted yellow and it took a bit of detective work afterwards to confirm its identity. While Nomads are a rare in this part of the world, a Nomad on floats was a truly interesting find. It had been based at Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport for a number of years before finally making its way to the Leesburg salvage yard.
I'm not a helicopter guy but it was hard to ignore two Aerospatiale SA330J Puma helicopters parked towards the rear of the yard. While they’re not Propliners, I’ve included some photos of the helicopters and various aircraft I saw at this very interesting aviation graveyard.
Air Chathams Announces CV580 Phased Retirement – October 07, 2020
Air Chathams recently announced that it will be retiring its CV580 fleet in 2021. 'The pandemic has changed the size of our business and as such we have been required to relook at what we do and how we do it. Through that process we have decided to expedite the transition of the ATR-72 onto the Chatham Islands service. We are excited to announce that this is only a few weeks away from happening. Our beautiful Convairs will remain in operation through until 2021 when we will start to phase them out completely. It will be a sad day when we witness our last Convair service. They have been the backbone of our airline for a quarter century!' The company currently operates 50-pax ZK-CIE; freighter ZK-KFL; and combi ZK-CIB.
OLD NEWS – Miami Air Lease Ceases Operations – July 31, 2020 - UPDATED September 12, 2020
I haven’t been to Opa-locka Airport (OPF) for quite a while so I totally missed the news that Miami Air Lease had ceased operations over a year ago. I knew that CV440 N41527 had been grounded for a number of years due to a failed engine but had seen CV240 N150PA in action as late as June 2017 making flights to the Bahamas. I reported on March 6, 2020 that the CV440 had been scrapped. What I totally missed was that Miami Air Lease had ceased flying altogether and that N150PA had been flown to Miami Homestead General Aviation Airport on November 12, 2019 and parked.
With the demise of Miami Air Lease, there are only three Propliner operators remaining at OPF. Florida Air Cargo currently operates three DC-3s; Atlantic Air Cargo a single DC-3; and Conquest Air Cargo three CV340s and a CV580 leased from IFL.
UPDATE – Andrew Rowbotham photographed N150PA at Miami-Homestead GA Airport in February 2020 where the airplane looked complete and in good condition. If you have an updated status and/or photo of the aircraft, please email it to me and I will post it.
Apopka CV240 Scrapped – July 28, 2020
While it came as no big surprise, it's sad to note that CV240 N1022C was cut up this past weekend at Orlando-Apopka Airport in Florida. Doug Scroggins acquired the airplane in 2017 from the Museum of Commercial Aviation and had been unsuccessful in his quest to find a new home for it. Even though it had an original Mohawk Airlines passenger interior, none of the museums Doug contacted were interested in the aircraft.
The Convair was delivered to American Airlines as N94270 in February 1949 and flew for the airline for 10+ years before being sold to Mohawk Airlines in November 1959. Mohawk traded it to Fairchild in January 1967 as partial payment on the new FH227’s that the airline was buying from Fairchild. For the next 14 years it was owned/operated by a number of leasing companies and small airlines before Trans Florida Airlines acquired it in 1981. TFA operated it around Florida until the mid-1990s when it was parked at Daytona Beach International Airport with a number of the airline’s other Convairs.
Propliners of America acquired it in 2006 and retired National Airlines/Pan American captain Leroy Brown acquired it in August 2009. Leroy spent $60,000 to have it disassembled and moved to Orlando-Apopka Airport, where it was reassembled in October 2009. Leroy was president of the U.S. Airline Industry Museum Foundation (USAIMF) and the aircraft was the museum’s centerpiece.
USAIMF shut its doors in early 2014 and ownership of the aircraft was transferred to the National Museum of Commercial Aviation, which was based in Atlanta, Georgia. Other than a coat of paint and the Pan Am meatballs that Leroy applied to the tail, the aircraft had seen little attention at the airport and it continued to deteriorate under its new ownership. While the museum had plans to move the aircraft to Atlanta, this never happened and it closed in 2017 (or possibly 2016). Doug Scroggins acquired the airplane in 2017 and, as previously noted, attempted to find a new home for this iconic airliner. The folks at Orlando-Apopka Airport wanted it gone and, with zero prospects of a new owner, it was only a matter of time before it would be cut up. The process of scrapping the airplane began on Friday July 24th and by Monday the 27th the airplane had been chopped.
There is a bit of good news…the forward fuselage will be made into to a flight simulator; the engines are going to a rebuilder in California; the seats, hat racks and other interior components along with the rear exit door are going to Scroggins Aviation & Mockup & Effects for use as motion picture props; and the props are probably going to wind up as oversized wall ornaments in someone’s house, business or hangar. The remainder of the aircraft will be reduced to scrap metal.
I found a detailed history of the Convair that I believe was originally compiled by Bill Bradshaw and I updated it. Here’s a link to a PDF of the list.
Dynamic Aviation Acquires C-131F BuNo 141025 – June 28, 2020
Dynamic Aviation recently acquired former U.S. Navy C-131F/CV340 BuNo 141025 from Carlos Gomez. Carlos had purchased the Convair from the Australian museum group Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) earlier in 2020, with the thought of possibly converting it to a freighter or using it as a spares airplane. As reported on April 11, 2019, the aircraft had become redundant to the museum's needs as a result of their 2016 acquisition of former Rovos Air CV340 ZS-ARV. HARS acquired 141025 about 15 years ago and it was moved to the restoration area of Pima Air & Space Museum. HARS volunteers had been working on it off and on since February 2008 preparing it for its anticipated Tucson to Sydney, Australia delivery flight.
While the aircraft is in relatively good condition and it wouldn’t take too much to get it airworthy, Karl Stoltzfus of Dynamic Aviation told me that he plans on parting it out. Dynamic Aviation is deep into the major restoration of VC-121A “Columbine II” and Karl is not looking to undertake another major large aircraft restoration at this time. Not a great ending for the Convair but its parts will most definitely go to keeping other aircraft flying.
Conquest Air Cargo Update – June 28, 2020
Conquest Air Cargo has supplemented its fleet of three CV340/C-131F aircraft with a CV580 leased from IFL Group. The lease includes flightcrew and Carlos Gomez confirmed that operations began about two months ago. While the CV340s operate under Conquest’s Part 135 certificate limiting their load to 7,500 pounds, the CV580 is operated under IFL’s Part 121 certificate with no such limit. As a result, the CV580 can carry roughly double the load of Conquest aircraft at comparable operating costs.
On a sad note, Carlos told me that YS-11A XA-UFJ/N775GS was recently scrapped at Opa-locka. The aircraft was acquired in 2018 and ferried from Hondo, Texas to Opa-locka Airport on December 29, 2018. The plan was to build a small fleet of YS-11 freighters with the addition of two or three near-airworthy aircraft parked in Satilla, Mexico. But, acquiring a clear title and ferrying them to the United States proved to be a near impossible task, even for Carlos. That, along with difficulties in overhauling RR Dart engines and the availability of a leased IFL CV580 made the venture impractical and it was decided to scrap the aircraft.
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.
NTSB Releases Final Report on Conquest Air Cargo Convair Crash - April 11, 2020
The NTSB released its final report on the February 8, 2019 crash of Conquest Air Cargo's CV340/C-131F N145GT. The aircraft crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on its return flight from Nassau, where it had dropped off a load of cargo. The report attributes the accident to “the captain’s decision to continue with the flight with a malfunctioning left engine propeller control and the subsequent loss of engine power on both engines for undetermined reasons.” A contributing factor “was the first officer’s failure to challenge the captain.” While the first officer survived, sadly the captain was killed in the accident.
Former Miami Air Lease CV440 Scrapped at Opa-locka Airport - March 6, 2020
As reported on September 16, 2019, Conquest Air Cargo acquired former Miami Air Lease CV440 N41527 for spare parts. Conquest wasted little time in harvesting the Convair's valuable parts as evidenced by Ricardo Jimenez's recent photo. Up until just a few years ago, N41527 was active with Miami Air Lease flying cargo out of Opa-locka. While I'm sorry to see another Propliner scrapped, its parts will help ensure that Conquest's three Convairs continue flying.
NTSB Issues "Aviation Accident Factual Report" on Conquest Air Cargo C-131B Crash – December 23, 2019
The NTSB recently issued an Aviation Accident Factual Report about the February 8, 2019 crash of C-131B N145GT.
On February 8, 2019, at 1216 eastern standard time, a General Dynamics Convair 340 (C-131B), N145GT, was destroyed during a ditching in the Atlantic Ocean about 32 miles east of Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport (OPF), Miami, Florida. The captain was fatally injured, and the first officer was seriously injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by Conquest Air, Inc., as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 cargo flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed. The flight departed Lynden Pindling International Airport (MYNN), Nassau, Bahamas, at 1113.
The accident occurred during a return trip to OPF. The first officer stated that, for the first flight of the day (from OPF to MYNN), the preflight inspection, engine start, taxi, and engine run-up were normal and that about 900 gallons of fuel was on board. The flight to MYNN was normal until the first officer, who was the pilot monitoring, attempted to adjust the left engine propeller control for the speed for cruise flight, yet there was no movement on the gauge, and the power was stuck at 2,400 rpm. The first officer tried to reset the propeller control circuit breaker but was unable to do so. The captain stabilized power on both engines, and the remainder of the flight to MYNN was uneventful. After the airplane landed, the captain asked the first officer to send a text message to maintenance control, but the message did not transmit. The captain told the first officer not to worry and indicated that, if they were unable to reset the propeller control on the ground during the engine run-up, then they would shut down the airplane and call maintenance.
The first officer stated that, before the accident flight began, the engines started normally, and both propellers were cycled. The captain and the first officer were able to reset the left propeller control, so the airplane departed for OPF. The first officer was the pilot flying, and he stated that the airplane was operating normally during the takeoff and initial climb; however, as the airplane climbed through 4,000 ft, the left engine propeller control stopped working, and the power was again stuck at 2,400 rpm. The captain tried to adjust the propeller control and inadvertently increased power to 2,700 rpm. The captain then took control of the airplane and stabilized the power on both engines. He leveled the airplane at 4,500 ft, canceled the IFR flight plan, and flew via visual flight rules direct to OPF. The first officer suggested that they return to MYNN, but the captain wanted to continue to OPF (OPF was located about 160 nautical miles west-northwest of MYNN). The first officer indicated that he did not want to disagree with the captain's decision given the captain's "extensive" experience.
The flight proceeded normally until the beginning of the descent (the first officer did not remember the altitude) to 1,500 ft, when the right engine began to surge and lose power. The first officer stated that the captain turned on both boost pumps and tried to stabilize the right engine with the mixture and throttle but that the engine began to backfire and shake "violently" with variations in the brake mean effective pressure (BMEP), fuel pressure, fuel flow indications, rpm, and manifold pressure. At that point, the flight crew performed the engine failure emergency checklist. As part of the checklist, the right engine was feathered, and the mixture was brought to the cutoff position. The first officer reported that, shortly afterward, the left engine also began to surge and shake "violently" with the same variations experienced after the right engine began to surge. At that point, the captain tried to control the left engine, and the first officer declared an emergency.
The first officer stated that, as the captain maneuvered the airplane to ditch, the airplane impacted the water "violently." During the impact, the first officer struck his head hard on the instrument panel. The first officer unbuckled his harness and saw the captain slumped over in his seat and unresponsive. He tried to lift the captain from his seat but was not able to do so. The first officer realized that he needed to get out of the airplane when the water inside the cockpit was chest high. The first officer stated that he kicked open the cockpit door and saw that the tail had separated from the empennage. He grabbed the life raft and exited from the tail of the airplane. He was rescued by a US Coast Guard helicopter.
The first officer stated that he did not know what caused the engines to lose power. According to the operator, "at the first sign of a mechanical malfunction the crew should have landed as soon as practicable."
The captain held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single- and multiengine land and instrument airplane. He held type ratings for the Boeing 727 and 737; the Convair 240, 340, and 440; and LR-JET. The operator reported that the captain had 23,000 hours total flight experience, of which 725 hours were in the accident airplane make and model. The captain also held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first-class medical certificate dated January 22, 2019.
The first officer held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single- and multiengine land and instrument airplane. He held type ratings in the Convair 240, 340, and 440 (second-in-command privileges only). The operator reported that the first officer had 650 hours total flight experience, of which 305 hours were in the accident airplane. The first officer also held an FAA first-class medical dated August 25, 2018.
The airplane was equipped with two Pratt & Whitney R-2800CB3 radial engines and two Hamilton Sunstrand 43E60-377 propellers that were being maintained under an approved aircraft inspection program. The airplane's last inspection was on the day before the accident. At that time, the left engine had accrued 1,943 hours, the right engine had accrued about 417 hours, and the airframe had accrued about 12,701 hours.
WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION
The left wing washed ashore. The rest of the airplane was not recovered from the ocean. Thus, the engines could not be examined and tested to determine the cause of the failures.
Oakland County International Airport Convairs - October 27, 2019
Oakland County International Airport (PTK), Michigan is home to IFL Group headquarters and the company's maintenance base. IFL operates a fleet of CV580/CV5800 aircraft and Karl Smalley reports that on October 12, 2019 there was a C-131F and two CV580 aircraft stored adjacent to the company’s maintenance hangar. C-131F N8149P was acquired in June 2011 and is a former Beaufort County Mosquito Control (South Carolina) bug sprayer. In June 2016 it was advertised for sale for $75,000 but apparently there were no takers. CV580s N51211 and N51255 were acquired from General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems Inc. in October 2011. They were purchased as parts airplanes since neither aircraft has a cargo door.
Final Accident Report – CV 340 ZS-BRV – September 26, 2019
The South African Civil Aviation Authority issued a final report on the July 10, 2018 accident involving CV340 ZS-BRV. It’s very interesting reading about a very tragic event.
CV440 Crashes on Final Approach to Toledo-Express Airport – September 16, 2019
CV440 N24DR was totally destroyed and two crew members killed when it crashed and caught fire on final approach to Toledo-Express Airport (TOL) at 2:38am on September 11, 2019. The aircraft had departed Millington-Memphis Airport (NQA) and was less than a mile from the runway threshold at TOL when it crashed into the parking lot of Bubba’s Mobile Truck Repair & Heavy Duty Towing. FAA records indicate the aircraft was owned by Douglas R. Taylor, who was identified as one of the crewmembers killed in the crash.
The aircraft was based in Laredo, Texas and has been quite active during recent years flying cargo as noted in a February 26, 2019 report on this website. N24DR was one of four Convairs flying freight in the United States, with the other three operated by Conquest Air Cargo out of Opa-locka Airport (OPF) in south Florida. Conquest lost C-131B/CV340 N145GT on February 8, 2019 when it ditched into the Atlantic on a flight from the Bahamas to OPF. For additional information about the September 11th accident,check out the Aviation Safety Network website.
Conquest Air Cargo Acquires CV440 – September 16, 2019
Conquest Air Cargo acquired former Miami Air Lease CV440 N41527 in August 2019. The aircraft experienced an engine failure a few years ago and hasn’t flown since. I spoke to Conquest Air Cargo co-owner Carlos Gomez who told me that he plans on using the Convair as a spares airplane.
CV340 Delivered to Yankee Air Museum – September 16, 2019
As reported on February 10, 2019 the Yankee Air Museum acquired former Contract Air Cargo/IFL Group C-131B/CV340 N7813B in 2017 and was preparing it for the short ferry flight from Oakland County International Airport (PTK) to the museum’s headquarters at Willow Run Airport (YIP) in Ypsilanti, MI. The flight was delayed in February due to a stack fire in one of the engines but on September 6, 2019, under the command of veteran Convair pilots Captain Jerry Nichols and Captain Gunner Ingle, the aircraft was ferried to Willow Run Airport. This was the aircraft's final flight as the museum plans on making it a static display. At this point it hasn’t been decided in what colors the airplane will be painted. The below photos were taken shortly after the aircraft arrived at the museum.
Former SAS Convair Lingers on at Oslo’s Gardermoen Airport – July 7, 2019
The sad remains of former SAS CV440 LN-MAP were recently noted by Antti Hyvärinen parked adjacent to runway 1R/19L at Oslo’s Gardermoen Airport. The aircraft flew for SAS for twenty years before being sold to Nor-Fly in December 1976. Withdrawn from use in October 1982, the aircraft was used for fire practice at Oslo’s Fornebu Airport before being moved to Gardermoen after that airport closed in 1998. From the photos it appears that the aircraft is beyond restoration but one can never tell. Hopefully there is a future for the remains of this aircraft.
CV580 Fuselage for Sale – June 6, 2019
The remains of CV580 ZK-KFH were recently offered for sale in New Zealand. The aircraft was delivered to United Airlines in January 1953 as N73123 and went on to fly with Lake Central, Mountain West, NorFly, Ryan Air, All Canada Express, Air Freight NZ before finally being acquired by Air Chathams in 2007. The Convair has been stripped of useful components and the owner will remove the landing gear, wings and provide assistance in preparing the fuselage for transport. For more information about the aircraft, contact the owner by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 0064 274 97 3658.
Honeywell Convair Retired – April 28, 2019
Honeywell retired CV580 N580HW earlier this month after a remarkable 67+ year flying career. According to an article posted on Honeywell's website, the airplane will soon make its way to Kelowna, BC where Barry LaPointe of KF Aerospace is planning an aviation museum. KF Aerospace currently holds the CV240-580 type certificate and, in years past, produced the stretched CV5800. N580HW was the second CV340 built and made its first flight in January 1952. It was used by Convair for development testing before delivery to United Airlines in September 1952 as N73102 “Omaha.” N73102 flew for United until 1966 when it was sold to Frontier Airlines and converted to a CV580 with the installation of Allison turboprop engines. Frontier operated the aircraft until 1979 when it went to Gem State Airlines. Stored at Marana in 1981 it went on to fly with Aspen Airways before Allied Signal acquired the aircraft in early 1992 and re-registered it N580AS. Honeywell acquired Allied Signal in 1999 and it was subsequently re-registered N580HW.
N580HW was a workhorse in the area of weather radar development. Stripped of its passenger interior, it was filled with a multitude of electronic equipment used to record data collected during test flights. Honeywell Engineers would use the data recorded on the test flights to create systems known today as the Enhanced Proximity Warning System (EPWS), Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS), and the IntuVue RDR-4000 radar system.
The Convair leaves a legacy of helping Honeywell develop some of the most important safety innovations in the world of aviation. According to the Honeywell article, the aircraft has a total of 67,000 flight hours with 103,000 landings!
UPDATE: N580HW MADE HER FINAL FLIGHT FROM BOISE, IDAHO TO KELOWNA ON SEPTEMBER 28, 2019.
HARS C-131F For Sale – April 11, 2019
Jim Marshall issued a statement on Facebook yesterday announcing that Australia’s Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) was selling their C-131F, which had been under restoration in Tucson, Arizona for a number of years. I’m not sure how Jim is affiliated with HARS, but the statement appears to have been issued by the organization. "Reluctantly HARS (Australia's top aircraft museum) is prepared to part with this aircraft which is nearing flying condition due to our acquisition of a similar type [ VH-TAA] from South Africa. The aircraft was built as S/N 308 and as 141025 was delivered to the US Navy, its last major overhaul was on the 28 August 1982 and had flown 1359 .7 hours and 5741 landings when retired on the 18 Sep 1984." (editor's note...total hours are probably more likely to be in the neighborhood of 13,000 hours rather than the 1359.7 hours stated.)
"HARS commenced work in February 2008 and since then a great deal of work and about 80% of the AD's have been satisfied, it seems the Navy have incorporated most of them but this has to be verified, the general condition is good but as it hasn't been worked for over a year re-inspection will be required. The starboard engine has 191 hours out of 2600 TBO and was last run in December 2016, filters were checked clear at this time. The Port engine has 952.9 hours out of 2600 and was last run in December 2016 at which time the filters were checked clear, the carburetor is not fitted."
"The aircraft has a galley fitted [ex DC9] and a compliment of cabin chairs although it requires reupholstering as do the cockpit seats, there are a few instruments missing and the autopilot amplifier. There are a number of spares on board including a full set of new tires. All in all the aircraft is in good condition and could be brought to flying condition in a short time with a small crew. Further details are available from HARS President Bob De La Hunty through the HARS website."
The aircraft joins Desert Air’s T-29B N153PA and IFL Group’s C-131F N8149P on the used Convair sales market. With only a handful of piston engine Convairs still flying today, the market for these aircraft is very limited.
Desert Air Alaska Changes Ownership – March 1, 2019 (April 4, 2019 Update)
Joey Benetka recently announced that he had purchased Desert Air Alaska from longtime operator Dennis Gladwin. Desert Air is based at Anchorage International Airport and the airline owns two DC-3s and a T-29B/CV240. While the two DC-3s have been very active during my Alaska visits, I've never seen the Convair in action. When I was in Anchorage four years ago, the Convair was in excellent condition and I was told that it could be made airworthy quickly if demand warranted. The company’s website states “We fly freight to over 200 locations in Alaska. We can get your cargo to where it needs to be. Desert Air Alaska is a charter freight service offering large haul capacity to rural runways and remote sites. Smooth, direct and reliable - we have a host of services like HAZMAT and oversize freight accommodation with no extra handling fees.” For more information about Desert Air, check out the company website. I wish Joey luck and hope to meet him when I visit Alaska in May.
Joey announced on March 21st that T-29B/CV240 N153PA and associated spare parts were for sale. This is not unexpected since I don't believe it has flown much, if any, in the past years.
CV440 Soldiers On In Laredo, Texas - February 26, 2019 (Updated April 4, 2019)
Ron Lambert Jr. photographed CV440 N24DR on February 10, 2019 at Laredo International Airport. The aircraft is owned by Neal Wayne Barker and appears to be based at the airport. Loads often include auto parts and FlightAware shows that it's been quite busy lately with multiple flights in November and December 2018 and February 2019. No flights were recorded in January when perhaps the aircraft was undergoing maintenance. N24DR was delivered to SAS as OY-KPD in January 1957 and flew for the airline until it was sold to Linjeflyg as SE-CCV in November 1969. It went to Great Lakes Airlines as CF-GLM in July 1973 and to 393 Inc as N24DR in May 1977. The Convair passed through a few more owners before Neal Wayne Barker acquired it in December 1994.
With the recent loss of Conquest Air Cargo’s CV340/C-131B N145GT the number of active Convairs in the United States continues to dwindle with less than a half dozen in use. In addition to N24DR, Conquest Air Cargo operates CV340/C-131F’s N342GS, N343GS and N345GS and Miami Air Lease operates CV240/T-29B N150PA. Conquest and Miami Air Lease fly are based at Opa-locka airport and fly cargo to the Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations with an occasional U.S. destination. Many thanks to Ron for the photos.
Freddie Poitevent photographed the Convair at Meridian Regional Airport (MEI), Mississippi on March 9, 2019. Freddie recently reported on Facebook that the Convair regularly stops at the airport for fuel. Thanks much to Freddie for sharing his photos.
NTSB Issues Prelimary Report on Convair Crash - February 25, 2019
The NTSB released its preliminary accident report on the February 8, 2019 crash of Conquest Air Cargo CV340/C-131B N145GT.
Conquest Air Cargo Convair Ditches in Atlantic - February 10, 2019
Conquest Air Cargo C-131B (CV340) N145GT ditched in the Atlantic Ocean at 12:15pm on February 8, 2019 about 19 miles east of its destination Opa-locka Airport (OPF). The aircraft had completed a routine cargo flight to the Bahamas and was returning to OPF when the pilots declared an emergency. As luck would have it, a US Coast Guard helicopter was in the vicinity and the co-pilot, Rolland Silva, was quickly located in a small inflatable life raft and rescued. Additional rescue boats arrived shortly and the search continued for 21 hours for the missing pilot but no signs of Captain Robert Hopkins were found and the search was called off. The aircraft apparently broke up while attempting the water landing as the left wing was found floating in the ocean. The Convair was delivered to the USAF in 1955 and had been operated by Conquest since 2013.
Yankee Air Museum Acquires Former Contract Air Cargo Convair - February 10, 2019
The Yankee Air Museum acquired former Contract Air Cargo/IFL Group C-131B/CV340 N7813B in 2017. The aircraft had been stored at Oakland County International Airport in Pontiac, Michigan for a number of years and the museum hoped to get the airplane airworthy for the short ferry flight to museum headquarters in Ypsilanti, Michigan. There was a stack fire during engine testing and the project has now been put on hold.
IFL has a second radial engine Convair stored at the airport. Former Beaufort County Mosquito Control sprayer C-131F N8149P was acquired by IFL in 2011 after being retired by the county. It was ferried to Michigan and I believe has been parked there ever since. It is currently for sale but the market for used Convairs is weak these days, especially with the possibility of Conquest Air Cargo retiring their four aircraft.
CV580 Scrapped in El Paso - February 10, 2019
April 2018 saw the demise of another CV580, when N4805C was scrapped at El Paso International Airport. After a 36-year airline career with Delta, North Central, Republic and Northwest Airlines, the Convair passed through a number of small operators before being parked in El Paso in 1997. Stripped of her remaining useful spare parts, the fuselage was cut in two and transported to a local scrapyard for disposal.
Air Tribe CV580 Damaged in Ground Incident - February 10, 2019
Air Tribe CV580 XA-TRB experienced an inadvertent undercarriage retraction on January 18, 2018 during a maintenance engine runup by mechanics at Brownsville-South Padre Island International Airport. Photos of the incident show the aircraft sitting on its #2 engine cowling and partially retracted nose wheel with the prop shattered and a large tear on the right fuselage behind the cockpit. I’ve also heard that the airplane suffered structural damage so it will probably be written off and scrapped.
Opa-locka CV580 News - February 10, 2019
Former Air Tahoma Convair 580 N581P arrived at Opa-locka Airport from Columbus, Ohio on November 8, 2011 and was stored outside the Miami Air Lease hangar in all-white Air Tahoma colors until the latter part of 2017. The aircraft is registered to R&R Holdings, which reportedly are the same folks that ran Air Tahoma before it ceased operations in 2009. Stripped to a bare metal finish, I noted N581P undergoing an extended engine runup at Opa-locka on December 30, 2017. The CV580 was flown to Brownsville, Texas in early 2018. R&R Holdings is also involved with the Mexican CV580 cargo carrier Air Tribe, which operates out of Brownsville-South Padre Island International Airport. With the loss of CV580 XA-TRB in January 2018, it’s entirely possible that N581P is currently flying for Air Tribe. Please email me if you can confirm this.
CV640 Damaged in Wheels-up Landing - February 10, 2019
Aeronaves TSM Convair 640 XA-UNH was damaged in gear-up landing at Plan de Guadalupe International Airport in Saltillo, Mexico during the early hours of September 20, 2017. The flight crew was unable to lower the landing gear and circled the airport burning off fuel until 2:20am when they landed without benefit of landing gear. While the damage from this type of incident is normally repairable, Dart powered CV640s are at the end of their operational life with the airline and the aircraft will probably be written off.
Dutch Aviodrome CV340 Crashes in South Africa - February 10, 2019
On July 10, 2018 CV340/C-131D ZS-BRV crashed shortly after takeoff from Wonderboom Airport in Pretoria after experiencing the failure of its #1 (left) engine. The aircraft was on a scenic flight with 16 passengers and three crewmembers onboard. The crew included pilots Captains Ross Kelly and Doug Hayward, both experienced Australian pilots, and flight engineer Chris Barnard who died in the accident. While the two pilots and two passengers were severely injured, the flight engineer was the only fatality onboard the aircraft.
The Convair had last flown in February 2018 with A, B and C maintenance checks being completed on July 6, 2018. While the runup prior to takeoff appeared normal, the captain noted during the takeoff roll that manifold pressure on the #1 engine was low and shortly after rotation a passenger notified the crew that the engine was on fire. The pilots attempted to return to the airport and, while the aircraft initially climbed, it couldn’t maintain altitude and crashed into a commercial building 3½ miles from the airport. The preliminary accident report noted that there was confusion in the cockpit over which engine was on fire and it appears that no attempt was made to extinguish the fire or feather the propeller on the affected engine. This is puzzling in light of the experienced flight crew and hopefully the final report will determine exactly what happened on the ill-fated flight.
ZS-BRV was one of two Convairs that Rovos Air/Rail operated on combination rail and flight luxury safari trips from 2002 until 2011. Sistership ZS-ARV had previously been donated by Rovos to Australia’s Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) with pilots Kelly and Hayward flying the aircraft from South Africa to Australia in August 2016. Rovos donated ZS-BRV to the Nationaal Luchtvaart-Themapark Aviodrome in April 2018 and departure for the Netherlands was scheduled for July 12th. The Aviodrome is a Dutch aviation museum and theme park and planned on displaying the aircraft in period Martin’s Air Charter colors at its facility in Lelystad.
ZS-BVR was delivered to the USAF in 1954 as C-131D 54-2813. It was retired after 33 years of service in 1987 and flown to Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson, Arizona for storage. Sold at auction in July 1992 it was operated by Bolivian airline Lineas Aereas Canedo until being acquired by Rovos Air in December 2001. Retired by Rovos in February 2011 the aircraft was stored at Wonderboom in good condition. The Convair was advertised for sale for $300,000 and in early 2017 it appeared that the aircraft had been sold to a Swiss group. It was painted in red and white 1950s era Swissair colors but the deal fell though. A year later a US group calling itself the Northliner Foundation planned on buying the aircraft and debuting it at EAA AirVenture 2018. The organization went as far as offering seats on the flight from South Africa to Oshkosh for $22,000 but ultimately this deal also fell through.
HARS Convair Updates - February 10, 2019
Former Rovos Air/Rail Convair CV440/VC-131D ZS-ARV arrived at Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) headquarters at Illawarra Regional Airport in Australia on August 21, 2016 after an epic 12-day delivery flight from South Africa. Six months later, registered VH-TAA, the Convair set out for the annual Avalon Airshow only to be forced to return with engine problems. After careful inspection, it was determined that the #2 engine would have to be replaced and an overhauled engine was purchased in the U.S. By February 2018 the new engine had been installed and successful engine runs completed. With a new engine installed and other routine maintenance completed, the Convair was fully airworthy and attended the Parkes Aero Spectacular in mid-April 2018. While the aircraft is currently maintained in an airworthy condition with engines and other systems exercised on a regular basis, it hasn’t flown since the July 10, 2018 crash of ZS-BRV in South Africa. The pilots involved in the crash were Australian and could possibly have been the only two Convair certified pilots in Australia. Both were severely injured in the crash and have yet to return to flying thus effectively grounding the Convair.
HARS continues the slow but steady restoration of C-131F BuNo 141025 at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona. The January 2018 HARS Newsletter reported that mechanics had traveled to Arizona several times in 2017 where aircraft system tests and engine runs were performed in preparation for an anticipated 2018 ferry flight to Australia. The crash of ZS-BRV has obviously affected these plans due to the unavailability of certified pilots and the project has been put on hold.
----Created 10 February 2019------Updated 4 July 2022----