Rolling Boxcar Project – April 22, 2019
Wreck Hunting in Curacao – April 2, 2019
A group of Alaskan enthusiasts has formed an organization with the ambitious goal of transforming a retired Fairchild C-119G "Flying Boxcar" into a self-propelled rolling display. They have appropriately named it the “Rolling Boxcar Project” and have set up a website and produced a short YouTube video summarizing the project. Here’s a short project summary from the website.
” We have acquired this Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar aircraft. We will be removing the wings, tails, engines, and landing gear, and then we will mount the fuselage on an International school bus chassis with a diesel engine and auto transmission. The cockpit will remain intact. Once it is mobile, and has been renovated with such upgrades as a new paint scheme, polished aluminum, and nose art, we will drive it to venues air shows, air races, fairs, VFWs, AMVETS, American Legions, VA hospitals and Veterans Day Parades as a traveling coffee bar and art gallery. We will be donating to other nonprofits that promote veterans and their service to our country.”
The project aircraft is former RCAF C-119G 22131 c/n 10956, which was acquired by Hawkins and Powers in the mid-1970s after RCAF retirement. The aircraft was registered N5216R and converted for firefighting as Tanker #136 with the addition of a jetpack on the top of the fuselage. There has been quite a bit of confusion over the true identity of the aircraft since its jet pod is marked #137 and former RCAF C-119G 22113 N3935 Tanker #139 c/n 10824 is on display at the Museum of Flight and Aerial Firefighting in Greybull, WY marked as N5216R Tanker #136. Ruud Leeuw did an excellent job at sorting through this mystery and presented the results on his excellent website. After being retired as a fire bomber, the aircraft was donated to the Battle Mountain Air Museum at the former air tanker base at Lander County Airport, Battle Mountain, Nevada in the early 1990s.
“We would like to fashion our Rolling Boxcar after aircraft 51-2560 and tell the story of “Gamble Chalk One”, a plane that so many were lost in. We are researching the event and will contact the 435th Troop Carrier Wing of the USAF for more historical facts. Through this research we will develop static interpretive displays to help bring awareness to this terrible event. In addition, we will document the Rolling Boxcar's resurrection into a rolling attraction. The panels will be on display and the video can be used to promote veterans and the Military, particularly the United States Air Force, as well as for a documentary. The fuselage will don a new paint scheme, polished aluminum, appropriate banner, and even nose art. The usable parts of the wings, tails, engines, props, and landing gear will be sold, recycled, or repurposed to help fund the project. No scrap aluminum will be sent to recyclers but will be smelted by us.”
The group hopes to finish the project by fall of 2019 and foresees a maiden voyage happening in Alaska before touring the lower 48 states. The organization’s goals include:
Promote the military and a piece of USAF history by telling how C-119s served the military during the Cold War era
Tell this particular aircraft's story, both in its Air Force days and in civilian life after retirement from military service
Honor all veterans who have served our country
Promote local artists, Alaskan ingenuity, the entrepreneurial spirit, repurpose, recycle, and sell parts to help fund the project. All aluminum not used to build the Rolling Boxcar (i.e. wings, tails, and tail booms), will be smelted down into aluminum ingots and made into jewelry.
This is not going to be an inexpensive project and the group is currently seeking funding for major expenses such as:
Dismantling and rebuilding the C-119, which will happen in the lower 48 and require the rental of equipment and tools
Acquisition of an 84-passenger school bus with a diesel engine and automatic transmission
Conversion of a Willys Jeep into a road-worthy pilot car
Film documentation of project
You can become a member of this organization and/or donate to the project by going to the website’s membership page.
Lufthansa Decides to Place Ju-52 in Museum – April 18, 2019
Lufthansa JU-52 D-AQUI “Tante Ju” was recently disassembled and moved to a hangar in Hamburg to await a final decision on its fate. Apparently the powers to be at Lufthansa have made their decision with the aircraft to be placed in a yet-to-be-determined museum, where it will be put on static display. A decision on a museum has yet to be made but should be forthcoming. The Ju-52 had been providing scenic rides to the public since the mid-80's and the airline said it was grounded due to continuing financial losses associated with the program. See my April 5th report below for additional information.
Lufthansa Ju-52 Headed to Hamburg – April 5, 2019
In January 2019 Lufthansa announced that it would be ending financial support for Junkers Ju-52 D-AQUI “Tante Ju” which put an end to 30+ years of flight operations. The aircraft, which was built in 1936, had been operated by Deutsche Lufthansa Berlin Stiftung (DLBS) for promotional flights since the mid-1980s. The decision to withdraw support follows the cancellation of the Auburn, Maine based Starliner restoration project in March 2018. Even though Lufthansa earned $3B in profits last year, it claims the decision was based on an effort to reduce the financial losses associated with the operation of this historic trimotor. The airline also claims that the crash of Ju-Air HB-HOT had no bearing on the decision. The decision to cancel both programs illustrates CEO Carsten Spohr's focus on the airline's bottom line rather than preserving its legacy.
In April 2019 Lufthansa announced that the aircraft would be disassembled and moved from Munich to Hamburg by road. Hopefully it will be reassembled and put on display and not stashed away in some warehouse, or even worse, in some outdoor storage compound.
Swiss Aviation Authority Bans Ju-52 Flights – April 5, 2019
In March 2019 the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) announced that it was banning Ju-52 operator Ju-Air from conducting commercial flights. In an odd twist, FOCA will still allow the organization to offer flights to club members. This decision was based on the results of an investigation involving Ju-Air Ju-52 HB-HOT in August 2018 resulting in the death of 20 crew and passengers. FOCA announced that it will continue to allow vintage aircraft to operate carrying passengers but those passengers must be members of the organization conducting the fights for at least 30 days and be fully briefed on the risks associated with taking such a flight.
The accident investigation found structural corrosion on Ju-Air’s remaining two aircraft and, while the corrosion was not related to the accident, the two aircraft were grounded. At this time it is not known when, or if, Ju-Air will resume Ju-52 flights.
Kansas S2F – April 2, 2019
Gordon Cole recently sent me some photos of former Cal Fire S2F Tanker #95 N508JR. His friend Bill Garrison bought the aircraft in 2018 from the Cactus Air Force in Carson City, Nevada. The museum acquired the aircraft at auction some years ago at McClellan Airport, when Cal Fire retired its piston engine S2Fs in favor of turbine versions. (Note: Cal Fire currently operates a turbine-powered S2F Tanker #95.) Bill enlisted the help of Gordon and Tim Coons to get the airplane ready for the ferry flight from Carson City to Kansas, which went off without a problem. Gordon reports that the aircraft is in very good condition with all systems working, including the dump system. The props ADs have been completed and new brakes have been installed. Maintenance and operations plans have been approved by the FAA and Bill plans to use the aircraft on a firefighting contract for the State of Kansas. Bill and his wife Bobbie own Ag Air Service Inc., which is an aerial application company based in Nickerson, Kansas.
Eric Teoh recently did some wreck hunting on the Lesser Antilles island of Curacao in the Caribbean and discovered the remains of a YS-11A. P4-YSA once flew for Air Aruba, but when the airline declared bankruptcy in 2000 the aircraft was abandoned on Curacao. Using information he found on the Atlas Obscura website, Eric located the aircraft. Eric reports…“I found this on the Atlas Obscura website but also did some poking around with Google Street View before driving over there. The location they give is a little north of the actual location (which is 12.091738, -68.900863). As you can see in the first image, it’s pretty obvious when you drive by and is easily visible on Google Street View. It’s on private property, but seems completely abandoned. I parked by the tail and entered through the attached (and incomplete) building.”
The aircraft was delivered to All Nippon Airways in December 1969 as JA8780 and flew with the airline until being sold in the U.S. to Trans Central Airlines as N904TC in April 1983. It was sold to Simmons Airlines in July 1984 and finally to Air Aruba in September 1988. After Air Aruba declared bankruptcy in 2000, the wings, empennage and engines were removed and it was acquired by the Breezes Resort. The aircraft was moved to its current location, where the plan was to make it a restaurant. Obviously that never happened and over the years the aircraft deteriorated into its current derelict condition. I’ve also included Thomas Posch’s February 2006 photo of the aircraft in Air Curacao titles at presumably the same location. For more information, check out the Atlas Obscura website. Many thanks to Eric for providing the report and photos.
End of the Road for St. Maarten YS-11 – April 2, 2019
As reported February 10, 2019 on this website, YS-11A PJ-WIJ miraculously survived Hurricane Irma but it now appears that its days as a restaurant are over. Phil Brooks visited St. Maarten in March 2019 and forwarded the following report. ”Yesterday, we took a catamaran cruise around the island that originated in Philipsburg. Of course, my head was on a swivel during the drive from our hotel in the Maho Beach area looking for the famous YS-11. Little did I know, it would be found right next to the tour operator’s office! I was told by members of the crew that the plan is to dump it offshore from the Sunset Bar and Grill, on Maho Beach, to make it an artificial reef, for divers (and fish) to enjoy. I’d never seen it “open” as a business, and I guess now, I never will! I do recall seeing it at the airport in the early 90s, beautifully painted up in Winair colors.”
As noted by Phil, the YS-11A was operated by Winair but did not work out well with the airline. PJ-WIK was the 25th YS-11 produced and was delivered to All Nippon Airways in July 1966. It arrived in St. Maarten on November 24, 1990 and entered service with Winair a week later on December 1, 1990. Winair experience with the aircraft was nothing short of a disaster with the aircraft being grounded, due to mechanical problems, for most of the first half of 1991. It became a static fixture at St Maarten’s Princess Juliana Airport (SXM) until it was stripped of useful spares and moved by barge from the airport to Phillipsburg some time during the later part of 1999. First noted as a restaurant in February 2000, the fuselage fronts the restaurant building and serves as an entry way to it. Tables are set inside the aircraft but these are not normally used due to the lack of air conditioning. The adjoining building was totally destroyed by the hurricane.
Many thanks to Phil for his report and photos.
Reassembly Continues on AMC Museum C-119B – March 3, 2019
The reassembly of C-119B 48-0352 continues at the Air Mobility Command (AMC) Museum at Dover AFB in Delaware. Mike Leister visited the museum on March 1, 2019 and forwarded photographs of the aircraft, which is being reassembled by a crew from Worldwide Aircraft Recovery. This historically significant aircraft was stored at Travis AFB for many years and was just days away from being sold as scrap metal when it was rescued by the AMC Museum. The museum is looking to acquire a treadway bridge section to include in the display of the aircraft once the restoration is complete. If you know where one can be found, please contact museum director John Taylor at (302) 677-5942 or email@example.com.
For more information about the restoration effort and history of the aircraft, check out my article on this website.
St. Maarten YS-11 Survived Hurricane Irma – February 10, 2019
Former Winair YS-11A PJ-WIK has been a fixture for many years on a small plot of land on the outskirts of Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. Painted in Heineken colors, its fuselage served as the centerpiece of a small restaurant and, while the restaurant building attached to it was totally destroyed by Hurricane Irma’s 200 mph winds, the fuselage amazingly managed to escape serious damage. When I photographed the airplane in January 2018, the restaurant site appeared abandoned. Much of St. Maarten is being rebuilt and hopefully the restaurant will be rebuilt and the island’s famous “Heineken YS-11” will live on.
BAHF C-97G “Angel of Deliverance” Update – February 10, 2019
In 2012 Hurricane Sandy caused considerable damage to the hangar at Floyd Bennett Field that had been home to the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation’s (BAHF) two aircraft, C-54E “Spirit of Freedom” and the C-97G “Angel of Deliverance.” Faced with the need to vacate Floyd Bennett Field, the airworthy C-54E departed post haste but the C-97G was undergoing restoration and it would be five years before the aircraft was airworthy and able to depart. On November 8, 2017 C-97G N117GA made the short flight to BAHF’s home base at Ocean County Airport in Toms River, New Jersey. After a brief stay, it departed later that same day for Reading Regional Airport in Pennsylvania, where it would remain for the next 12 months.
Phase I of BAHF’s C-97 project involved getting the aircraft out of Floyd Bennett Field. With this now accomplished it was time to move onto Phase II, which had the stated goal of enhancing the organization’s operational experience in the aircraft. Phase II objectives included selecting and training flight crewmembers; updating procedures based on lessons-learned from Phase I; installing an updated crew intercom system; cleaning the airplane for public display; correcting maintenance discrepancies found during Phase I; and initiating local training flights to build operational experience.
Reading Regional Airport is home to the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum (MAAM) and, while the move there was a temporary solution, it allowed Tim Chopp and his volunteer force to begin Phase II by performing necessary maintenance on the aircraft. During its stay in Reading, a new intercom system and rear ballast tanks had been installed. The ballast tanks eliminated the need to secure weighted barrels in the rear of the aircraft to maintain proper weight and balance. In addition, maintenance issues identified during the November 2017 flight to Reading had been addressed and corrected. It also allowed BAHF to debut the aircraft at the museum’s annual World War II Weekend event in June 2018.
On November 20, 2018, “Angel of Deliverance” was flown from Reading to Hagerstown Regional Airport in Maryland, which is home to the Hagerstown Aviation Museum (HAM). Two successful local training flights were conducted on November 30, 2018 with BAHF Vice President Kevin Kearny proclaiming afterwards that “things are beginning to come together.” After completing the flights, the C-97G was parked alongside HAMs C-82 and C-119 for the winter. The plan is to have the aircraft open to the public during the museum’s first Open Airplane Afternoon on May 5, 2019. The Hagerstown Aviation Museum posted a very nice YouTube video of the November 30th training flight.
A bit of history on the aircraft….It was delivered to SAC on April 27, 1954 as KC-97G 52-2718 and served at a number of SAC bases before being transferred to the Wisconsin Air National Guard in August 1964. A year later it was converted to a KC-97L with the installation of two underwing J-47 engines. Retired by the military in 1976 she was flown to Davis Monthan AFB for storage. Acquired at auction in 1986, the aircraft was converted to a C-97G by removing the aerial refueling equipment and J-47 engines along with the installation of rear clamshell cargo doors. Grace Air purchased the aircraft in 1988 and used it on humanitarian missions to South America and to haul fish in Alaska during the summer. After being stored for a time at Moses Lake, Washington, BAHF purchased the aircraft in April 1996 and ferried it to Greybull, Wyoming for inspection and maintenance. Painted in the colors of YC-97A 45-59595 and named “Angel of Deliverance” the big Boeing set out for Floyd Bennett Field in July 2001 but only got as far as Aberdeen, South Dakota, where the #3 engine failed. With a replacement engine installed, the aircraft was flown to Millville, New Jersey in November 2001 but it would be six months before the final leg could be made to Floyd Bennett Field due to airspace restrictions as the result of the 9/11 attacks. The flight to Floyd Bennett Field was made on May 10, 2002 and the aircraft would call the field home for the next 15 years.
BAHF is a tax-exempt charitable non-profit 501c3 corporation that exists on public support. It costs lots of money to maintain and operate the foundation's Douglas C-54E and Boeing C-97G and they need your financial support to survive. For additional information about BAHF and how to contribute to this worthy cause, check out the organization’s website.
Boneyard KC-97G Becomes Centerpiece at Cleveland‘s I-X Center – February 10, 2019
A piece of Ohio aviation history made its debut at Cleveland’s International Exposition (I-X) Center on March 16, 2018 when it was featured at the Summit Racing Equipment I-X Piston Powered Auto-Rama. The building housing the I-X Center was constructed during WWII to manufacture parts for the B-29 bomber and the owners wanted a B-29 for display at the center. Unsuccessful in their search for a B-29, they found the next best thing…a nearly intact KC-97G in a Tucson boneyard. The Cold War era C-97 was a direct descendant of the B-29 with a total of 888 being produced by Boeing Aircraft. Most were KC-97 refueling tankers that were gradually replaced by jet powered KC-135s starting in 1956. Relegated to either Davis Monthan AFB for storage or to Reserve and Air National Guard units, they served until 1978 when the last aircraft was retired. The I-X Center’s aircraft is KC-97G 52-2604, which was the last C-97 stored in any of the scrapyards surrounding Davis Monthan AFB.
A small team of mechanics led by William “Tex” Powell spent four months at the Aircraft Restoration and Marketing (ARM) scrapyard in Tucson disassembling the aircraft. By June 2017, the aircraft had been disassembled and was loaded onto six flatbed trucks for the long roadtrip to Cleveland. Reassembly took 3 ½ weeks and no major problems were encountered. What really helped was that the crew was now familiar with the airplane and it was essentially whole and in very good condition. The refueling tanks, which were located in the main cabin, were removed but most of the other original equipment was retained.
Now that the aircraft had been reassembled, it was time to remove 40+ years of oxidation and desert grime. Industrial artist Mike Ensminger of Iron Image Design spent several months cleaning and polishing the aircraft’s exterior and the results are truly stunning. Once all the dirt and oxidation had been removed, original Ohio Air National Guard markings emerged on the fuselage.
Mike will also oversee conversion of the aircraft into a 50-seat restaurant, which is expected to open on the south side of the center in 2020. The project is expected to cost about $1.1M when completed and will double the number of KC-97 restaurants in the United States. KC-97L 52-0283 has been the centerpiece of the 275-seat Airplane Restaurant in Colorado Springs since 2002. While the main restaurant is in an attached building, patrons of the restaurant have the option of dining in the airplane.
----Created 10 February 2019------Updated 22 April 2019----