Flying the Short SC.7 Skyvan, by Larry Miller

Larry D. Miller noticed a photo of this plane on my Alaska 2003 account and wrote me the following:
I flew this airplane (N101WA) for about one year from the time Petco Aviation bought it, until about December of 1975, at which time I went to work on the pipeline.
Petco was located in Anchorage on the Intl. Airport. Fellow named John Peterson owned it when I first got there and then John Kupka with Nasco Leasing took it over from John, I suspect for non-payment of something or other.

We operated "the Van" out of Anchorage for a couple of months in late '74, hauling barrel fuel and supplies to places like Rainy Pass lodge and a myriad of small villages in the Anchorage general vicinity. Then we got a contract with Geophysical Services Inc. (GSI) to support several of their geophysical camps on the north slope. So I packed up my bags and moved back to Fairbanks and flew two trips most everyday to the north slope and landed on frozen lakes with food, mail, dynamite, blasting caps, drill pipe, people, and everything else that they needed for the winter of '74. They had no other means to receive supplies except the Skyvan. When that contract was over in April '75, we went back to Anchorage for a month and then got a contract to fly paracargo out of Fort Wainright for the BLM during the fire season of '75( which was from the 1st of June till the 1st of September).
It was a great contract and we saw every inch of the state, flying the paracargo, which was all the supplies needed by the smokejumpers.

Photo by Nicolai Musante, Fairbanks April 2004. Click on the photo for a larger image--

The little Skyvan could do things that nobody believed possible. We could comfortably operate out of a thousand feet with 50 ft. trees at both ends. We landed on sand bars, the sides of mountains, roads, trails, and anywhere else that need be. If you weren't too heavy you could get it down and stopped in 500 ft. It had two Garrett 750 hp turbines on it and it flew as much out of brute force as anything else. But it was a joy to fly.

That whole time of pre-pipeline was so interesting because of so many of the guys who had just gotten back from Viet Nam and wanted to fly. They were flocking into Fairbanks by the droves.

Before I went to Petco, I worked in Fairbanks for Fairbanks Flight Service, which was the old Fairbanks Air Service. It had been bought out by a group of entrepeneurs from Seattle and we had several of those guys working there. We had three Skyvans and five Pilatus Porters and several smaller planes, 185's, 180's, Navajo's, Aztec's, Seneca's, and various other small ones.

(c) N.Musante

N101WA on

In Oct.2007 I received following message from David Langhoff:
"I have worked in Alaska also, from 1986-1992 and 2005,2006. I am an engineer and surveyor.
In 1990 I worked out of Rainy Pass, which you mentioned.
These days I live in Wisconsin and this aircraft is now in Wisconsin too... It is at the East Troy airport, about 30 miles southwest of Milwaukee.
A pilot/mechanic purchased the plane and drove it from Alaska to Wisconsin, a few weeks ago. He refurbishes aircraft.
The wings are now off and it may have been in some kind of accident. Don't know the details about this yet."

Found this on
Accidents And Incidents, Air Safety Week, March 27, 2006
DATE/SITE: 17 March 0045Z Fairbanks, Alaska
AIRCRAFT & REGN: SC7 Skyvan Reg N101WA
CIRCUMSTANCES: During taxi-in, Skyvan struck parked aircraft (substantial damage).
PRELIMINARY ANALYSIS2 Imagery at Due to crowded ramp spaces.

[At this time, Oct.2007, N101WA is still registered to Arctic Air Group (since 15Aug98) ]

Dave Richardson wrote me in Oct.2007 with an interesting update:
"I have recently received a fleet listing from North Star Air Cargo of East Troy,MI who added this aircraft to their listing."
Subesequently the following was published in de Dec.2007 issue of Aviation Letter:
N101WA registered on 14jun07 to Baxter F.Snider and on 15Oct07 to North Star Air Cargo.

Dwayne Crow wrote me in Jan.2016:
"This airplane was used on a 'McMillan & Wife'-episode ("Cross and Double Cross"; series ran 1971-1977 ref, which originally aired on 17Feb1974.
It got quite a bit of screen time in the episode in several skydiving scenes!"

Back to Propliners on the Last Frontier (2003), Part 2.

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Last updated 19.01.2016