C-119 N801W: a rogue plane ??!


N801W Douglas sent me this C-119 photo, asking me to help with the identification.
The tailnumber N801W has been painted on, rather crudely. The photo was made by Steve Robbins at Eloy,AZ on 12Apr1980.

Best offer yet: C-119F N8501W, c/n 10880 (ex/ BuNo.131695)

close up

I browsed to 1979 - 1983 (Vol. 1-18) of Propliner magazine, but found no images of this N801W.
There is no reference of N801W (afaik) in Alwyn T.Lloyd's book about the C-82 packet & C-119 Flying Boxcar; but then the amount of info on the civilian careers of these aircraft is limited.

Bob Reid offered the following theory (proven false but interesting nevertheless):
"I am wondering if the date on the photo may be incorrect? N801W has always been registered to a Beech 65!
The aircraft in the accident as shown below was a drug runner and I recall this accident well, as I was working for the State of Arizona as an investigator..
The C-119  exploded on impact, as it was filled with 55gal barrels full of avgas. There wasn't much left.
The  N number on the photo taken by Steve may have been fictitious?
NTSB Identification: LAX79FA059 - 14 CFR Part 91 General Aviation
Event occurred Sunday, July 08, 1979 in CASA GRANDE, AZ
Aircraft: FAIRCHILD C-119L, registration: N1040E
Departure point: Chandler,AZ.
Type of accident: no.1 engine failure during flight cruise, emergency landing, made an intentional wheels up landing off airport in open field, fire broke out after impact.

Note: no mention of the operator. See also ASN report.
Fact remains that the date is earlier than the alleged date of photography and quoted tailnumber is different than the N801W roughly painted on.
Images of N1040E to compare? N1040E was also a Lockheed Learstar, see 1970 photo.

Simon Beck, researcher and bookpublisher on the C-82 Packet (C-119 book in the works anno 2018) wrote me the following (20Sep2018):
"... the C-119 you mention with a mystery serial number 'N801W'. I have FAA files for N4234S and during 1980 it was briefly registered 'N8?01W'...
The second digit is covered by a stamp and cannot be made out but it could be a '6' or a '9', or... nothing at all?
The only problem is the aircraft was a R4Q-2 BuN.131690 and the C-119 in the photo is an ex-ANG one from the livery..?
It was owned by Dross Metals and many of their FAA paper work is sloppy to say the least."
Simon later came back to me: "I think it might be N8501W (c/n 10880) of DMI Aviation. The aircraft is certainly an ANG C-119L which does narrow things." (Nov.2018).

N8501W is still with us and relatively well at Palmer,AK!
But was not a C-119L, but rather a C-119F, according to Joe Baugher:
'(BuNos 131662/131719) - Fairchild R4Q-2 Packet. 131690/131719 were (msn)10875/10904
Navy equivalent of C-119F - redesignated C-119F in 1962.
BuNo.131695 (msn 10880) to MASDC as 4C0021 Aug 22, 1973. To civil register as N8501W, John Reffett, Eagle River, AK.
(I have not made a study of the difference(s) between the type identifiers C-119L and C-119F -RL webmaster)
N8501W appears on my website a number of times, e.g. Alaska 2003


Suggestions, ideas, leads & links to solve the mystery would be appreciated !!



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Created: 16-Aug-08
Updated 13-Apr-2019