USA 2012

Visit to TransNorthern Aviation

Copyright Ruud Leeuw Photos © R.Leeuw

During my visits to Alaska in 2003 and 2006 I had received a warm welcome with Transnorthern Aviation; it was high on my list to revisit them again and good to see the company undergoing a steady growth, even in these trying times.



Transnorthern Aviation, Alaska

Alan Larson was my kind host this time; besides running the company with Andrea he flies the planes, helps loading them, supervises the handling... Such as this day, for a group of Austrian propliner enthusiasts who had chartered N30TN for a 1-hour flightseeing flight.
I was thankful that in spite of his busy day he could share a few words with me. And it was warm on that brand new coalblack ramp!
In the background one can see C-117D N29TN which is being prepared to join operations, hopefully later this year.
UPDATE Oct.2020: "Alan Larson posted the following announcement on Facebook. "TransNorthern converted this aircraft [N29TN] to a 19 passenger executive Part 135 aircraft in 2007 and operated it in Alaska serving High End Fishing Lodges until 2014. It will be used to training veterans to learn new skills in Aircraft Maintenance in 2021." From
From that same link: 'N29TN is one of four Super DC-3s owned by TransNorthern with N28TN flying freight, N30TN flying passengers and N27TN stored at Wasilla Airport.'

The relocation initially to Beaufort,SC was to convert it to a bug sprayer, but this never happened. They purchased 2 Convair C-131s instead (1 for spares and training, two operated there for many years).
Alexander Mitchell wrote me in Sep.2018: 'A wee bit of history from N30TN's Beaufort County days: I was TOLD by a former County Mosquito Control Bureau employee that the DC3 they "acquired" was looked at for spraying, but that they never actually ended up using it as such because it was too heavy with the equipment onboard to take
off from the airport at St. Helena Island/Frogmore, where it was based.
I cannot verify this, though."

TransNorthen, Anchorage

TransNorthern began operations in Talkeetna,AK in 1995, flying flight tours around and over the summit of Mt. McKinley in a Cessna Caravan. Andrea Armstrong and Alan Larson, both pilots, ran the Talkeetna operation. TransNorthern flew gravity and magnetic surveys in the Cessna Caravan and other aircraft for a geophysical survey company based in Houston,TX throughout the US and South America for 3 years with the last job being in Cambodia.
After TransNorthern moved to Anchorage in 1999, operating from their Lake Hood office and hangar, they began running passenger service in a Caravan and Navajo between Kenai and Anchorage, eleven round trips per day. They also flew to lodges and provided on-demand charter service in those aircraft as well as Beech 99’s, Beech 18’s, and a Cessna 402.
TransNorthern also ran Medevac operations in King Air 90’s out of Kotzebue.

Transnorthern Aviation, Alaska

In 2001, a Super DC-3 was acquired and Andrea and Alan spent almost a year overcoming endless hurdles to get it on line. After considerable effort this 19-passenger / cargo combi aircraft was approved for operations and their Super DC-3 was registered as N32TN. (See my 2003 page).

Flying mostly cargo with the aircraft, they purchased a second Super DC-3 in 2004 out of Beaufort,SC.
This aircraft was Mr. Douglas’s personal demonstrator aircraft in the 1950’s and was the 1st Commercial Super DC-3 ever built.
N30TN, flew its first ever (!) commercial flight in June 2004, to the Alaska Sportsman’s Lodge in Igigug,AK.
A new paint job was completed in the spring of 2005.
This Super DC-3 is in high demand for flying passengers throughout Alaska, to various fishing and hunting lodges, flight tours, and for on-demand aircraft charters. No other aircraft is better suited to carry 19 people and their gear to short, sometimes muddy gravel runways in Alaska than the Super DC-3...

Transnorthern Aviation, Alaska

N30TN is a C-117D Super Dakota, c/n 43159, registered to DES LLC (Wilmington,DE) 17Aug04.
It was modified from c/n 4122 and registered N15579 for Douglas Aircraft, reregistered (much nicer!) N30000 in about 1951.
Mick West clarified: "...according to the Putnam book this was the second prototype DC-3S converted by Douglas about 1949 , retaining its reg N(C)15579; but when the first DC-3S N30000 was transferred to the USAF (as YC-129 51-3817 in 1951), this DC-3S was reallocated the reg N30000 (in 1951), eventually being sold to a construction company."
At some point (date?) it became N222HC for the Harbet Construction Company, moving on to Raytheon Corporation (date?) and Bolger Corporation and reregistered to N223R (for whom? date?).
Things become a little more clearer from here...
N6811 became the new tailnumber for Burdish Grain Company of Minneapolis,MN in March 1964.
Its career becomed a little more adventurous, when registered as XB-NIW for Banco Mercantil & Supermercado SA (named "Ave Fenix") on 13Aug66. In Oct.1972 it was reregistered as N567M for K R McDonald of Great Falls. The next owner was Air Travel Associates (Dallas,TX) on 23Aug76 and Air Line Service Company (date?) was next again...
I am assuming it still transported passengers in VIP-configuration.

Aero Union Corporation of Chico,CA bought it on 27Oct82, but sold it to World Air Mechanics Inc of Bridgeton,MO in Nov83.Air Center Inc (Chattanooga,TN) was registered as owner in Jan. 1984 (broker? operator?).
From VIP-transport to ??? Well, on 29May86 the County Council of Beaufort,SC bought it (or actually seized it because of outstanding parking fees...) and deployed it on mosquito control! So it was turned into a sprayer of insecticide.
And in 2004 it was bought by Transnorthern, to replace N32TN (which had been claimed by Nick Oppergard in their bitter 'business seperation').
See also ANCHORAGE 2006


Transnorthern Aviation, Alaska
Douglas C-117D N28TN has c/n 43354 and still wears the red colourscheme of the previous operator:
Kenn Borek Air from Alberta, Canada. It joined TransNorthern in 2007.

Transnorthern Aviation, Alaska
Douglas C-117D N28TN from another angle.
Four Super DC-3s are owned by TransNorthern with N28TN flying freight, N30TN flying passengers and N27TN stored at Wasilla Airport. N29TN will be used as an instructional airframe to train engineers (2021).


Transnorthern Aviation, Alaska
C-117D N29TN is c/n 43302 and has been reg'd to May Investments LLC since 27May09.
As N851M it saw use as a mosquito sprayer in the 1970s and during 1990s it was ferried to California;
years later it was offered for sale.

Transnorthern Aviation, Alaska
UPDATE: on Facebook I read a news item by Air Heritage Inc that they had acquired N29TN (19Oct2018).
UPDATE Oct.2020: "Alan Larson posted the following announcement on Facebook: "TransNorthern converted this aircraft [N29TN] to a 19 passenger executive Part 135 aircraft in 2007 and operated it in Alaska serving High End Fishing Lodges until 2014. It will be used to training veterans to learn new skills in Aircraft Maintenance in 2021."

Transnorthern Aviation, Alaska
The cabin of N29TN is getting new upholstery; the seats may see change too. My conversation with the person
performing the work in the cabin was cut short when N30TN was heard starting an engine, so I cut my visit short,
after quickly taking a photo of the cockpit. Click on below thumbnail for a larger image...

Transnorthern Aviation, Alaska

Transnorthern Aviation, Alaska
The twin turbine Beechcraft 99 and Metroliner aircraft easily seat 9 passengers each with plenty of legroom and
great visibility along with separate baggage or cargo compartments for a safe and comfortable ride.
These aircraft can fly directly to most any remote airstrip in Alaska.

Transnorthern Aviation, Alaska
TransNorthern currently operates Twin Turbine Metroliners and Beechcraft 99 aircraft as well as 4 Super DC-3’s -
all the aircraft are for passengers, cargo and combination charters - on demand.
They also provide weekday FedEx and UPS freight-delivery service to Kodiak, Kenai, and Homer, Alaska.


Transnorthern Aviation, Alaska
Engine no.2 is running smooth while engine no.1 is dispersing the smoke it made while starting.

Transnorthern Aviation, Alaska
Only at Anchorage! While N30TN is leaving its stand, one can see on the left a DHC-2 taking off from Lake Hood
and a 747 taking off from rw32. Quite a complex job to work atc here!

Transnorthern Aviation, Alaska
The Super DC-3 head on!

Transnorthern Aviation, Alaska

Transnorthern Aviation, Alaska

Transnorthern Aviation, Alaska
A sight and sound to behold: the Super DC-3 is on its way!




Transnorthern Aviation, Alaska
The Chugach Mountains provide the most amazing backdrop here and those on board N30TN were in for an excellent trip!


I am indebted to Andrea & Alan for their time and hospitality, many thanks!




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USA 2012

'Pacific Northwest & Alaska'



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