A family holiday to the Deep South of the USA, brought me an opportunity to search out propliners in these parts.
Starting out from Atlanta, we steered south and found an apt start with Academy Airlines at Tara Field. DC-3 N143D was parked in a corner, between small aircraft and an abandoned automobile. The owner, Mr McSwiggan, was not around and I failed to get in contact with him: an answering service replied to the phonecalls.
A bit further south, at Griffin-Spalding Airport, another Academy Airlines DC-3 is resident Unfortunately, N133D is stored without engines and I was warned not to get too close to the aircraft as hornets had taken possession of the aircraft.
Roger Botting wrote me in Feb.2012 the following update:
I was also discouraged from searching for other DC-3s here, but I pressed on and ended up in the office (in the shape of a nice logcabin) of Lance Toland. He owns a company in aircraft insurance and keeps DC-3A N173RD in his hangar, using it for flights with friends to air shows and other occasions. Although Mr. Toland was not around, his secretary displayed the proverbial hospitality of the Deep South and allowed us a look in the VIP-interior of this fine DC-3. |
In my opinion the exterior could do with a paintjob, but Mr Toland told me later: "I like it that way !" http://www.lancetoland.com
DC-3C N173RD (cn13868/25313) of Lance Toland
Griffin-Spalding Airport,GA 23jul01
This veteran began life as C-47A 43-48052 with a delivery to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) on July 10th, 1944. On paper it was immediately transferred to the RAF as KG769, to arrive that same year with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) under the same serial. From the War Surplus stocks it ended up after the war with Trans Canada Airlines as CF-TEG. In 1957 it was registered to the Department of Transport as CF-GXW, reregistered to C-FGXW in 1978. Kelowna Flightcraft of Kelowna,B.C bought it in July 1985.
Roger wrote me the following on the history of this DC-3:
Between 1957 and about 1976 CF-GXW and CF-DTH were flight calibration aircraft (calibrating ILS VOR and TACAN system) with Transport Canada. GXW was based
in Montreal. The extra long window above the wing was part of the flight calibration modifications done by the FAA. The test bench was along the starboard side just behind the captain's seat and the windows on both sides were enlarged to give the operator a better view outside.
This DC-3 went on a world tour ! CF-GXW was named "Odyssey 86", the project was organized by a society of that same name. Expo '86 was the World's Fair held in Vancouver,BC and for the 50th anniversary of the DC-3 a large gathering of DC-3s was organized here. |
Follow this link to see a B/W shot from that period of C-FGXW Odyssey 86 "Spirit of Vancouver" at Brisbane.
Two more, on Airliners.net:
1. C-FGXW by Andy Martin
2. and another one, London July 28, 1986
C-FGXW undertook a round-the-world expedition to celebrate this 50th anniversary of the DC-3. Starting out in Vancouver on 10th June, it visited Oakland, Honolulu, Pago Pago, Suva, Noumea, Brisbane, Cairns, Port Moresby, Darwin, Davao, Manila, Brunei, Singapore, Bangkok, Dhaka, Delhi, Karachi, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Cairo, Athens, Rome, Prague, Warsaw, Oslo, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, London, Reykjavik, Narssarssuaq, St. Johns, Halifax, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Oshkosh, Winnipeg, Regina, Edmonton and Kelowna before arriving back in Vancouver on 11th August. (All this from Andy).
It was bought by Classic Airlines Corporation Sept. 20th 1990 and registered N173RD, with a registered change in owner a month later to International Ship Repair and Marine Services (Land O'Lakes, Florida). I have no clue why this was done, a trick for the taxman ?
It was registered to Lance Toland in 1994, by which time it was still in a faded "Odyssey 86" colourscheme and he changed the interior to a VIP-configuration.
The "missus" is rewarded for many hours of patience en route, with a seat up front in N173RD and a look at the VIP-interior.
The other DC-3 here at Griffin-Spalding Airport, owned by Ron Alexander, was away at the Oshkosh Air Show at the time of our visit.|
At Tara Field (presently being profiled as Clayton County Airport), we had learned that the Carvair of Custom Air Service had moved to Thomaston,GA while Tara Field had been closed for a week during recent runway resurfacing. At Thomaston we found ATL.98 N89FA and "Fat Annie" looked in an excellent condition.
Later N89FA moved back to Tara Field and operated commercially again; though the company was sound, they too experience the economic downturn in aviation. By that time the Carvair was bought by an Ohio attorney and later that year N89FA moved to Texas.|
ATL.98 Carvair N89FA (cn9), Custom Air Service
This wonderful airplane started life as a Douglas C-54B-20-DO (cn27249, line nbr 195) for the USAAF on 11jan45, with registration 44-9023. After conversion by Douglas to DC-4, Western Airlines became the first civilian operator and registered it as N88816 in 1946. In 1956 it took on a Mexican identity: XA-MAA for Guest Aerovias Mexico. It went further south in September 1957 when it started operating for Aerovias Panama SA on a lease as HP-256. It was reregistered later to HP268. It was returned to Guest in 1960 and reregistered XA-MAA before it went to Bolivia on a lease with Lloyd Areo Boliviano (LAB) as CP-682. It was registered to Babb & Co on October 29th, 1962 and received N9326R as a tailnumber.
During 1962 it was reconfigured by Aviation Traders Limited to ATL.98 Carvair. It was at that time commercially interesting to buy a 20-year old airliner and reconfigure it in a way that it could ferry cars across the Channel. Channel Air Bridge did just that with Bristol Freighters and needed a replacement. "Car-via-Air" became Carvair and 21 DC-4/C-54s were reconfigured this way. The cars needed to enter the aircraft from the front and thus the cockpit was placed on top of the fuselage. Exactly the idea we see worked out later in the Boeing 747 (which started on the drawingboard as a freighter) !
Conversion no.9 carried G-ASHZ while in service with British United Air Ferries and it was there that she was named "Fat Annie". It went back to the States in June 1979 when it was bought by Falcon Airways. The next year she was repossessed by the Mercantile National Bank of Dallas. Nasco Leasing Company bought it that same year and it switched owners again in 1982 when James R. Blumenthal bought it.
Mr Robert D. McSwiggan of Custom Air Service, bought N89FA in 1986 from Mr Blumenthal of Tucson and stored it at Griffin. When sistership N83FA crashed in 1997, N89FA was revived to active duty again with a first flight in April 1998 to Tara Field.
It is truly a unique plane and with the grounding of Hawkair's C-GAAH in British Columbia, Canada and the vague circumstances of N5459M in South Africa, it is the only commercially operated Carvair around. C-GAAH was sold to Brooks Fuel in Alaska and is to be revived again to commercial services in 2004; have a look at N898AT
There was time to visit the Military Aviation Museum at Warner Robins,GA near Macon; truly an excellent museum, with a complete inventory of the US Air Forces.|
Warner Robins Air Force Museum,GA 23jul01
This one never wore civilian clothes... Starting out as C-47B-15-DK 43-49442 with a delivery to the USAAF in Nov. 1944, it was transferred to the Navy one month later and redesignated a R4D-6. It operated with VR-3 squadron at Quonset Point, amongst other places and assignments. It was updated to a C-47J in 1962. At the end of its long servicelife, it was rewarded with a preservation at the US Naval Museum in Pensacola,FL.
Curtiss C-46D 42-101198 (cn30653).|
Warner Robins Air Force Museum, GA 23jul01
Proudly standing guard in front of the Warner Robins Air Force Museum, this C-46D Commando quite possibly was involved with the COM-CAR squadrons in the China-India-Burma area. The museum has a large part of it focused on the Combat Cargo squadrons, which took care of the logistics part in the final years (1944/45) of World War 2 in these parts.
This aircraft was left at Karachi in November 1944 and sold to the Government of India in 1946. It was bought and delivered on Oct. 18th 1954 to Borges Tillotson Aircraft of Sacramento,CA. They had it registered as N68851. But it soon found its way to South America: Lineas Aereas del Caribe (Colombia) bought it in July 1956 and reregistered it as HK-829. It was involved in an accident at Santiage,Chile on March 11th 1959. On an unrecorded date it went to Lineas Aereas Sud America as CC-CDC. Miami,FL was a crossroads for South American and Caribbean trade routes in those days, esspecially for propliners. So it is no surprise that this Curtiss Commando was stored at Miami in 1973. No doubt it found a spot in what locals called the Corrosion Corner. Victor Salas bought it in 1975 and moved it a few miles north: to Opa Locka. It was seen there in 1976 (still wearing the LASA colour scheme and titles). It was still based at Opa Locka in 1978. It belonged to Haiti Air Freight International, ostensibly Haitian but actually based in Florida, which operated a varied fleet of props and jets: C-46D HH-DGA (to which by now it had been reregistered), Convair 440 Metropolitans, Douglas Sixes and a Convair 880 (HH-SMA). By 1981 this Commando was still in faded LASA c/s at Opa Locka,FL (restoration to airworthiness and actual application of new registration may have been postponed till 1981/1982). It was seen at Santo Domingo Oct. 1985 as HH-DGA, operational. In 1999 the FAA banned all Haitian-registered aircraft from US airspace and that was the end of HAFI at Opa Locka.
It was seen at Miami August 21st, 1991 in USAAF colors and delivered to Warner Robbins August 27th, 1991. These days it has a prominent place in front of the entrance of the museum. If you cannot visit the museum in person (93 aircraft and missiles on display !), I can recommend a visit by following this external link to the Museum of Aviation .
A book I read about the COM-CAR squadrons, which I can recommend: "Through Hell's Gate to Shanghai" (the story of the 10th Combat Cargo Squadron), by John G.Martin (D.V.M.); published by The Lawhead Press, 1983.
We felt compelled to move west and search for propliners in Mississippi. The city of Petal was not easy to find, as it is situated against Hattiesburg and poorly signposted. It has a distinct feeling of: "who would want to go to Petal ?". Well, I was looking for C-53D N4003, supposedly parked somewhere in the city. In the end I found it by asking for the "Municipal Buildings" at the police station, as no one else seemed to understand what I was searching for.
N4003 sits a bit forlorn in a small, soggy grassfield with a former US Navy jet (TF-9J Cougar) to keep it company; no caretaker in sight and the engines and the rudder have been removed from this Gooney Bird.|
Joey from Petal wrote me in May 2005 N4003 is still present: "The dc-3 is still here, pretty much in the same condition, but weather takes a toll over the years. I still live in the area, but I'm only home about 4 days a month. I never see anyone there but someone obviously comes and cuts the grass and cleans up around the place."
It was delivered as 42-68745 on April 10th, 1943 to the USAAF. It was registered NC49543 and was named "Mainliner New Jersey" while operating with United Airlines from 1945. It was actually bought by United in 1949 and renamed "Mainliner Youngstown". In 1955 it went to IBM Corporation and was reregistered as N705M. At some time it went to Freeport Sulfur Co. and again changed the identity, this time to N400S. In 1965 it was bought by Pan Air Corporation in New Orleans,LA and was issued its present tailnumber N4003 two years later. It was cancelled from the U.S. Register in 1976. |
C-53D N4003 (cn11672)
Petal,MS July 26th 2001
It was a mystery to me how the plane got there, with no airport in sight. Jack Landree and Roy Blewitt told me the tale:
Jack told me the DC-3 (C-53) is parked beneath pine trees, which are known for holding moisture and the airframe is now plagued by severe corrosion.
"The aircraft is at the site of the M.W. Hamilton Machine Museum, which at one stage had a number of aircraft in restoration, including (apparently) two DC-3s, a Stearman Kaydet, Grumman Cougar, B-25, HUP-1 Retriever and Vultee Valiant. During a visit I made there a couple of years ago, the whole facility had an air of abandonment about it. Needless to say, there was no-one else about - despite this being mid-afternoon on a weekday. The only evidence of any other aircraft present was the Grumman Cougar, which was inside a shed close to N4003. All round, there were various examples of agricultural machinery quietly rusting away. Bob Ogden's South Eastern States museum book gives a telephone number for the museum (601-583 9117). The DC-3 is opposite City Hall and the Central Library; had I thought of it at the time, I could have popped in and asked them what became of the M.W. Hamilton Machine Museum."
Jack & Roy, thanks very much for the info !
Mr Hamilton Jr wrote me in Mar.2006: "I own the DC-3 N4003 located at Petal,MS and I live on the property where it is. My DC-3 has the passenger door on the righthand side. My dad had collected several planes and machinery with the intention of having a museum. At this time, I am planning to keep the DC-3 as long as I am living, it will not be scrapped."
|We had our first taste of swampland at Hattiesburg' Bobby L. Chain Municipal Airport in search for the 2 stored DC-3s here. The airport is not signposted, but if you take the I-59 South out of town and exit on the sign "Rehab Center", you'll arrive at HBG. Permission was asked with Southeast Aviation and kindly given, with instructions on how to walk over to the 2 former Southern Flyer DC-3s. They are parked in a remote spot of the airport and the ground proved to be very soggy.|
C-47A N37906 (cn12712) |
Hattiesburg-Bobby L.Chain Mun'l Airport (HBG),MS 26jul01
C-47A N37906 looked very poorly, with much damage to both interior as well as exterior.
Sonny Hamilton wrote me in Mar.2006:
Ron Hargrove acquired it and wrote me in Feb.2011 that he took it back to Alabama; he did the same with N134D, see below.
C-53D N134D (with its cabindoor on the "wrong" side of the cabin !) looked in a somewhat better condition, but an inspection of the cockpit was cut short by an attack of large hornets !|
Click on the photo for a larger image-
C-53D N134D (cn11731)
Hattiesburg-Bobby L.Chain Mun'l Airport (HBG),MS 26jul01
Delivered as a troop-transport C-53D to the USAAF on June 08th 143 with serial 42-68804. American Airlines started using it in 1945 as a DC-3A with registration NC18666. After it was registered to Airline Transport Carriers, Ozark Airlines started using it in 1953. It was reregistered to N134D. Fairchild Hiller Corporation became the owner in 1967. Stan Burgstein was registered as the owner by July 1968, but the next year it went to Air Transport Leasing Corp. (Tulsa,OK). In June 1972 IMS Inc. from Dallas,TX became the new owners. N134D was registered to Southern Flyer Inc., Hattiesburg,MS on December 22nd, 1975. It was cancelled from the US Register in Oct.'81. These days N134D plays host to a large nest of hornets and they don't take kindly to visitors..!
Ron Hargrove acquired N37906 & N134D and wrote me in Feb.2011 that he took them back to Alabama. See PHOTOS BY FRIENDS & GUESTS, PAGE 28
Sofar we had only seen products of the Douglas company, but we found Martin 4-0-4s stored near the coast, at Stennis Int'l Airport. This airport seems to be of a more regional nature, and even then you have to ask around for the Hancock Highschool, as otherwise people will direct you to New Orleans or Gulfport-Biloxi for an "international airport". As the song (American Pie) goes: "moss grows fat on a Roman stone": but seems to grow well on these Martin 4-0-4s (N40407, N40415, N40424, N969M) too ! Access to them was easy (again, no one around), and they still seemed to be rather complete.|
Martin 404 N40415 (cn14119), ex/PBA stored.
Stennis Airport, MS 26jul01
This Martinliner was delivered to Trans World Airlines (TWA) on May 26th, 1952 as N40415. Skyliner Albany, it was called. N40415 was involved in a landing incident at Wheeling,WV on May 08th 1953, when the left landinggear collapsed; fortunately no one was hurt. It was stored at Kansas City, but no date is known to me. Piedmont Airlines bought it in 1961 and they named it Yadkin Valley Pacemaker. And again it was involved in a landing incident, when it made a hard landing at Rocky Mount,NC on August 06th, 1962. But no injuries (again !). Truly a sturdy aeroplane...
N40415 moved in 1988, but not to another customer: instead it was stored at Gulfport-Biloxi,MS. On Sept. 26th 1988 it was bought by Erickson & Remmert and N40415 moved to its present home at Bay St. Louis-Stennis Int'l Airport,MS during 1989. Maybe they bought it as an investment, as a sale was reported to Aero Sierra de Durango; but the sale was not completed. Maybe it did fly in those days of storage, as US Customs Service seized the aircraft on March 15th 1990. I welcome the sordid details of that period !
On Nov. 01st 1995 the aircraft was again almost sold, to a Mr Mario Duenas, but again the sale was not completed.
And so N40415 sat waiting at Stennis Int'l at its 6th location of storage; what future would there be left ? The registration had not been cancelled with the FAA (though details of ownership are lacking), so maybe...?.
It was not to be ! All four Martin 4-0-4s at Stennis were scrapped during Feb.2002. The airport wanted to expand, the Martins were in their way and after finally all legal papers were completed, the aircraft were sold to Sam Stewart of California. Airliners magazine (may/june 2002) featured an article by Vincent Caire. Sam Stewart (of Martin N404CG fame) scrapped them, took bits home to California and sold the fuselage of N40415 to Kermit Weeks in Florida and the cockpits of N969M & N40407 will be displayed in museums in California (one of which Yanks Museum, Chino,CA). N40424 was beyond any rescue and completely scrapped. Sad, sad, sad.
Witness the sad condition anno 2006.
Martin 404 N40413, also ex PBA, continues to survive (2010) at Gulfport-Biloxi airport, MS - see pictorial update on www.skippyscage.com/aviation/ms/gulfport, though the airport authorities would like to get rid of it.
Martin 404 N969M (cn14231), ex/PBA stored.
Stennis Airport, MS 26jul01
This Martinliner started its career with Eastern Airlines as N483A on its delivery October 29th 1952. Who would have thought that it would be around longer than this reputable airline ? On May 02nd 1963 it was bought and reregistered as N22T by Richardson & Bass Oil Company. In 1965 it was time to move on and W.A. Montcrief bought it. N3651B was assigned to it as a tailnumber. This did not last long: a year later it was bought by Southern Airlines and they had it registered with the FAA as N587S. In 1971 it had reached the end of its usefulness with Southern A/l and they stored it at Atlanta. Citycorp Leasing Inc. thought they still could make money with it and they bought N587S in May 1974.
On a more general note: the MartinLiners designated such as 202 and 404 were often seen described as 2-0-2 and 4-0-4; however this was strictly a marketing thing as the official Type Certificate simply uses '202' and '404'.
|We found no propliners at New Orleans Int'l Airport, but slightly deeper in the Louisiana swamplands, at Houma Airport, we found Airborne Support. Although, it is understood that they lease their aircraft from Environmental Aviation Services Inc (EASI), I was told by the owner, Mr Howard Barker, that we are dealing with a name change here.|
C-47B N4994N was donated by Mr Barker to the "Flying Dove"-Foundation years ago and sits without engines waiting for the funding to be completed by this Society in order to get it airworthy again..|
C-47B N4994N (cn14326/25771)
Houma-Terrebonne Airport,LA 29jul01
This one led a varied life... It started its military career with the USAAF on Aug. 28th 1944, but was transferred that same month to the US Navy as a R4D-5 with serial 17268. It served in various units across the USA. It was returned to the Air Force upon which it was designated a C-47J in 1947. Then NASA made use of it, registration N10NA (NASA 10) and it became based at Huntsville,AL. This was in 1969. On April 30th 1971 the tailnumber was changed to N423NA. Two years later it started its civilian career, with Auburn University as N1AU. While on an exchange, for Aztec, it was reregistered as N6326Y that same year. Though now wearing civilian clothes, it still did not operate commercially. In 1977 it went to Florida, for the Lee County Health Dept at Ft. Myers. No doubt it was used as a sprayer, fighting the mosquitos. It was reregistered in 1977 to N840M. And again reregistered N4994N a year later. The next year, in 1979, it saw use by Ag-Air Inc., Belle Glade,FL. From there it went to EASI: Environmental Aviation Services Inc. (though I do not know which year that was). Its active life came to an end in April 1988, when it was stored at Belle Glade. But apparently it was fit to fly when the company moved to its new home, from Florida to Louisiana. A few years ago it was donated to the Flying Dove Foundation by the owner of EASI, now known as Airborne Support Inc.
The sprayers of Airborne Support (C-47s N64766, N64767 & C-54D N67024) looked in excellent condition and are operated on standby basis for oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico.
N64766 suffered an incident on 13Nov06 at Houma when its righthand maingear collapsed after landing.
C-47B N64766 (cn15773/27218)
You'll find photos of Airborne Support aircraft in Feb.2010 on my Photos by Friends & Guests (24)
C-54D N67024 (cn10550/221), Airborne Support Inc.
Houma-Terrebonne Airport,LA 29jul01
Details Airborne Support can be learned from their website; www.airbornesupport.com
Henk Geerlings sent me some photos of N67024 in a previous life...
We moved north to Lafayette, but DC-3 N33VW had been sold and found a new home with the Cavanaugh Collection in Addison,TX.|
We followed Highway 61, of Delta Blues fame, up north and paid a visit to McNeely Charter Service at West Memphis (across the Mississippi, a few miles into Arkansas); here we found a classic "good news, bad news"-situation: restoration from the storm damage, a few years ago, to C-47A N24320 had almost been completed, but both Gooney Birds were for sale.
C-47A N24320 (cn20197), McNeely Charter Service.The history on this one is as follows: delivered to the USAAF on May 06th 1944 with registration 43-15731, but its military career was a short one. In 1946 it was registered NC24320 in the name of Johnson Flying Service (Missoula,MT). In 1954 it was involved in an incident, when it ditched in the Monongahela River,PA on December 22nd with 10 fatalities as a sad result. But N24320 survived, as it was repaired by Johnson Flying Service during 1955. All in all N24320 stayed here for some 30 years ! That is a feat you don't see much with these old warriors ! In 1977 it is time to move on ands Evergreen International become the noew owner at that time. Not for long though, as on February 12th 1979 it was registered to Basler Flight Service Inc. in Oshkosh,WI . On July 24th 1985 it became registered to McNeely Charter Service and found its home at West Memphis Airport, Arkansas. A few years ago, I was told at McNeely's, N24320 suffered from a severe storm, when it was picked up and smashed down on the ramp again. The damage took it out of production and the photo shows it in the last stages of inspection and repairs to bring it to an airworthy status again. Unfortunately, McNeely Charter Service is winding down its DC-3 operations, finding a better demand in aircraft with less capacity, and at the time of my visit N24320 was to be sold to a Flying Museum somewhere in the US.
West Memphis,AR 02aug01
On Oct.17th 2001 N24320 arrived at Missoula,MT where it will join the Museum of Mountain Flying. It is the intention that a hangar will be built for it. As stated above, this aircraft and Missoula,Montana share a considerable history. Hopefully it will remain in an airworthy condition.
Read the artricle written by Mick Holien of the Missoulian about the arrival of N24320 at Missoula.
The museum seems to be a small scale affair thusfar, located at east end of Missoula airport and only open during weekends from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m.(2002).
The adress is:
4505 US Highway 10 West
Missoula, MT 59808-5634
Telephone: (406) 721-3644
N24320 was also involved in a ground accident in 1994 with a Cessna 208 (N927FE ).
While the sale of N24320 appeared to be imminent, for the time being C-47A N5831B was still operated on freighter charters. Mr Reggie Hopwood, the owner of McNeely Charter Service, told me he was winding down the DC-3 operation, as the capacity was too large to fill on most flights.|
C-47A N5831B (cn19345), McNeely Charter Service
West Memphis,AR 02aug01
The age does not show, but this airframe was delivered over 60 years ago: on December 28th 1943. The USAAF had registration 42-100882 applied to it and
02Sep1944 it was registered to the Royal Air Force as TS422. It has quite a War story!
James Richard Covington, Jr (c) sent me this photo of N5831B, stripped of its paint, taken on 17Oct03 at Avra Valley; thanks Rick !
|John Stewart wrote me in Jan.2007:
"Thanks for the wonderful photos/news of this plane. I was a mechanic at McNeelys and I have worked on that ol' gal a lot.
I have always remembered when my son and I got the chance to ride together.
I still keep a photo of her on my desk where I work now. I also worked alot on N24320 which went to a museum. Guess I will have to "cross the creek" to see the beaver ( this was our nick name or her)...
|I saw Convair CV580(F/SCD) N584E (cn25) parked at Memphis International Airport,TN without titles; next to it was parked CV600(F-SCD) N94279 (cn101) with Rhoades titles. Unfortunately I could not convince people in the warehouse to allow me on the ramp, in order to take some photographs. In the light of what was to happen later on September 11th, this was good security.|
The State of Tennessee has a self-reputed fame for food, but the 101st Airborne Restaurant near the airport of Nashville (on Murfreesboro Rd.) takes no chances and has situated itself in a World War II scenery, complete with a TC-47B (N2312G) in invasion colourscheme; it is in satisfactory condition, complete with engines and props.
In Oct.2006 I received an update by Charles Hood:
And in Jan.2008 I received the excellent news that 'Tooie' is going to find a new home and will be brought to Indiana. Keep an eye out for news on www.indianaairsearchandrescue.org
Phil Brooks wrote me in May 2013: "DC-3 'Tooie' seen on a trailer at Franklin Flying Field, Indiana (3FK) on Saturday May 25th; what's the plan?" See for photo my page Photos by Others, Page 37.
At Smyrna,TN I found the CL-44 "Skymonster" (still wearing 9G-LCA ) stored on the ramp of Tennessee Technical Services, a maintenance company for Boeing 727s and Douglas DC-8s. The future looked grim for the last Canadair CL-44, but please read on.|
Conroy CL-44 Guppy 9G-LCA (cn16), Tennessee Technical Svcs
From a Canadair CL-44 airframe one specialised conversion was made, by raising the upper fuselage by about 1.5 m (5 ft.); it was redesignated CL-44-0 and first flew on November 26, 1969. The conversion was done by Jack Conroy (Conroy Aircraft Corp.) in Santa Barbara,CA and the aircraft was previously owned by Flying Tiger Lines (N447T). The idea behind the conversion was to make it suitable for transporting complete RB-211 aircraft engines, for Lockheed's L-1011 Tristar production line; when Lockheed did not fall for the idea, Jack Conroy decided to go ahead anyway, in conjunction with Flying Tigers (though they decided they had no use for it, too).
It was delivered (on a lease) to Trans Meridian Air Cargo (N447T) on July 08th, 1970 upon its conversion to "Skymonster" (though this nickname was only given in later years, it started conventionally on delivery as "Conroy 103"). It operated from London-Stansted and kept its US-registration. HeavyLift Cargo Airliners bought it on August 11th, 1982, registered it as EI-BND and operated out of Southend, England. They stored it without further use it in October 1993. A new owner, ILG/LCA of Kansas City, bought it on December 29th 1993 and leased it to Buffalo Airways (NOT the Buffalo Airways of Yellowknife, Canada). Buffalo Aws was owned by Farhad Azima, an Iranian expatriate living in Kansas City. Mr Azima owns (or owned) Aviation Leasing Group (ALG) and was chairman of HeavyLift at the time of its shutdown in 2002.
The Skymonster was leased in August 1997 to Azerbaijan Airlines and re-registered as 4K-GUP, operating mainly out of Europe. After a short while it started operating for Baku Express, but this did not last long. It was registered to 9G-LCA of First International Airways in July 1998, operating out of Ostend,Belgium. It is rumored that behind these three name changes the same financial backer, Farhad Azima, was involved.
At Smyrna,TN it was welcomed by Tennessee Technical Services. This T.T.S. was a repair station which performed work (repairs plus B, C & D checks) on DC-8's and 727's and part of Azima's business empire. On June 3rd 1998, the first aircraft rolled into the TTS facility. Their website www.ttsrepair.com/ was no longer current in Mar.2004.
During 2002 a restoration project was started. The FAA issued a license for a one-time-exit-only from the States. By September 2002 the project was completed by TTS. Installing TCAS and rewiring navigational equipment brought much delay and frustration. The "Conroy Guppy" came with a spare engine, I was told. The project was inspired by an Englishman named Malcolm Porter, Loadmaster/Guppy 9G-LCA and Project Manager for ALGUK Ltd.
Further east, towards the Smoky Mountains, C-47A N62CC stood in pristine condition on the ramp of Knoxville's McGhee Tyson Airport. It is registered to Catalina Air, but it was locally referred to as "Steve Lance's plane". Unfortunately, I could not find Mr Lance and talk about his sharp looking bird. It is available for charters and supposedly in a "corporate configuration", seating 16, with a bar, tv and two couches. |
C-47A N62CC (cn13798/25243), Catalina Air Inc.
McGhee-Tyson Airport, Knoxville,TN 07aug01
As USAAF C-47A 43-47982, delivered on July 03rd 1944, it saw service with the 12th Air Force in Italy. It went back to the USA in 1945, but had grown a liking to Europe apparently as it went to Air France in May 1947 as F-BAXH. It was registered to Air Liban on June 25th 1951 as OD-ABK, but was again registered to Air France only 5 months later. In 1968 it was registered to SFA (?) and to Rousseau Aviation in May 1969. At one time it was registered as 9Q-CSM but this was not taken up and an actual move to Zaire was probably never made. It was at Dinard, France in 1970/1971. In 1983 we see for the first time N62CC entering the books, but a sale to Cook & Co again did not materialize. But in February 1988 it was registered to Virgil Air Corp., Bethel,CT as N62CC. See below for more. It was bought by Vandermeer Co. Inc. of Ridgewood,NJ on February 11th 1993. This did not last long, as in July of that year it was registered to Deutsche Kraft Inc., Lehighton,PA.
On Nov. 21st 1994 it was registered to CATALINA AIR INC., of Alcoa,TN. At the time of my visit it looked in an excellent condition and she features streamlined wheeldoorcovers ("speedpacks"), something you don't see very often. Catalina Air is a current "FAR 135 air charter company", offering passenger luxury air charter in a corporate configured DC-3. The aircraft seats 16 passengers, has a full bar tv,stereo, galley two restrooms, club seating and two couches. This aircraft has R-20000 engines.
Scott Grillo volunteered the following information, for which I am grateful:
"I stumbled on your website and wanted to fill you in a little more on this particular aircraft.
While this aircraft was owned by Virgil Air, it was managed by Capital Aviation of Oxford,CT, where I was a flight instructor and charter pilot.
My boss, Milt Marshall, a former pilot with the original Capital Airlines, flew the airplane with a number of co-pilots, including one flight with me.
The aircraft was built as a C-47, and subsequently converted by Douglas to DC-3 configuration. In the mid 50's (I can't recall the exact year) it was converted to a Pan American 'Hi-Per' conversion, which is where the gear doors and the R-2000s came from. There was also some changes to the fire detection and protections systems as part of the conversion. (This information comes from the data plates in the aircraft cockpit, as well as a supplement to the flight manual)
As best as we can see, we believed that the aircraft may have been operated by Castle & Cook, the Hawaiian corporation.
After it was sold by Virgil Air, I remember seeing the plane at the Reading, PA airport, and had not heard of of it since. The interior is a corporate interior done in a faux chinese motif.
Prior to Virgil Air owning it, it was owned by a Gentleman in Georgia, and it sported a Georgia Tech Bulldog mascot on the tail.
I seem to recall that the total airframe hours were quite low when compared to other DC-3s, but I haven't seen the logs in over 10 years!
My log book shows that I last flew N62CC on 25Jun89 for .5 hours on a local sightseeing excursion.
As a side, the Hi-Per conversion did improve performance, but proved on several occasions to be a pain. We cracked a collector ring on one, and could not find a replacement, at it appeared that it may have been a one-off for the conversion. Fortunately the one on the plane was repairable.
I have only seen one other like it. I was at KBUF (Greater Buffalo International Airport,NY) on a charter and spotted a DC-3 freighter with the same gear doors, and as best as I could tell seemed to be a similar conversion.
Hope this helps on the history of this bird."
He also sent me a pic with N62CC in "days gone past":
During mar08 it was offered for sale on www.gesoco.com -based at Swanton,VT- for usd 175.000 and ttl airframe hours 15.763 hrs.
|We had a wonderful drive through the Smoky Mountains and found our way back into the State of Georgia. At Calhoun I visited Mercer Air Field, which is a privat grass strip, with planes of the World Aircraft Museum on display. It features various military jets and a Convair T-29B (515145, US Navy). The museum seems closed but the planes sit on the grass field with easy access.|
Jerry R. Hagan volunteered the following info: "I was a crewman on the old T-29B back in 1969, flying out of VT-29 in Corpus Christi, TX. She was a beast! I flew as a Radioman and worked on the avionics package. She was definitely maintenance prone, lots of hydraulic and oil leaks and used many gallons of oil on a 6 hour flight. I flew aboard the T-29B and the TC-117D and I always preferred the tail dragger. As for our mission, we trained Navigators. The planes were equipped with sextant mounts in the overhead for taking celestial fixes." Jerry can be contacted at email to Jerry R. Hagan |
Convair T-29 515145 (cn276), VT-29 (6T009) USN, preserved.
This Ol' Soldier was delivered to the US Air Force as 51-5145 on Nov. 19th 1952. It first did service with 3535 Bombardment Training Wing, in 1954 with 3565 BTW and onwards to 3565 Amarillo Training Wings. Thus passed the 1950s with a few more transfers to various units. In June 1962 this Convair 240, designated a T-29B, was loaned to the US Navy. From January 29th 1963, it operated with Training Squadron VT-29. On October 15th 1975 it reached the end of its active military career: it was stored in the Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center (MASDC) at Davis-Monthan AFB, Tucson,AZ.
During Feb.2004 I received following email:
Jeremy Whitehead wrote me in March 2008 with this bleak outlook:
In July 2009 I read on a forum about the continued dilapidation of Mercer airfield and its collection:
During July 2004 I received following email from Bob Carlsen - |
Thought you would like to know as of today, July 11, 2004, the T-29 still stands somewhat lonely looking at Mercer. I have driven north and south on I-75 for many years, and used to notice the aircraft. However, in the last few years, the maturity of the trees are blocking the aircraft. On this trip, I made an effort to look for them and spotted them through the trees. For the first time, I exited the interstate, double backed two miles and found Mercer. Do you know any of the history of the field or any information about its current status, ownership, etc. It looks as if someone just closed and locked the door years ago and walked away. It was a weird experience. Any information would be appreciated.
Thanks Bob !
Anthony Underwood wrote me in June 2007:
In May 2011 I came across this -final?- update:
The final, clean-up message on the planes of Calhoun comes from Dave Wells, sent May 2012:
Former resident of Calhoun C-47H N47060 I found at Rome's Richard B. Russell Airport, some 60 miles southwest of Calhoun. Locally I was told that the aircraft had not flown in years and that the owner "lived up somewhere north". N47060 has a wooden sign in front of it, stating to be owned by the World Aircraft Museum, though the registration on this sign spelled N2805J !
The aircraft looks in airworthy condition and one can see "43-9095" appearing thru the paintwork.
C-47H N47060 (c/n 19066), World Aircraft Museum.
Richard B. Russell Airport, Rome,GA 08aug01
The first registration to enter the books was 42-100603 for the USAAF, but this was quickly altered into 39095 for the US Navy. It was delivered on November 11th 1943 and it served with various units: VR-3, VR-4, VR-13 and in 1946 with VMR-153. It certainly did go places, it even went to Pearl Harbor in March 1946. It remained for a long time in the militairy service, during the 1950s it apparently flew in the service of the US Marine Corps.
So we have US Army Air Force, US Navy, US Marines.... and in 1972 to the US Army (Missile Command) ! On this last assignment it wore 43-9095 as a tailnumber. Quite what its role was there, operational transport (not for missiles, surely !) or for some sort of display, I do not know.
It was registered to the State of Florida on August 19th 1975 and to the World Aircraft Museum, Calhoun,GA in Oct. 1981. For the past 20 years it has led a rather inactive life. Where will it go from here ?
Well, the reply came in 2007 (!), when Aad van der Voet (of Oldwings.nl) wrote me this:
"N47060 was, and still is, owned by Mr. Chad Nobert Koppie from Gilberts,IL. He is a very active 69-year old retired airline pilot and he is also the man behind the Northern Illinois Aircraft Museum Inc., to which N47060 was registered on 13May03. The museum's address is the same as Mr. Koppie's home address. Mr. Koppie is of course the owner whom you correctly describe on your website as the one "living somewhere up north".
He bought N47060 in 1999 and restored it to flying condition at Mercer Field. He then flew it out of there in late 1999 or early 2000. But due to engine troubles he was forced to land at nearby Richard B. Russell Airport, north of Rome, GA. The problems were too difficult/costly to solve and the aircraft was abandoned there.
N47060 was noted stored there in March 2000 and again by you in Aug01.
A few years later, N47060 was "adopted" by the TigerFlight Foundation. They are based at Rome's Richard B. Russell Airport and they have a hangar there. They moved the C-47 to a spot near their hangar, for intended use as a classroom for the foundation's children's program.
But in Sep06 Mr. Koppie finally came back down south and brought 2 new engines with him for his C-47. With the help of the TigerFlight Foundation volunteers, both engines were installed, fired up and running smoothly later that same month. N47060 was present at the North Georgia Air & Car Show at Richard B. Russell Airport on 21Oct06, but it did not fly!
Slow restoration continued, with hydraulics and full system checks were being planned for Dec06. However, Chad Koppie went up north again and work on the aircraft was halted. Today, N47060 is still stored at Richard B. Russell Airport and it still has not flown (now for more than 7 years).
The TigerFlight Foundation expects Chad Koppie to return any time soon to finish the job and collect his aircraft. His plans are to ferry it to Rockford,IL on a temporary permit and continue the restoration there. Once recertified with a current annual inspection, Koppie promised to lease the C-47 to the TigerFlight Foundation for $1.00 per year. They would then repaint it in its original OD green WW2 markings and redo the interior back to 21 jump seats, all on their expense. They then plan to fly it on the US airshow circuit. But, as always, it remains to be seen how much of these plans will actually become reality."
Nigel Aylmer same across N47060 on 24Nov07, at Rome,GA; photos see Photos by Friends & Guests (11)
In 2009 Jürgen Scherbarth found it at Thomaston,GA and he wrote:
John S. Cornacchione (SMSgt, USAF): wrote:"My Uncle, Joseph Anthony Cornacchione, was assigned to VR-13 during WW2 and this C-47H could have been a plane he flew on as an Aviation Radioman!
Hans Hoogers wrote me in Oct.2011 to correct me on two clerical errors (c/n written as 19060 corrected to 19066 and ex USAAF serial 42-100602 corrected to 42-100603) and reported sighting of N47060 at Basler in Oshkosh last july. See Ken Swartz'Oshkosh 2012 photos HERE..
|This trip proved to be very satisfactory, the friendly hospitality compensated for the heat and humidity in these parts during the summer months. But I found it distressing that so many propliners were stored or seemingly without work.|
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