Alaska - Canada News
Keystone Airpark Electras & DC-4 – October 18, 2020
DC-4 N55CW was parked at the approach end of runway 5 and, as reported on March 15, 2020, was being prepared for a ferry flight to Buffalo’s maintenance base in Red Deer, Alberta by Ronny McBryan in February 2020 when he fell ill and had to return to Canada. The aircraft was just about ready to make the flight but then COVID-19 happened, the U.S.-Canadian border was closed and the airplane has remained parked at the airport ever since. Like the rest of the Buffalo DC-4 fleet, the aircraft is for sale and, with the demise of Alaska Air Fuel’s DC-4 N96358 a few weeks ago, Joe McBryan may have a buyer for the aircraft. There are very few airworthy and near-airworthy DC-4s and N55CW would make an ideal fuel hauler since it was last used as an oil dispersant sprayer and it comes complete with tanks.
I visited Keystone Airpark on October 16, 2020 and, in addition to visiting MHD-Rockland, I had the opportunity to photograph the four former Zantop Electras (N282F, N286F, N340HA and N346HA) and Buffalo Airways DC-4 N55CW that have been parked at the airport for a number of years. After Zantop ceased operations in 2001, the four Electras were stored in Ypsilanti, Michigan for quite a few years before being acquired by MHD-Rockland. One by one they were made airworthy and flown to Keystone Heights in late 2014/early 2015 using one set of engines provided by Buffalo Airways. MHD-Rockland teamed with Electra expert Don Deyo of Mercair and Buffalo Airways with the goal of restoring the aircraft as freighters and/or firebombers. For whatever reason, the venture never gelled and the Electras were parked at the southwest end of the airport near the approach end of runway 5. They have since been moved to a grassy area near t-hangars at the northeast corner of the airport. I witnessed the arrival of two of the Electras and it’s sad to see how quickly they have deteriorated. All four aircraft are covered with dark mold and, as reported on September 1, 2020 unless a last minute buyer appears, the aircraft will most likely be scrapped.
DC-4 Damaged in Runway Overrun – October 15, 2020
Alaska Air Fuel DC-4 N96358 was severely damaged when it overran the runway at Yakataga Airport, Alaska on Saturday October 10, 2020. While the aircraft came to rest sitting on its nose with its nose gear lying nearby, luckily none of the crew members were injured. The aircraft was delivering fuel to the remote 4,350 foot landing strip but no fuel was spilled during the incident. The FAA had recently issued a NOTAM warning pilots not to use the unpaved runway for aircraft weighing over 5,000 pounds due to the runway's soft surface and recent damage to it. At this time it is not known if the aircraft will be repaired. Alaska Air Fuel owns another DC-4, N3054V, which is stored at Wasilla Airport. This report is based on an article originally published in the October 13, 2020 edition of The Cardova Times.
Abbotsford Firecats Scrapped – October 4, 2020
Firecats have a long history of firefighting in Canada and for many years there was a large collection of retired aircraft at the Conair boneyard at Abbotsford Airport. Gord Spruyt visited the airport on September 26, 2020 and reports that the remaining aircraft were being scrapped. While many retired Firecats were donated to museums or serve as gate guards around Canada, there was absolutely no market for the remaining aircraft and it was only a matter of time before their date with the scrapman would come. I visited Abbotsford in September 2014 when there were no fewer than 12 Firecats in the boneyard ranging in condition from total derelict to near-airworthy. It’s a sad end to an era but we can take some solace in that CAL FIRE still operates 20+ turboprop S-2T firebombers in California.
DC-3 Soldiers on in Peterborough, Ontario – September 8, 2020 - UPDATED October 2, 2020
DC-3 C-GJDM has been a resident of Peterborough Municipal Airport in Ontario, Canada for the past 30+ years and has remained earthbound for most of that time. Over time the engines and control surfaces were removed and the airplane was deregistered in 1993. While the DC-3 appeared to be derelict, it had seen military service with both the USAF and Spanish AF until 1976 and apparently was still fitted with much of its original military equipment. Registered C-GJDM in August 1986, the aircraft was fitted with 980 HP PZL-621 engines and 4-bladed props by Airtech Canada at Peterborough Airport. The aircraft made its first flight with the new engines and props on March 6, 1987 but the company’s efforts to market the conversion was not successful and the aircraft remained parked at the airport.
Owner Tim Pickett and Charlie Walker agreed on a deal and, on January 30, 2019 a team from the Coventry, England based ‘Night Fright’ C-47 restoration project arrived to collect its valuable parts and pieces. Over the next five days they did just that; harvesting parts from the aircraft and packing them in a sea container for shipment back to England. Two engines were part of the deal and were also loaded into the container. Since the aircraft was in such good condition, the crew took great care to not inflict any further damage during the disassembly process. The parts they harvested included a complete metal cargo floor; front and rear bulkheads; two engines; wheels; cowlings; radio operator chair; gages and instruments; cargo door; nose cone; tail cone; pilot tubes; and a host of smaller parts and pieces. The crew documented their five day expedition in a series of short videos posted on Facebook.
January 30, 2019
January 31, 2019
February 1, 2019
February 2, 2019 Part 1
February 2, 2019 Part 2
February 3, 2019
Ken Swartz has photographed the DC-3 over the years and did so in July 2019 after the Coventry crew had completed their work. He visited the airport again on September 26, 2020 and reports that there were no changes in the status of the aircraft. Hopefully it won't be scrapped and perhaps would make a good candidate for a Basler BT-67 turbo conversion. Another interesting resident of the airport is the Beech 99 prototype N212BH, serial number U-1. I’d like to thank Ken Swartz for sharing his photos of C-GJDM and N212BH. Over the years he’s traveled throughout Canada and the United States photographing a wide variety of aircraft and has generously allowed me to share many of them on this website.
Pilot Error Suspected in BT-67 Crash – September 1, 2020
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada released its final report yesterday on the June 21, 2019 forced landing of North Star Air BT-67 C-FKGL shortly after takeoff from Fort Hope Airport, Ontario. The aircraft ended up in Eabamet Lake and luckily neither pilot suffering any injuries. The report states the probable cause: "After lifting the landing gear control handle, with his left hand on or near the throttle quadrant, the pilot not flying may have inadvertently moved the fuel condition levers, cutting the fuel to both engines simultaneously." For complete details of the incident, check out the TSB Report.
Gimli C-46 Remains Grounded – September 1, 2020
Mike Golberg recently asked if I had any recent information on C-46F C-GIBX, which has been parked at Gimli, Manitoba for quite a few years. I reached out to my Canadian contacts, but no one seemed to have the current status of this aircraft. Ken Swartz pointed me towards Ruud Leeuw’s excellent website, which had a number of reports regarding the aircraft, including a 2019 update. Multiple reports start about halfway down the page and I've summarized them below. http://www.ruudleeuw.com/canada07-gimli.htm
September 2017 UPDATE from Stan Mason:
"We have emailed previously some time ago re the above aircraft, and over last couple of years I have been in touch with a guy named Tom Phinney, who is at GIMLI and looks after 'IBX from engineering side. He was once Technical Director for Air Manitoba many years back. Well, the news is that the aircraft has been sold!! And Tom is getting the C of A back - currently just fitted two refurbished props. It is being bought by TransNorthern Aviation in Anchorage (their website offline at present) to add to their DC3 fleet."
September 2017 UPDATE from Alan Larson of TransNorthen Aviation:
"Actually the C46 is being purchased by a businessman here in Alaska. He operates a fuel farm in McGrath Alaska and purchased it to cover times when the river is too low to permit barge shipment of fuel to his facility. And because he likes airplanes! We hope to reposition the aircraft to Anchorage as early as next week (1st week of October -Webmaster) and TransNorthern will be crewing and maintaining the airplane. We will update you and also would certainly like to receive pictures of the aircraft in its past life!"
September 2018 UPDATE:
A ferry flight to Alaska was delayed due to a technical snag: a frozen fuel line had ruptured and repairs required a wing pull (status per Nov.2017). In Sep.2018 I received an update, "still arguing with the owner who is to pay for what." Not sure if that means whether that fuel line has been repaired or not.
A few years ago a deal was in the making, C-GIBX was to be sold to operate a mining contract in Alaska, on the AOC of TransNorthern Aviation of Anchorage, AK. But in preparation for the sale it was found that an expensive repair needed to be performed: a wing pull to address damage by a frozen and ruptured fuel line. By early 2019 that that repair was done and C-GIBX was looking better than a few years ago. Except seller and buyer went head-to-head about the repair bill, each refusing to budge and thus the status quo continues, C-GIBX isn't moving from Gimli as yet.
UPDATE - Mike reached out to Alan Larson at TransNorthern, who told him that the dispute over the repair bill continues and that the aircraft probably needs about 3 days work to get it back flying. It would be a real shame if it remained parked because of a dispute over a mechanic's bill. Mike also found this up-close and personal YouTube video of the aircraft. It was uploaded to YouTube on May 20, 2020 so I'm assuming it's fairly current. Please email me at email@example.com if you have any additional info on this aircraft.
Buffalo's Latest CL215 Being Readied for Ferry Flight – August 30, 2020 - UPDATED September 12, 2020
Dale Sawchuk reports that Buffalo Airway’s recently acquired CL215 water bomber C-FTUV #256 is being made airworthy in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The aircraft has previously seen service with the Governments of Quebec and Manitoba and also Conifair before Buffalo acquired it in early 2020. Dale’s August 2nd report…"Buffalo’s CL215 #256 is getting brought back to life after sitting for about ten years. Engines are oiled and were fired up and I was told they started up fine. The props will be overhauled before it departs Winnipeg." UPDATE – Fred Barnes photographed #256 at Winnipeg on September 15, 2009. He believes that the CL215 fleet was still active at the time.
Buffalo and Air Spray Aircraft Photo Survey – August 3, 2020
Pierre Gillard traveled to Yellowknife, NWT and Red Deer, AB earlier this year and photographed what appears to be every Buffalo and Air Spray aircraft on-site. The photos serve as a great snapshot of the current aircraft population at both locations, both active and stored. Here are links to his blog with Buffalo aircraft and the Air Spray aircraft photos. I've updated the Photos & Videos Page of this website with many of Pierre's photos.
Pierre also recently wrote an article for the Québec Aerospace Museum about his C-46 flight on Buffalo’s Valley Run delivering essential cargo to the remote Mackenzie Valley communities of Norman Wells, Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake. Buffalo operates two C-46 type aircraft, with C-GTPO carrying 14,000 lbs of cargo to the three destinations on Pierre’s flight.
Many thanks to Pierre for sharing his article and very impressive photo collection. For more of his amazing photos, check out his aviation photo blog.
Fairbanks DC-6A House Project – July 29, 2020 - UPDATED August 4, 2020
DC-6A N12347 has been a fixture on the Old Steese Highway north of Fairbanks for many years. I first heard about it during my first trip to Alaska in 2005 but it wasn’t until 2011 that I found and photographed it for the first time. During my May 2019 visit to Fairbanks it was still parked on the side of the road without wings and appeared much the same as it did back in 2011. It was always a mystery to me why someone would have gone through the trouble of moving it there and Jacob Naber finally shed some light on this little mystery in his July 30, 2020 Facebook post. "Work has finally started on my dad's 1953 DC-6 N12347. After 17 years sitting up here in the hills were finally getting to her. She was put on pilings a few weeks ago. And within this last week we've put a wing back on along with motors and some ridiculously bent props. This old girl is getting converted into a house by my dad." Jacob also included some recent photos.
I wish Jacob and his father luck in this endeavor and look forward to seeing the final project during my next visit to Alaska, which hopefully will be in 2021. Many thanks to Jacob for sharing his photos.
Fred Barnes sent me a photo of the aircraft taken in Anchorage, Alaska where it was being prepared for the fish hauling season on May 4, 1986. At the time the aircraft was owned by Aerolaska.
Desert Air Alaska Leases DC-3 – July 9, 2020
Desert Air Alaska has recently leased DC-3 N59314 from Bush Air Cargo and will begin operating it in the near future just in time for the busy summer season. N59314 will join DC-3’s N272R and N44587, which are currently operated by Desert Air.
Palmer DC-3 Update – June 12, 2020
Andrew Gudeman reported in a June 2nd Facebook post that he was performing an annual inspection on DC-3 N400MF. This aircraft has done little to no flying since arriving in Alaska in April 2015 and has been parked at Palmer Municipal Airport since shortly after arriving. When I visited Palmer in May 2019, the aircraft was missing its #1 prop but otherwise appeared to be in good condition. In the photo posted by Andrew, he appears to be installing the missing prop. There have been rumors about a possible sale so perhaps this veteran aircraft will be returning to the air soon.
Additional Photos of DC-6B Arriving in Norway – June 6, 2020
Richard Toft captured the arrival of DC-6B N151 at Sola Airport in a series of photos and has allowed me to share them on this website. Many thanks to Richard for allowing the use of his photos.
Initial Cleanup of Brooks Fuel Compound Complete – June 5, 2020
Levy Ballard reports that the initial cleanup of the Brooks Fuel compound at Fairbanks International Airport has been completed. As reported on April 21, 2020, 1st Strike Asset Management was contracted to clean up the facility, which included three DC-4 hulks, a nearly complete DC-4, aircraft engines and a multitude of parts and equipment. All of these items were offered for sale on an on-line auction with bids due April 10th. DC-4 N51802 was sold to Alaska Air Fuel and has been moved to a nearby airport location; N67018 was towed to the Everts ramp for temporary storage; and the remaining two aircraft, N99212 and N90201, were expected to be moved off the compound last weekend. Rumor has it that one of the two had already been sold to a company that plans on submerging it for use as a diving attraction with the other outfitted for use as a B&B. Only time will tell if these plans come to fruition. Now that the initial cleanup has been completed and the equipment removed, the state will perform a hazardous material remediation of the site.
DC-6B Arrives Safely in Norway After 15+ Hour Flight – June 2, 2020
After making a diversion to Bergen for a low pass down the airport's runway, N151 turned south and completed the final leg of its epic Alaska to Norway journey. Following a final flyby at Stavanger's Sola Airport, the aircraft's flying career came to an end at 3:26pm local time when it safely landed at the airport. Mikey McBryan created a very nice YouTube Video documenting the aircraft's refueling stop in Yellowknife and its arrival in Stavanger.
DC-6B Makes Early Morning Departure From Fairbanks – June 1, 2020
DC-6B N151 departed Fairbanks this morning at 3:28am local time for the 4½ hour flight to Yellowknife, NWT but was forced to return to Fairbanks due to a minor mechanical issue. The aircraft arrived back in Fairbanks at 4:23am and the problem was quickly rectified. Departing again at 6:38am, the aircraft arrived in Yellowknife after a 4 hour/40 minute flight. After taking on fuel in Yellowknife, the aircraft is scheduled to depart for the long nonstop flight to Stavanger, Norway. Karen Wing forwarded the photo of N151’s nose art, which was created by Ron Klemm and applied to the aircraft yesterday.
After being on the ground in Yellowknife for about 3½ hours, the aircraft and crew departed for Stavanger at 3:42pm local time. Expected arrival at Stavanger is about 2:00pm local time tomorrow. Anthony Jarvis was on the ground at Yellowknife to witness the event and provided the following report and photos via Facebook. "Wow....talk about a coincidence......following my post earlier about DC-6 C-GPEG, along comes N151 out of the murk here in Yellowknife transiting from Alaska to Norway and Museum. With it is the Norwegian Iditarod Dog Sled team. Joe suggested they walk the dogs while refueling and Buffalo crews helped out. For all of you on the other side of the pond, they will be departing and going direct, 14hrs. to Norway. Here are some pics!"
Many thanks to Anthony for his report and for allowing the use of his photos.
Norway Bound DC-6B Painted in Braathen-SAFE Colors – May 31, 2020
In preparation for its delivery flight to the Flyhistorisk Museum Sola in Stavanger, Norway, DC-6B N151 was painted in 1960’s era Braathen-SAFE colors. It was recently rolled out of the Everts North Hangar at Fairbanks International Airport and looked absolutely stunning. If all goes to plan, the aircraft will depart Fairbanks for Norway on Monday June 1st. Being of Norwegian heritage (parents immigrated to the United States), I have visited Stavanger on a number of occasions and look forward to seeing the aircraft during my next visit, which hopefully will be in 2021.
DC-6B Delivery To Norway Scheduled for June 1-2, 2020 – May 28, 2020
The Flyhistorisk Museum Sola in Stavanger, Norway announced on its website on May 27th that the long delayed arrival of DC-6B N151 at the museum is expected to happen on June 2, 2020. As reported on March 15, 2020 and September 16, 2019 Everts Air Cargo has recently retired the aircraft after many years of flying cargo around Alaska and the former Braathens-SAFE aircraft was acquired by the museum. Here’s the article translated to English by yours truly using Google Translator.
DC-6B Expected to Finally Arrive at Sola Airport!
If all goes according to plan, DC-6B N151 will depart Alaska for Norway on June 1, 2020, with an expected arrival at Stavanger’s Sola Airport Sola on June 2nd. The history of this aircraft has stirred national and international interest, with the latest mention of it being made in the New York Times on May 26, 2020.
The Jær Museum and Flyhistorisk Museum Sola (FMS) have worked for a year to get the aircraft from Alaska to Norway. Prior to this, a group of former Braathen employees, led by Jon Stokke, worked on the project for several years.
The Douglas DC-6B was a central part of Braathens SAFE’s aircraft fleet from 1962 to 1973. It was used on charter operations around the world and also on the airline’s domestic network in Norway. N151 was operated by Everts Air Cargo in Alaska for many years and, during his long career, has been home based on three different continents.
The “Ludv. G. Braathen's Fund for the Promotion of Norwegian Aviation” allocated funds for the purchase of the aircraft and the Flight History Museum Sola initiated action to raise funds for a ten-year maintenance fund.
The original agreement with Everts Air Cargo was that the aircraft would fly over to Norway in November 2019. When the owner of the company, Robert Everts, needed a plane for missions in Alaska during the fall, he asked for the suspension of the ferry flights until March 2020. The Jær Museum accepted this, with the deadline for delivery before 1 April 2020.
In mid-March the corona virus knocked out normal interaction between countries around the world and it became clear that the aircraft could not be delivered within the agreed deadline. In addition, the dollar exchange rate rose to a level far beyond the funds that the Braathens Fund had allocated for the purchase. Without a new specific delivery date, there was great uncertainty about the original financing plan and what funds would be available. As a result, the purchase had to be canceled.
Iditarod champion Thomas Wærner became aware of the situation regarding the aircraft. After winning the prestigious Alaskan Iditarod sled dog race March 2020, he suffered a coronary and wasn’t able to return to Oppland where his wife and five children were waiting. He now saw his chance to return home, and brought along one of his sponsors, Aker BioMarine. In addition, the municipality of Sola provided financial support for the aircraft. With these funds added to the Ludv. G. Braathens Fund, it was now possible to plan the flights from Alaska to Stavanger!
The aircraft is scheduled to arrive at Sola mid-day on June 2. There will be a reception for the aircraft, aircrew and owner Robert Everts, Thomas Wærner and the dogs inside Avinor's area with invited guests. Due to the corona virus and resulting infection control rules, space is limited and unfortunately it will not be possible for the event to be open to the general public.
The current schedule and route looks like this, but changes can occur and will be updated continuously:
The scheduled departure from Fairbanks, Alaska on June 1st is between 3:00am and 4:00am local time.
There will be a stop in Yellowknife, Canada. The flight time to Yellowknife will be approximately 4½ hours.
If weather conditions are favorable, the plan is to fly non-stop to Stavanger with a flight time of between 15½ and 16 hours.
If all goes to plan, the arrival at Sola will be approximately 12 noon on June 2nd.
The flight’s progress can be monitored on Flight Radar 24 using using the call sign N151.
The aircraft will remain at Sola Airport for a few months and then will be relocated to the Flyhistorisk Museum Sola to become part of the museum’s permanent collection. It will be placed on display outside of the museum with plans to have an exhibit inside the aircraft for museum visitors.
"Conair – 50 Years in 5 Minutes" Video – May 24, 2020
Very nice vimeo video chronicling Conair’s first 50 years by photo.
2019 "News" – Air Spray Adds CL-215 and CL-415's to Fleet – May 21, 2020
In November 2018 the Province of Manitoba awarded a ten-year aerial firefighting contract to Babcock Canada. Babcock subcontracted flight operations to Air Spray, which has many years of aerial firefighting experience in Canada, United States and Europe. The contract included the management, maintenance and operation of Manitoba’s fleet of four CL-415 and three CL-215 aircraft supported by three Babcock owned Twin Commander “bird-dog” aircraft. The Babcock press release stated that the province would retain ownership of the aircraft, parts, inventory, tools and equipment but would lease them to Babcock for the life of the contract. Interestingly, between June 2019 and April 2020, all seven waterbombers were registered to Air Spray. They include CL-215’s C-GMAF, C-GMAK, C-GBOW and CL-415’s C-GMFW, C-GMFX, and C-GMFY and C-GMFZ. Apparently the Canadian Civil Register differs from the FAA Register in that it records the “operator” of an aircraft and not necessarily the “owner.” Air Spray has expanded its business base in recent years to include the establishment of an US tanker base in Chico, California and the award of FireBoss and Bureau of Land Management AT-802 SEAT contracts in Oregon, Washington and Alaska. For more information, check out the Babcock November 2018 press release.
Buffalo P-3A Aircrew Training at McClellan – May 12, 2020
As reported on April 30th Buffalo Airways has leased P-3A N922AU #22 to Airstrike Firefighters for use on their California aerial firefighting contract alongside N923AU #23. Sergio Maraschin photographed the aircraft on May 10, 2020 at Sacramento McClellan Airport undergoing aircrew training. After being grounded for many years, it's great to see these two aircraft flying again. Many thanks to Sergio for sharing his photos.
Unalakleet C-97 Storage Shed – May 4, 2020
Alec Jurgeleit recently visited Unalakleet, Alaska and photographed the fuselage of C-97L N4580Q, which has been converted into a very nice storage shed by one of the locals. The aircraft saw service with the USAF as 53-223 and was converted to a KC-97L with the Oklahoma ANG late in its career. Acquired by Stratolifter in November 1986, it saw service in Alaska before being written off after catching fire while offloading fuel in Unalakleet on May 18, 1989. For more information about that incident check out the Aviation Safety Network website. The first two photos show the current state of N4580Q and the third photo shows it at Kenai in the late 1980s, where it was based hauling fish. The Kenai photo was taken by Rob Collard from the right seat of Stratolifter C-97 N39178. Many thanks to Alec and Rob for sharing their photos.
Buffalo Airways Leases P-3A Firebomber to Airstrike – April 30, 2020
Buffalo Airways acquired former Aero Union P-3A N922AU #22 in 2014 and ferried it from McClellan Airport, California to Keystone Airpark, Florida for safe keeping. The goal was to recertify the aircraft as an airtanker and get it on a U.S. or Canadian firefighting contract. I photographed the aircraft at Keystone in April 2015 shortly after it arrived while it was still wearing full Aero Union colors and titles. By 2017 a Buffalo green accent stripe and titles had been added and, as reported on February 10, 2019, the aircraft departed Keystone Airpark in 2018 for McClellan, where Airstrike Firefighters would perform the federally mandated P-3A structural integrity inspection program.
The inspection was successfully completed and Mikey McBryan reported today on Facebook that N922AU was on lease to Airstrike and would be joining their P-3A N923AU #23 on a California state firefighting contract. "I’m super excited to see our P-3 Tanker 22 freshly painted and ready to fight fire out of California this year! It has been leased to AirStrike and will be operated alongside her sister ship Tanker 23 (owned by AirStrike)." Kudos to Airstrike and Buffalo for resurrecting these great aircraft. The P-3A is a great firefighting aircraft and hopefully the feds will see the light and allow USFS contracts.
Brooks Fuel Auction Update – April 21, 2020
As reported on March 27th and April 11th the State of Alaska evicted Brooks Fuel from its facility at Fairbanks International Airport (FAI) and hired 1st Strike Asset Management to clean up the facility. An on-line auction was recently completed with three DC-4 hulks, a nearly complete DC-4, aircraft engines and a multitude of parts and equipment being offered. While the DC-4 hulks will most likely be scrapped with the fuselages possibly being hauled off to become someone’s storage shed, DC-4 N51802 was nearly complete and was acquired by DC-4 operator Alaska Air Fuel at the auction. At this time, it’s not known if the aircraft will harvested for its parts or made airworthy and flown to the company’s headquarters at Wasilla Airport. Also of interest, DC-4 N438NA and DC-7C N90251 were recently noted safely parked outside the Everts North Hangar at the airport and were not part of the auction. It will be interesting to see what happens to these airplanes. Photos of the three aircraft are from June 2011.
Brooks Fuel Property Auction Closes – April 11, 2020
As reported on March 27, 2020, 1st Strike Asset Management has been contracted by the State of Alaska to clean up the Brooks Fuel yard at Fairbanks International Airport prior to the state undertaking an environmental cleanup. The online auction (Lot 617 and Lot 618) was closed yesterday and included three DC-4 hulks (N67018, N99212, N90201); one nearly complete DC-4 (N51802); R2000, R3350 and R4360 engines; multiple pallets of hardware, tools and equipment; and an aircraft tug. There were lots of bids submitted for each of the pallets, 16 bids for N51802 and surprisingly two or three bids for each hulk. With the exception of the four aircraft, all items must be removed from the property no later than 5:00pm on April 16, when payment is due. The aircraft must be removed no later than May 8, 2020. For sure, it's the end of an era and I wish the state luck in their environmental cleanup!
State Cleaning Up Brooks Fuel Yard at Fairbanks Airport – March 27, 2020
The State of Alaska has apparently lost patience with the slow pace of cleanup at the Brooks Fuel yard at Fairbanks International Airport and has taken the lead on the effort. Levi Ballard reported on a Facebook post yesterday that: “The company I work for is selling four C-54s/DC-4s. The N-numbers are N51802, N67018, N99212, and N90201. These airplanes formerly belonged to Brooks Fuel here in Fairbanks, Alaska. An online auction is currently underway. We just started it yesterday, but there is a short amount of time to get the planes out of the yard. The State of Alaska has to do an environmental cleanup on the site. The aircraft belong to the State of Alaska. I don't know any of the details. All I know is that the company I work has been contracted to clean the yard up. I do know that Mr. Brooks was working on cleaning it up himself until about November.”
As for DC-7C N90201 and DC-4 N438NA, Levi reports: “At least one plane was towed down the runway to be stored at Evert's. Whether it was sold, or they are storing it for Mr. Brooks, I do not know. One of the Beech 18s ended up on Davis Road at a hostel towards the west end.”
While it saddens me, I’m not surprised to hear about this latest development. When I visited Fairbanks in May 2019 I had the opportunity to check out the yard from both the street and airside perspectives. Other than DC-4s N3054V and N96358, which were sold to Alaska Air Fuel in 2013, it appeared that the yard’s aircraft population was the same as when Brooks ceased operations in 2011 (see list below). As reported on October 30, 2019, DC-3 N95460 departed on October 29, 2019 and was observed being towed along the highway to nearby Chena Marina Airport. Hopefully for the time being the DC-7C and N438NA are safe, but prospects for the four remaining DC-4s appear dim. My guess is that they will most likely be scrapped.
Brooks Fuel – June 27, 2011
DC-4/C-54E – N96358 – sold to Alaska Air Fuel 2013
DC-4/C-54Q – N3054V – sold to Alaska Air Fuel 2013
DC-4/C-54G - N438NA – former NASA, stored in good condition
DC-4/C-54G – N51802 – stored in good condition
DC-4/C-54Q – N67018 – stored with faded USMC markings
DC-4/C-54D – N90201 – stored
DC-4/C-54D – N99212 – stored
DC-3 – N95460 – moved to Chena Marina Airport in October 2019
Beech C-45G – N114V – stored
Beech E18-S – N326W - stored
DC-7C – N90251 – stored
Everts DC-6B Delivery to Museum Delayed – March 15, 2020
As reported on September 16, 2019, Everts DC-6B N151 has been acquired by the Museum of Aviation History at Sola Airport in Stavanger, Norway. The delivery flight had been planned for late March 2020 but, with Norway essentially shutting its borders due to the worldwide corona virus pandemic, the flight has been postponed.
Bush Air Cargo DC-3 Back in Action - January 6, 2020
It's old news but Bush Air Cargo DC-3 N59314 is back flying again. As reported on August 2, 2019, the aircraft was damaged after encountering a downdraft on short final at Kenai Municipal Airport in Alaska on August 1, 2019. Owner Bart Tiernan recently told me that the minor tail wheel damage suffered during the incident has been repaired and the veteran cargo hauler is back in operation.
Buffalo Airways DC-4 Fleet Advertised for Sale – December 28, 2019
If you’re in the market for a DC-4, Buffalo Joe McBryan might have a deal for you. The entire fleet, consisting of eleven aircraft, is currently advertised for sale on the Buffalo Airways website. The aircraft conditions range from parts aircraft to near-airworthy. CF-BAA #12 has been stored for many years in Yellowknife and is listed as a parts aircraft and N55CW #16 is currently stored at Keystone Heights Airport in Florida. The remaining aircraft are stored in Hay River, NWT. (Note: While C-GBNV #56 was recently noted in Red Deer, the website states that it is stored in Hay River.)
It sure would be nice for one or two of these aircraft to find a home at a museum or even perhaps flying fuel in Alaska!
Contact Joe McBryan at:
1.867.873.6112 or (fax) 1.867.873.8393
TSB Issues Report on Buffalo Airways DC-3 Forced Landing - December 23, 2019
The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada released Report A19W0052 on December 20, 2019 re the May 3, 2019 forced landing of Buffalo Airways DC-3 C-GJKM about 6.5 miles south of the airport in Hay River, NWT. The report was described by the TSB as “limited scope.” Here’s a summary of the board’s findings.
1. The left engine malfunctioned shortly after departure from Hay River and was shut down.
2. The crew was unable to totally complete their checklists, including the landing briefing
3. Due to an apparent miscommunication between the pilot and co-pilot, the co-pilot prematurely extended the landing gear.
4. With the landing gear extended, the crew was unable to maintain airspeed/altitude and a forced landing was made.
5. Both the pilot and co-pilot were qualified to and certified to fly the DC-3.
6. The aircraft was operating within maximum gross weight limits.
7. The TSB did not investigate the cause of the engine failure.
8. Buffalo Airways standard operating procedures were in accordance with the DC-3’s operating manual.
9. The report concludes with the following Safety Message...”In this occurrence, the aircraft’s airspeed and altitude could not be maintained, primarily because of the increased drag when the landing gear was extended early in the approach. This highlights the need to follow SOPs and use standard phraseology, as well as the importance of checklist discipline, during an emergency.”
The aircraft was spotted being transported by road through Manning, Alberta on July 15, 2019 and noted in Buffalo’s hangar in Red Deer, Alberta on September 4, 2019. Hopefully it can be repaired and returned to service.
DC-3 Takes Road Trip Down Fairbanks Highway - October 30, 2019
Former Brooks Air Fuel DC-3 N95460 was photographed on October 29, 2019 being towed down a Fairbanks highway to parts unknown. The aircraft had been stored for many years at Brooks Air Fuel, where I photographed it in May 2019. While not confirmed, it's been reported that the DC-3 was being towed to nearby Chena Marina Airport.
Alaskan DC-3 Heading South for the Winter - October 26, 2019
Co-owner Nico Von Pronay recently reported on Facebook that DC-3 N763NA will be flying south for the winter. The DC-3, which had been parked in Marathon, Florida for many years, was acquired by Nico and a partner in 2016 and flown to Anchorage, Alaska in 2017. It had done very little flying since arriving and was parked on the Desert Air ramp during my May 2019 visit to Anchorage. With help from Desert Air owner Joey Benetka, the DC-3 was recently made airworthy and successfully completed a test flight on October 12, 2019. It departed about a week later and was in Missoula, Montana on October 26th. Nico also stated that they plan to return the DC-3 to Alaska and offer flightseeing trips and flight instruction.
Two Former Buffalo DC-3s Arrive in Oshkosh by Road - October 25, 2019 (October 31, 2019 Update)
As reported on April 14, 2019, Buffalo Airways has sold an additional four non-flying DC-3s to Basler Turbo Conversions. CF-YQG/N856RB arrived at Basler in late August still wearing faded Nunsani Central titles. CF-JWP/N856YB arrived in late September still wearing Gateway Aviation titles. Both had been stored for quite a few years at Buffalo’s maintenance base in Red Deer, Alberta. I haven’t seen any recent reports on the other two aircraft, C-FDTB/N856KB and C-FFAY/N856QB. Does anyone have the current status on these two aircraft? UPDATE: RUUD LEEUW TRAVELED TO RED DEER IN OCTOBER 2019 AND PHOTOGRAPHED BOTH C-FDTB AND C-FFAY AT THE AIRPORT.
Everts Air Cargo DC-6B Going to Norwegian Museum – September 16, 2019 (February 5, 2020 Update)
Everts Air Cargo DC-6B N151 is nearing the end of its service life and has been acquired by The Museum of Aviation History at Sola Airport in Stavanger, Norway. N151 flew for the Norwegian airline Braathens-SAFE as LN-SUB in the 1960’s and will be put on static display at the museum in period Braathens-SAFE colors. The aircraft is being retired by Everts Air Cargo because the airline operates in accordance with 14 CFR Part 121, which requires inspections at regular airframe time intervals. During its tenure with Everts, the aircraft has undergone regular A-,B- and C-Checks but it's approaching a very extensive and expensive D-Check. The last Alaskan operator to perform a D-Check on a DC-6 was Northern Air Cargo about 15-20 years ago and it cost in excess of $1M. Normal operation procedure since then has been to retire a DC-6 approaching a D-check or convert it to a fuel hauler, which operate under 14 CFR Part 125. Everts Air Fuel aircraft are meticulously maintained but are not required to undergo D-checks, which require the aircraft to be almost completely disassembled.
The DC-6B will be flown to Norway by an Everts crew in late October or early November. Everts is gathering historical information and images of the aircraft for a presentation that is being put together. If you have anything you'd like to contribute, email Karen Wing at Everts. Stay tuned for updates. UPDATE: KAREN WING ANNOUNCED THAT N151 WAS UNDERGOING ITS FINAL C-CHECK WITH EVERTS. ITS REMAINING PART 121 HOURS WILL BE FLOWN DOWN LEAVING ENOUGH FOR THE FLIGHT TO NORWAY, WHICH IS EXPECTED IN APRIL 2020. KAREN THANKS ALL THOSE WHO SUBMITTED INFORMATION AND PHOTOS ABOUT THE AIRCRAFT.
Everts Air Cargo DC-6 Involved in Landing Accident at Candle, Alaska – August 2, 2019
Everts Air Cargo C-118B N451CE is a probable write-off after it struck a berm while on final approach to the airport at Candle, Alaska on August 1, 2019. The aircraft was operating as Flight VTS-24 from Fairbanks to Candle and the good news is that none of the three crewmembers onboard were injured. The landing gear and engines were damaged and the aircraft came to rest turned around. For more information, check out the Aviation Safety Network website.
DC-3 N59314 Damaged in Landing Incident at Kenai, Alaska – August 2, 2019 (August 3, 2019 Update)
DC-3 N59314 was damaged on August 1, 2019 after encountering a downdraft on short final at Kenai Municipal Airport in Alaska. The subsequent hard landing resulted in fuselage and tailwheel damage. The aircraft is owned by Bart Tiernan and no injuries were reported. At this time, the extent of damage is not known. For more information and updates, check out the Aviation Safety Network website. Good news....owner Bart Tiernan reports that the damage was relatively minor and the aircraft should be back in operation in about ten days.
Air Spray Electra Emergency Landing – July 8, 2019
Air Spray Tanker #490 C-GZCF made an emergency landing on June 22, 2019 at Red Deer Airport in Alberta, Canada after experiencing landing gear problems. None of the four crewmembers were injured and the 3,000 fire retardant tank and right side props/engines seemed to have taken the major brunt of the forced landing. From video of the landing and post-crash photos, it appears that the nose and right main gear failed to retract.
The incident appears very similar to the gear-up landing of Buffalo Electra C-FBAQ at Yellowknife on March 5, 2012. That aircraft was repaired and is currently active with Buffalo as firebomber #417. Hopefully #490 can be quickly repaired and put back into service.
Mikey and the "Plane Savers" Team Do It – “DTD” Flies Again! – June 6, 2019 (Updated June 7, 2019)
Mikey McBryan with the help of family, friends and volunteers accomplished what many skeptics considered impossible when DC-3 C-FDTD flew for the first time in over 30 years on June 6, 2019. Work began on restoring aircraft, which had been parked at the Saint-Hubert Longueuil Airport near Montreal since the early 1990’s, on April 11, 2019. In less than two months, a small group of volunteers transformed a near-derelict shell of an aircraft into one capable of taking to the air. Mikey’s dad Buffalo Joe arrived a few days ago and was at the controls of the airplane during today’s one hour flight, where he thrilled the large crowd with a flyby and touch-and-go landing before ending the flight with a perfect landing. Mikey documented the day's events and the flight in an emotional 43 minute final YouTube episode of Planesavers. Mark Brandon also captured the day's events and posted a very nice 17 minute video on YouTube . Benoit de Mulder generously shared the following photos and reported that the aircraft departed for Thunder Bay the next day on the 7th of June. I'm looking forward to seeing her in July at AirVenture 2019.
Congratulations to Mikey, Uncle Ronnie, Stella and the rest of the loyal volunteers who worked long and hard to make this near impossible transformation happen! For more information about the project, check out my May 8th and February 10th reports along with Kenneth Swartz's comprehensive article that was published today on the skiesmag.com website.
Former Everts DC-6s Scattered Around the Fairbanks Area – May 25, 2019
Not all DC-6s and C-118s retired by Everts wind up in their famous Fairbanks boneyard. Over the years a number have been donated or sold to individuals and organizations and can still be found in and around the Fairbanks area. In addition to DC-6 N4390X, which is used by emergency first responders at Fairbanks Intl Airport for training and DC-6A N6174C at Chena Hot Springs Resort, I have located the following aircraft.
DC-6 N666SQ was donated to the Vietnam Veterans Motorcycle Club in 2009. It was disassembled and moved to a location on Bennett Road near Fairbanks in July 2009. After a few years at this location, it was moved to a new location in North Pole, AK where it sits today. The lot was obviously cleared to accommodate the aircraft but it appears, for all intents and purposes, abandoned with the wings and other pieces haphazardly lying on the soggy ground. Everts tried really hard to find a museum home for this now rare "baby" DC-6 but none were interested. It appeared that a happy ending had been achieved when the motorcycle club wanted to use it for its clubhouse but this has proved to not to be the case with the aircraft rotting in place 10 years later. It can be located by plugging 2436 Sunflower Loop, North Pole, AK into your GPS.
DC-6A N12347 sits alongside Old Steese Highway a few miles outside of Fairbanks. Its outer wings have been removed and it is located in what appears to be a storage area for some sort of business. I remember folks talking about it during my first visit to Alaska in 2005 while on an Ian Allan tour so it’s been there for at least 14 years and probably longer. Fairbanks is expanding with more and more houses being built in the area. I wonder how long it will be before one of the new homeowners complains about the "eyesore" along the side of the road! It can be located by plugging 1380 Little Fox Trail, Fairbanks, AK into your GPS.
The forward fuselage of DC-6B N999SQ “The Lucky Duck” sits atop the Pike’s Aviation Greenhouse & Sweets shop on Airport Way near the airport. The shop is part of the Pike’s Waterfront Lodge but I’ve never seen it open. “Capt Cliff E & Rob" is inscribed below the copilot’s window in obvious reference to Cliff and Rob Everts.
While the forward fuselage of DC-6B N28CA is still owned by Everts, I thought it deserved mention. It is used as an aircrew procedures trainer by Everts and is mounted on the outside wall of their second floor training room overlooking the engine shop. While it is not a flight simulator, it provides pilots valuable training in cockpit procedures before they move on to the actual aircraft.
C-119 Engine Runs at Palmer Airport – May 18, 2019
John Reffett woke up C-119F N8501W today at Palmer Municipal Airport. After pre-oiling the engines the previous day, final checks were made and both engines were successfully run. The small group that had gathered was rewarded with lots of satisfying smoke and noise during the 20 minute engine test. As most readers probably know, John has been working on the aircraft for a number of years and she is just about ready to fly. Good luck to John, Junior, Dave and Rob in their quest to make this happen!
Former Everts DC-6 Lingers on at Fairbanks Airport’s Fire Practice Area – May 14, 2019
Thanks to the very accommodating folks at Fairbanks Airport Ops, I was able to photograph former Everts DC-6 N4390X at the airport’s fire and emergency training area. While the aircraft was essentially intact, it was missing engines and had what I incorrectly assumed were bullet holes in the right rear fuselage. Dietmar Schreiber recently informed me that the holes were created by a special lance that pierces the fuselage and sprays fire retardant inside the aircraft. Although it is used for emergency training, there was no evidence of fire damage so hopefully it will survive for a few more years. In addition, there was a very beat up Beech 18 fuselage located adjacent to the DC-6. It was full of holes and was pretty torn up. I was not able to identify it and would appreciate it very much if someone could email me the identity of this forlorn aircraft.
Former Conair Tanker #46 Ready to Enter Service with Everts Air Fuel – May 13, 2019
I noted former Conair DC-6A C-GHLY #46 parked outside Everts North Hangar in basic Conair colors with EAC titles on the tail. This aircraft was one of three Conair DC-6s acquired by Everts a few years back and was initially registered N501ZS for the ferry flight from Abbotsford, BC. While it doesn't carry any registration markings, it was recently re-registered N651CE and appears to be ready to enter service hauling fuel for Everts.
Everts Air Fuel C-46 “Dumbo” Gets a Makeover – May 13, 2019
Everts Air Fuel C-46M N7848B “Dumbo” had been wearing a rather well-worn traditional Everts color scheme for quite a few years. That has all changed with the aircraft getting a complete cosmetic makeover. The C-46 was basking in the sun in front of Everts North Hangar during my May 13th visit wearing a polished aluminum look with red Everts and “Dumbo” titles.
Everts Air Fuel C-46 “Salmon Ella” Gets New Nose – May 13, 2019
In a testament to how much Rob Everts values the C-46, C-46F N1822M “Salmon Ella” recently received a “nose transplant. I visited the Everts North Hangar at Fairbanks on May 13th where the work was underway on returning the aircraft to service. The vintage aircraft was damaged when it over-ran the runway at Manley Hot Springs on July 16, 2018 after experiencing a problem with its #2 engine. The aircraft needed another 100 feet of runway that it didn’t have an nosed over at a low speed. The nose section was severely damaged but both pilots were uninjured. N1822M was barged to Fairbanks where the repair is taking place. While the nose has been transplanted, there’s still a fair amount of work to be done fitting control cables, outfitting the cockpit etc. It’s great to see that this airplane was saved and will be re-entering service in the not too distant future. See my February 10, 2019 report for additional information about the incident.
Former Everts DC-6A on Display at Chena Hot Springs Resort – May 12, 2019
When Everts Air Cargo retired DC-6A N6174C “Good Grief” in 2016, the most likely destination was the Everts boneyard in Fairbanks. This was not to be and, with Rob Everts at the controls, the aircraft made its final flight from Anchorage to the small dirt airstrip at Chena Hot Springs Resort on October 2, 2016. During its 62 year flying career, the aircraft flew for no less than eight airlines and amassed a bit over 56,000 hours. After arriving, the DC-6 was hoisted about 50 feet into the air and set on three large pylons. I visited the resort on May 12th and I can attest that the aircraft makes quite a statement sitting on those pylons. I asked what the plans were for the aircraft but no one seemed to know. Two theories are a zip line with the second being a cocktail lounge. If it’s going to be a cocktail lounge, I would suggest an elevator!
"Plane Savers" Project Achieves Major Milestone – May 8, 2019
The “Plane Savers” project to restore a near-derelict C-47 achieved a major milestone yesterday when the engines on C-FDTD were run for the first time. The vintage airplane had been parked at Saint-Hubert Longueuil Airport near Montreal since the early 1990’s and its future was not looking good. When Mikey McBryan first heard about the aircraft and its D-Day history, he decided it needed to be saved and launched the "Plane Savers" project. Mikey enlisted the help of his Uncle Ronnie and, after more than three months of preparation, work began on April 11th. Led by Uncle Ronnie, volunteers have been showing up every day to work on the airplane, which has slowly come back to life. Ecole Nationale d'Aérotechnique (ENA) is a large aviation tech training school located on the field and they have provided invaluable support to the project, including use of their hangar on numerous occasions. Mikey has been posting daily "Plane Savers" videos on YouTube and Episode 126 documents the engine runs. Check out the photos of what the airplane looked like at the start of the project. Benoit de Mulder also posted some photos and videos from yesterday’s event on Facebook. Congratulations to Mikey, Ronnie and all the volunteers for their remarkable achievement. I'm looking forward to the first post-restoration flight on June 6th.
Gimli C-46 Update – May 5, 2019
On April 22nd I asked if anyone knew what the latest status of C-46F C-GIBX, which has been stored in Gimli, Manitoba for the past ten years. I recently received word that the wings had been pulled for the corrosion inspection and there is a possibility of it operating for a mining firm under TransNorthern Aviation’s AOC. Hopefully this comes to fruition and this vintage Propliner gets back to earning money for its owner.
Buffalo DC-3 Lost After Engine Failure – May 4, 2019
Buffalo Airways DC-3 C-GJKM made an off-airport landing on May 3, 2019 after experiencing an engine failure while enroute from Hay River to Yellowknife. The aircraft departed Hay River on a scheduled flight at about 8am and was 20 minutes into the 55 minute flight when the #2 engine failed. The pilots attempted to return to Hay River but were forced to set the airplane down about 5 miles from the airport. The Aviation Safety Network posted a preliminary report on the incident. I will post additional information as it becomes available.
Does Anyone Know the Current Status of Gimli C-46F? – April 22, 2019
Does anyone have the latest status on former First Nations Transportation C-46F C-GIBX, which has been stored in Gimli, Manitoba since the airline ceased operations in 2009? A few years back I heard that Buffalo Airways wasn't interested in the airplane but haven't heard anything since. The aircraft looked to be in good condition when John Olafson photographed her in September 2016. I'd appreciate an email if anyone has the aircraft's latest status. Hopefully she won't be allowed to rot in place. (Update: The aircraft was photographed at Gimli on August 30, 2018 and appeared to be in good condition.)
Red Deer Regional Airport Propliner Treasure Trove – April 18, 2019
Red Deer Regional Airport in Alberta, Canada is located about eighty miles north of Calgary and is home to a large collection of vintage Propliners, both active and stored. Air Spray’s headquarters and maintenance base are located at the airport as well as Buffalo Airways’ maintenance base. Both airlines store aircraft on the field and this news piece will focus on those aircraft. While I have visited the airport three times in the past 15 years, this report is based on airfield tour by Joe and Mikey McBryan on YouTube Plane Savers Episodes #77 and #78. While the list isn’t meant to be all-inclusive, it gives you a good idea what’s stored at the airport.
Buffalo Airways L188A Electra C-GLBA - in Buffalo colors
Buffalo Airways L188A Electra C-FIJV - former N9744C in Reeve Aleutian colors
Buffalo Airways L188C Electra C-GIZU - former G-FIZU in Atlantic Airlines colors
Buffalo Airways DC-4 C-GBNV #56 - converted from fire bomber to dispersant sprayer in full Buffalo colors
Buffalo Airways T-29B/CV240 C-GTFC - in faded Trans Fair colors
Buffalo Airways DST/DC-3 CF-VQV - rare Douglas DST
Buffalo Airways DC-3 CF-YQG - in faded Nunasi Central colors - sold to Basler Turbo Conversions in September 2018 as N856RB
Buffalo Airways DC-3 CF-JWP - in Gateway Aviation colors - sold to Basler Turbo Conversions in September 2018 as N856YB
Buffalo Airways DC-3 C-FFAY - sold to Basler Turbo Conversions in September 2018 as N856QB
Buffalo Airways DC-3 C-FDTB - sold to Basler Turbo Conversions in September 2018 as N856KB
Buffalo Airways DC-3 C-FBAE - former C-FDTH (see underwing markings)
Buffalo Airways DC-3 C-GWZS - temporarily stored in full Buffalo colors
Buffalo Airways C-47 C-FROD/RCAF 12927) - original military C-47 configuration in RCAF Training Command colors
Air Spray L188A Electra C-GOIZ - former N343HA in Zantop colors
Air Spray L188A Electra C-GZYH - former HR-AMM stored since 2002
Air Spray L188A Electra C-FVFI - stored since 2003 - swapped tail section with C-FLXT
Air Spray L188A Electra C-GYVI #83 - stored since 2012 when wing corrosion found
Air Spray L188A Electra C-GNPB - former Honduran Air Force 555FAH stored since 2011
Mikey McBryan indicated in the YouTube video that three former Air Spray A-26's remain at Red Deer
While he mentioned that they had been bought by a West Jet pilot, they are still registered to Air Spray
I was only able confirm from the video that A-26B's C-GHZM #58 "Fire Eaters" and C-FKBM #20 were present
During my September 2014 visit to Red Deer, A-26's C-FZTC #13 and C-FPGF #1 were also present
These aircraft are also currently registered to Air Spray
Please email me if you can confirm whether one or both of these aircraft are still at Red Deer
Mikey also said in an earlier episode of Plane Savers that there were four CL-215's stored at Red Deer.
Basler on Canadian DC-3 Buying Spree – April 14, 2019
Basler Turbo Conversions has been on a buying spree at Buffalo Airways, picking up no less than five DC-3 airframes in the past year. Buffalo has been a reliable source of airframes with the company previously selling former Boreal C-FQBC and former First Nations Transportation CF-FTR to Basler. Both were made airworthy for ferry flights to Oshkosh with C-FQBC being re-registered N960BT and making the flight in November 2015. CF-FTR followed in 2016 and was re-registered N144WC. A second former Boreal Aviation DC-3 C-GCXD was trucked to Oshkosh in September 2018 and re-registered N856LT.
As noted by Joe McBryan in Plane Savers Episode #77, four additional airframes have been sold to Basler but have yet to be delivered and are still at Red Deer. These include CF-YQG, which has been re-registered N856RB; CF-JWP, which has been re-registered N856YB; C-FFAY, which has been re-registered N856QB; and C-FDTB, which has been re-registered N856KB. I have confirmed the U.S. registrations on the FAA Registry. Components from C-FDTB are being used for the resurrection of DC-3 C-FDTD, which Mikey McBryan is resurrecting for a D-Day flight in Montreal. Joe also mentioned that DST CF-VQV had not been sold to Basler.
Desert Air Alaska Changes Ownership – March 1, 2019 (April 4, 2019 Update)
Joey Benetka recently announced that he had purchased Desert Air Alaska from longtime operator Dennis Gladwin. Desert Air is based at Anchorage International Airport and the airline owns two DC-3s and a T-29B/CV240. While the two DC-3s have been very active during my Alaska visits, I've never seen the Convair in action. When I was in Anchorage four years ago, the Convair was in excellent condition and I was told that it could be made airworthy quickly if demand warranted. The company’s website states “We fly freight to over 200 locations in Alaska. We can get your cargo to where it needs to be. Desert Air Alaska is a charter freight service offering large haul capacity to rural runways and remote sites. Smooth, direct and reliable - we have a host of services like HAZMAT and oversize freight accommodation with no extra handling fees.” For more information about Desert Air, check out the company website. I wish Joey luck and hope to meet him when I visit Alaska in May.
Joey announced on March 21st that the Convair and associated spare parts were for sale. This is not unexpected since I don't believe it has flown much, if any, in the past years.
Buffalo DC-3 Put Out to Pasture – February 26, 2019
Joe Mooney recently reported on Facebook that Mikey McBryan told him that Buffalo Airways DC-3 C-GWIR had been moved to his Uncle Ronnie McBryan’s farm for storage. This aircraft was severely damaged on August 19, 2013 after the #2 engine caught fire shortly after takeoff from Yellowknife Airport with 21 passengers onboard. The engine was shut down and during the ensuing emergency landing the aircraft struck a stand of trees before making a gear-up landing in a field short of runway 10. There was no post-impact fire and none of the passengers or three crew members were injured. When I visited Buffalo a year later the aircraft was stored in the corner of the Yellowknife hangar. Recent video from Mikey McBryan’s Plane Savers YouTube videos showed no sign of the aircraft in the hangar so I thank Joe for solving the mystery of the whereabouts of the C-GWIR.
Alaska Loses an Aviation Icon – February 10, 2019
Everts family patriarch Cliff Everts passed away on December 7, 2017 at age 95 in his Fairbanks, Alaska home. Born on July 27, 1922 in Yonkers, New York, Cliff learned how to fly at Reynolds Field in Valhalla, New York, where he soloed in 1938 at the age of 16. He moved to Alaska in 1943 to fly Ford and Stinson tri-motor aircraft for Alaska Star Airlines, where he worked for 18 months before joining
Wein Alaskan Airways in February 1945. He began his career at Wein flying Boeing 247 and Lockheed Lodestar aircraft and retired 35 years later flying Fokker F-27’s. After retirement from Wein, he founded Everts Air Fuel, which received its Part 125 operating certificate on February 1, 1983.
I had the pleasure of spending some time with Cliff during a visit to Everts’ Fairbanks headquarters in August 2009. At the time he was 87 years old and still checked in at Everts headquarters on most days. His wife Betty was also still very much involved in the company as she was her son Rob’s secretary! Cliff gave me a tour of his office, which was full of mementos from his 66 year aviation career, including the original framed Everts Air Fuel Part 125 certificate. During his flying career, Cliff amassed 30,000 flying hours and was inducted into the Alaska Aviation Hall of Fame in 2013.
Cliff was survived by his wife Betty, five daughters and son Rob, who followed him into the family business. The Everts family has been very accommodating to the enthusiast community over the years, offering tours of its Fairbanks headquarters, the Anchorage freight terminal and the Kenai fuel operation. While there has been a slow evolution to jet equipment in the form of DC-9 and MD-83 freighters, Everts is still the largest operator of piston engine aircraft in the world with a fair amount of the company’s freight and all of the fuel still carried in vintage DC-6/C-118 and C-46 aircraft. While it’s obviously now a bit dated, more information about this fascinating company can be found in my February 2010 Air Classics article.
Everts Boneyard Reorganization – February 10, 2019
With Everts continuing to buy DC-6 and C-118 aircraft, the company’s storage yard in Fairbanks had reached capacity with overflow aircraft being parked outside its north hangar. In an effort to alleviate the problem, Everts began cutting the outer wings and tails off DC-6/C-118 aircraft and, by the winter of 2017, had arranged seven aircraft along the fence line making for a very nice photo op for passing motorists and aviation enthusiasts.
The lineup consists of six former Northern Air Cargo aircraft, which had been sold to Everts in 2009 after the airline went all jet in October 2008, and a single former Conifair DC-6A. Stripped of their useful components, the aircraft silently wait for the scrapman to claim them.
Former Universal Airlines DC-6A Ferried to Fairbanks – February 10, 2019
When Everts acquired former Universal Airlines DC-6A N170UA and C-118A N500UA in October 2015, the later aircraft was made airworthy in short order and ferried from Kenai to Everts’ maintenance base in Fairbanks for storage. While N500UA had flown as recently as the summer of 2011, N170UA hadn’t flown for many years and took quite a bit longer to get ready for the relatively short ferry flight to Fairbanks. The DC-6A was parked on the Everts Air Fuel ramp in Kenai for a number of years before finally being ferried to Fairbanks, where it was noted in June 2018. I’m guessing it will be used as a parts airplane and has already shed at least two propellers.
Everts Converts Former Conair DC-6A to Fuel Tanker – February 10, 2019
Everts acquired three retired Conair DC-6 type aircraft in November 2013 and ferried them from Abbotsford to the company’s maintenance base in Fairbanks. Former C-GHLY/#46 was registered N501ZS and was the last of the trio to be ferried to Fairbanks, where it arrived on August 10, 2014. Engines had already been removed from one of the trio when I visited Fairbanks in May 2015 so I surmised that it wouldn’t be long before all three were stripped of their valuable parts. I was pleasantly surprised when I received a report saying that the airplane was being converted to a fuel tanker and would be going into service with Everts Air Fuel. A June 2018 photo of the aircraft shows it in basic Conair colors with “EAF” titles on the tail. This hybrid color scheme is a first for an Everts airplane.
Everts C-46 Damaged at Manley Hot Springs – February 10, 2019
While on a routine flight from Fairbanks to Kenai on July 16, 2018 Everts Air Fuel C-46F N1822M “Salmon Ella” experienced a problem with its #2 engine. Following a precautionary engine shutdown, the aircraft diverted to Manley Hot Springs Airport where a downwind landing was executed. The pilot reported that the aircraft touched down a “little fast” and, with fading brakes from hard braking, it was unable to stop and overran the runway. The nose was heavily damaging but luckily neither pilot was injured.
A week later, with the outer wings and tail removed, the aircraft was transported by road to the Tanana River and barged to Fairbanks. The aircraft will receive a new nose section and returned to service.
Former Everts C-46F N23AC on Display at Israeli Museum – February 10, 2019
Former Everts C-46F N23AC arrived by ship at the Port of Haifa in Israel on February 21, 2017. The aircraft had been stored for many years at the Everts Fairbanks boneyard and, after arriving in Israel, it was transported by road to the Atlift Detention Camp Museum.
C-46’s were used in 1947 during the illegal “aliya” that brought thousands of Iraqi Jewish refugees to what was then the British Mandate for Palestine. Jewish refugees seeking to immigrate were detained by the British at the Atlift Detention Camp during this period. The aircraft will serve as an interactive exhibit to educate the Israeli people about this clandestine operation.
Buffalo P-3A to McClellan for Inspection – February 10, 2019
Buffalo acquired P-3A N922AU #22 in March 2014 and until recently it had been parked at Keystone Heights Airport in Florida. It departed for Sacramento, California on February 6, 2018, where it is currently undergoing the federally mandated structural integrity inspection program for P-3A firebombers. The work is being performed by Airstrike Firefighters, who recently completed the same inspection on P-3A N923AU. Buffalo hopes to find firefighting work for the aircraft in the U.S. and ultimately in Canada, which currently prohibits the use of former military aircraft as firebombers. This is quite interesting since the P-3A is very similar to the Electra, which is the Canadian government’s aircraft of choice for aerial firefighting. Go figure!
Former Everts DC-6A Hoisted onto Pylons – February 10, 2019
After being retired by Everts Air Cargo, DC-6A N6174C “Good Grief” was flown to the small airport at Chena Hot Springs by Rob Everts for conversion to a restaurant. The aircraft’s arrival on October 2, 2016 was quite dramatic, with not much room to spare. In early August 2018 the aircraft was lifted onto what looks like twenty foot pilings, where it will be permanently mounted. I plan on visiting Alaska in May 2019 and Chena Hots Springs Airport is definitely on my list of places to visit.
Buffalo Airways to Restore near-Derelict DC-3 – February 10, 2019
Bernoit de Mulder acquired D-Day veteran DC-3 C-FDTD in April 2017 with the intent of restoring it. The vintage airplane had been parked at Saint-Hubert Longueuil Airport near Montreal since the early 1990’s and was in danger of being scrapped. Despite his efforts and the efforts of many volunteers, Bernoit was unable to garner the resources necessary to resurrect the DC-3 and two weeks before Christmas 2018 he placed an ad on eBay. Three days later he received a call from Mikey and Joe McBryan of Buffalo Airways fame saying they were interested in the aircraft. A short time later a purchase deal was finalized.
Recognizing the historical significance of the aircraft, the McBryan’s are determined to have it flying by June 6, 2019, which is the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Considering the condition of the aircraft and its location, this is a very ambitious undertaking but who, with decades of DC-3 experience, would be better suited to pull it off than the McBryan family.
Not wasting any time, Mikey headed to Buffalo’s maintenance base in Red Deer, Alberta on December 31st to meet with his uncle Ronnie McBryan and have a look at the two parts donor aircraft, C-FDTB and C-FDTH. Like C-FDTD, both are former Transport Canada aircraft with C-FDTB’s engine firewall and wiring harness configuration identical to the Saint-Hubert DC-3. It’s interesting to note that C-FDTB has a full 1940/50s era 3-across passenger interior from its days with Trans-Canada Air Lines. It has been sold to Basler for their turboprop conversion program and all of this history will be stripped out during the conversion. C-FDTH was damaged during a windstorm and, at this point, is best suited to being a parts donor.
Mikey and Ronnie airlined to Montreal and got their first look at C-FDTD on January 3rd. Their plan is to take inventory on exactly what is required for the restoration, gather the parts and pieces in Red Deer and then transport them to Saint-Hubert, where the restoration will take place. This would be an extremely ambitious project under the best of circumstances and I wish them luck.
You can check out the latest project status on Mikey McBryan’s Plane Savers YouTube videos and the Plane Savers website.
C-46 C-GTPO Enters Service with Buffalo Airways – February 10, 2019
C-46F C-GTPO entered service with Buffalo Airways on January 16, 2018 after receiving an extensive overhaul at Buffalo’s hangar in Yellowknife, NWT. C-GTPO replaced C-46A C-GTXW, which had been written off after a September 2015 landing accident in Déline, NWT. Fortunately the crew emerged unscathed but Buffalo desperately needed to replace this workhorse aircraft. C-GTPO had a previous history with Buffalo, having flown for the airline between 1993 and 2004, before being sold to First Nations Transportation (FNT). Abandoned at Gimli after the 2009 demise of FNT, the aircraft was made airworthy by a Buffalo crew and ferried to Yellowknife in November 2010.
After returning to Yellowknife, the engines were removed from C-FTPO and it was parked behind Buffalo’s hangar to await its return to service. It would be almost five years before the C-46 was towed into the hangar in September 2015 to begin what would be a lengthy resurrection. During the next three years the aircraft received an extensive overhaul including new engines, a cockpit makeover and a modified paint scheme, which featured a bright orange tail. Having operated C-46’s for years, Buffalo had an extensive collection of parts to draw on and the aircraft was ready to be rolled out of the hangar in late December 2017. Between December 28, 2017 and January 7, 2018 engine runs and test flights were conducted paving the way for the aircraft’s first revenue flight on January 16th.
It’s an amazing testament to the durability and versatility of these 75 year old relics that they continue to be the aircraft of choice for far-north operations by both Everts in Alaska and Buffalo Airways in northwest Canada. I guess as long as they continue to make money for their owners, they will remain plying the skies long after their modern replacements have been retired and reduced to beer cans.
Red Deer PV-1 Ventura – February 10, 2019
John Olafson was visiting Red Deer Airport in September 2018 when he noted what appeared to be an unidentified PV-1 or PV-2 fuselage stored outside the Buffalo Airways hangar. The registration had been rubbed out and there was no one in the hangar to ask so for the time being the identity of the aircraft remained a mystery. With help from Tony Merton Jones, I was able to identify the aircraft as PV-1 Ventura CF-FAV owned by the Ventura Memorial Flight Association. The aircraft was delivered to the U.S. Navy as BuNo 33315 and went to the RCAF as 2195. It acquired its civilian registration in January 1952 and crashed 65 miles northwest of Yellowknife, NWT on August 14, 1953. Recovered from the crash site crash site by members of the association in June 1988, the aircraft was slowly being restored at the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton, Alberta. The museum needed the space and the aircraft was moved to Red Deer, Alberta in January 2018.
----Created 10 February 2019------Updated 18 October 2020----