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Coolidge DC-7B Ferry Flight Update – September 21, 2019
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.
As reported on July 16th, International Air Response (IAR) DC-7B N4887C was forced to divert to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport shortly after departing Coolidge Municipal Airport on the first leg of a planned ferry flight to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta. Once on the ground, a number of problems were identified, the most serious being the need to replace the #3 engine. Due to higher priorities, the aircraft was placed in a hangar to wait its turn in queue. I was recently informed that work should begin shortly on repairing the aircraft with a ferry flight possible in the next few months. Good luck to everyone involved and hopefully this iconic aircraft will be part of the museum’s collection in the not too distant future.
Everts Air Cargo DC-6B Going to Norwegian Museum – September 16, 2019
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.
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.
"Save the Skymaster" Project Update - July 27, 2019
The following update was posted on the group’s Facebook page today.
Thank you to all the members who came to North Weald today to discuss the future of the Skymaster project. A very useful meeting with a lot of agreement and a plan agreed for the future of 56498. Just to reiterate Henry Hyde has no intention of dismantling the Skymaster, neither has any intention of selling her. The immediate plan is to prepare the aircraft for participation in the jet fest next month, presenting her as close as possible to the 1944 specification. After jet fest we will work towards restoring electrical power to the aircraft and then get the engines running.
Marc Hookerman Captures the Moment - July 21, 2019
Marc's done it again, capturing the very moment that DC-7B N4887C lifted off from Coolidge Municipal Airport on July 16th. While it wasn't a very long flight due to technical issues, it was exciting to see the old girl back in the air again. Many skeptics thought it would never happen. As many of you probably know, Marc's fabulous photo of Alaska Air Fuel's DC-4 N96358 graced the cover of the 2019 Propliner Annual. Keep those photos coming Marc!
"Save the Skymaster" Project Update - July 21, 2019
On July 18th "Save the Skymaster" organizers posted a pretty grim update on the future of the project. Thankfully today's update is quite a bit more optimistic.
Light at the end of the Tunnel. An update to all those members, volunteers, sponsors and supporters of Save the Skymaster. Thank you firstly for your support and passion for this historic aircraft. Today we met with Mr Hyde and it was made clear that under no circumstances will this aircraft ever be scrapped. There are no intentions to ever do this now or in the future and Mr Hyde is committed and passionate about this aircraft. It all boils down to lack of progress, disillusionment and lack of vital funds to move the project forward. The work conducted by the volunteers, members and supporters is recognised and a project of this magnitude will not and cannot survive without the support of the volunteers. The fact that it will take close to £1 million to get off the ground is a great deal but we have to start somewhere and the team has been dong all they can, when they can and with what money we have. There has been vital preservation and conservation work done over the past 18 months and all your efforts are greatly appreciated. This is a big project but we have met and discussed options with Mr Hyde and we do have a plan. A members meeting will be held at North Weald next weekend on the Saturday 27th at 10h30. Should you wish to attend to find out what the plan forward will be, please do turn up. It was good to meet to day and clear the air, wipe the slate clean and move forward. We look forward to seeing you next weekend. Thank you for your support and we value everything that has been done so far by all our members and supporters.
DC-7B Ferry Flight Update - July 18, 2019
Bill Van Dyck provided some insight today on the problems encountered by DC-7B N4887C on the first leg of her ferry flight to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta. The crew was able to safely land at nearby Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, where the issues are being attended to. Here's Bill's report.
Evidently, the issues that caused the decision to land at Mesa-Gateway, Mesa , AZ, were low oil pressure in the #3 engine and #4 engine not producing full power. There was also an oleo seal leak in the right main gear strut discovered after landing, and possibly caused by the landing. The strut leak was better found at Gateway than at an enroute refueling stop. There were apparently a few minor additional write-ups from the crew as well.
We'll have to be patient and see how these squawks play out. The two engine issues could be a simple matter of a bad oil pressure sensor or connection in #3, and fouled sparkplugs in #4. The gear strut, as I understand, will require removal of the lower strut assembly to replace the seal. Lets all hope for the easy fixes.
Sorry for the lack of photos, but Gateway is an air carrier airport with all the usual restrictive security and tall fences. Also, I apologize if I have caused any confusion by referring to it as Williams. Over the years it has been known as Williams AFB, Williams Airport, Williams-Gateway, and currently Mesa-Gateway. I still think of it as Williams.
"Save the Skymaster" Project Needs Your Support - July 18, 2019
"Save the Skymaster" project organizers sent out an urgent appeal for support today on the group's Facebook page. Confronted with a co-owner of C-54 N44914 that wants to pull the plug on the project, the organizers are faced with the daunting task of raising the necessary funds to buy him out. Considering all the work that volunteers have put in the project over the past 18 months, it would be a shame if the aircraft was scrapped. Unfortunately there is little demand for DC-4/C-54’s on the used aircraft market and scrapping the airplane would most likely be the quickest way for the co-owner to maximize the return on his investment. I wish the group luck in their efforts to preserve this historic aircraft. Here’s the statement that was released today.
Supporters and followers, we need your help urgently! After 18 months of hard work by our volunteers the owner of the C-54 Skymaster at North Weald has decided to pull the plug on the whole project! He technically is a co-owner of the aircraft but had gifted it to the Trust with a view of returning it back to flight. The ideal situation is to secure the aircraft and relieving Mr Hyde of any ownership to allow the Trust to fund raise and gain investment in the project. There will be an opportunity to discussing this on Saturday morning 10am and see if we can come to an amicable agreement with Mr Hyde to Save this aircraft. Sadly this is all about money in all ways. We need money to do IRAN on all engines, we need money to pay engineers to make the necessary repairs. Mr Hyde wants money and we need to find it fast or this historic aircraft will meet its fate.
For more information and updates on the situation, check out the "Save the Skymaster" Facebook page.
Coolidge DC-7B Encounters Problem on First Leg of Ferry Flight to Atlanta - July 16, 2019
Bill Van Dyck reports that DC-7B N4887C departed Coolidge Municipal Airport this morning on what was to be the first leg of its flight to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta. Unfortunately the flight was cut short when an oil pressure issue was encountered during climbout which resulted in the aircraft diverting to nearby Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport. The airport is home to International Air Response and hopefully the problem can be quickly rectified. Here's Bill's report for today's events.
Well, today was both exciting and disappointing. I got up at 4AM and headed down to Coolidge Muni. I arrived at sunrise and found they had already moved the plane over to the fuel pumps and were filling the tanks. Once fueled they towed it out into the ramp, loaded the tow bar into the cabin and completed the preflight checks.
Usually, I am the only photographer hanging around this old girl, but this morning they were everywhere. Delta Airlines, the new owner, had sent a team out, there were a couple of independent pros, and a number of guys just wanting to get photos of the event. It was somewhat more restrictive because I didn't want to intrude on the Delta's team, but I think everyone got what they wanted.
The engine starts went well, and as usually were more exciting than 4th of July fireworks. Then, they taxied out to Runway 5 where they held short to do final engine run-ups and checks. After a while there was a distant growl and a large plum of dust as it began its takeoff roll. It was beautiful! I wish all of you could have been there.
After the takeoff I drove John G back to his Jeep and started home, thinking it was all over and I could kick back and watch the progress on FlightAware. Then, I received a text from a friend saying they had had an engine oil pressure issue and diverted to Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa, AZ. Damn!
And, it can finally be confirmed, the new owner will be The Delta Flight Museum, in Atlanta. That was probably one of the worst kept secrets in aviation history. Sorry, I couldn't confirm this before, but the museum has now confirmed it on their FB page.
I don't know exactly what is going on, but if, and when, I do I'll let you know. I hope you enjoy the photos.
Update from Ben Boatright – There were multiple issues that grounded her in Mesa. One was a possible misfire on an engine (4, I think). Another issue arose with low power on another engine. Also, once they landed, they discovered a hydraulic leak. It looks like a min stay of a few days, but more than likely a few weeks to check everything out.
Delta Flight Museum Makes It Offical – July 15, 2019
The Delta Flight Museum made it official today by announcing that it would be acquiring a DC-7B tomorrow on July 16th. No big mystery that the DC-7B will be N4887C, which has been undergoing restoration at Coolidge Municipal Airport in Arizona for the past six months. Kudos to the museum for saving this iconic aircraft.
Coolidge DC-7B Inches Closer to Ferry Flight – July 12, 2019
Bill Van Dyck visited Coolidge Airport on July 11th and it appears that DC-7B N4887C is getting ever closer to making its first flight in quite a few years.
I went down to Coolidge yesterday and the first project of the day was to remove all items from the plane that they're not planning to take to the new owner. During the work many things (tools, parts, the water bottle cooler, etc.) were kept in the plane's cabin and baggage compartments where they would be convenient. These were removed and placed in one of the large storage containers.
The other project of the day was washing the plane. Even with all of the photos I have taken of this plane over the past I had never actually realized how dirty it was. Not engine oil, that's a given, but just Arizona dust and dirt. So, out came the pressure washers and the long handle brushes. At this point, it appears, the only remaining work to be done is putting fuel onboard. My guess is that will probably be done Monday.
As you can see; this is a very good sign. And, better yet, the flight crew is scheduled to arrive the first of this coming week. They evidently went to a contract flight crew for currency requirements. But as I expected, John M., the project manager, will be going along. So, it looks like, the only delay now (and, I'm sure you understand what a bold statement that is) could be the weather generating off the gulf coast.
I know that some of you have been watching all of this very closely, and are eager as hell to see this old girl get to her destination. You may already be aware that there is a radar tracking website called FlightAware. On FlightAware, you can enter an aircraft's N-number into their search box (the one at the very top of the page) and follow the flight path of that plane. This DC-7's tail number is; N4887C. I will make every effort to post a timely notification on this site when it departs.
"Aztec Viking" Cockpit Centerpiece of Amazing Private Collection – July 11, 2019
I recently received an email from Angel Aparicio who flies B767s for the Mexican cargo airline Aerounion. Over the past 30+ years, Angel has amassed an amazing collection of aircraft cockpits, instrument panels and other aviation artifacts that are displayed in his Mexico City home. The centerpiece of the collection is a totally restored former SAS DC-6 cockpit, which he installed on the roof of the house.
"Dear Ralph…My name is Angel Aparicio and I'm a B767captain and instructor for the Mexican cargo airline Aerounion. I was born in 1961 and love the old props. I remember seeing DC-3s, 4s, 6s, and 7s as well as Boeing Stratocruisers and Lockheed Constellations at Mexico City Airport in the late 1960's. In 1988 I bought a DC-6 cockpit from the Mexican Air Force and wrote an article about this airplane, which was published in the October 1999 issue of Airways Magazine. The article was titled “Story of an Aztec Viking" because the aircraft was built in Santa Monica, California in 1948 and delivered to Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) and named "Agne Viking." The DC-6 later flew with Aeronaves de Mexico named "Netzahualcoyotl" and ended her days with the Mexican Air Force. I have all the Propliner Magazines and I just saw your magnificent "ProplinerInfoExchange" website, which was mentioned in the 2019 annual."
"In addition to the DC-6 cockpit, I have DC-3, DC-8 and DC-9 cockpits in my collection. I also have DC-4, DC-7, B-707, B-727, B-737 and Airbus A-300 instrument panels along with panels from some military airplanes including the BT-13, Stearman, AT-6, T-28, T-33, F-105, F-4, and T-38. Also, a bunch of control wheels, instruments, propellers and parts."
What an absolutely amazing collection Angel has put together! The above photos show just a small portion of his collection. A brief history of DC-6 c/n 43120...Delivered to SAS as SE-BDB "Agne Viking" in May 1948. SAS is a joint Swedish-Danish-Norwegian operation and the registration was changed to LN-LMF in September 1954. The DC-6 was one of a group of aircraft acquired by the government owned Aeronaves de Mexico SA (AMSA) in 1959/60. It was registered XA-NAJ in March 1960 and named "Netzahualcoyotl." XA-NAJ was sold to Servicios Aereos Especiales SA (SAESA) in December 1966 and by 1971 had been withdrawn from service and stored at Mexico City Airport. The Mexican Air Force (Fuerza Aérea Mexicana) acquired the aircraft and during its last maintenance check in February 1983, it had logged a total of 42,300 hours. Officially retired by Fuerza Aérea Mexicana on October 23, 1987, Angel bought the cockpit section for its scrap value in 1988. Many thanks to Angel for sharing his story and photos.
Historical Flight Foundation DC-7B Remains Grounded in Charlotte – July 9, 2019
Michael VanderMeulen recently visited the Carolinas Aviation Museum at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and photographed Historical Flight Foundation DC-7B N836D. The aircraft has been on display at the museum since its #3 engine failed during takeoff from Charlotte International Airport on November November 18, 2011. Many enthusiasts have lamented the fact that the engine was never replaced and the aircraft made airworthy again. While at the time it would have been relatively quick and inexpensive to replace the failed engine, there was no way the aircraft could pay for itself. Without a major sponsor or a "deep pockets" donor on the horizon, it was decided to leave the aircraft in Charlotte where it could be looked after by the museum and be enjoyed by museum visitors. The aircraft is currently for sale for anyone interested in acquiring it...to date there have been no serious offers. While the aircraft appears to be in good condition, Michael noted that paint was starting to flake.
The museum will become homeless on July 14, 2019 as a result of the airport leasing its display hangar to the Honeywell Corporation. The following statement was issued on the museum's website .
"Carolinas Aviation Museum and the City of Charlotte, along with Charlotte Douglas International Airport, announced they are working together on plans for a new museum facility as the airport prepares to repurpose the museum’s existing location on airport property to serve the region’s growing private-aviation needs."
"After 26 years of making history and imagination soar, Carolinas Aviation Museum is proud to be partnering with the City of Charlotte, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and internationally recognized design firm Freeman Ryan Design to develop plans for a state-of-the-art new location in Charlotte with a planned re-opening in 2022."
Hopefully all goes well and the museum will be in its new home by 2022. Until that time the museum's aircraft will be moved to a storage location, where they won't be on public display.
Coolidge DC-7B Ready for Ferry Flight – July 9, 2019
When Bill Van Dyck recently returned from his annual summer trip to “the Lake” in northern Minnesota he was surprised to see that DC-7B N4887C had not departed Coolidge on her cross-country journey to Atlanta. Bill posted the following report on Facebook July 8th. ”As I understand, it's ready to go, ferry permit is in place (or, will be very soon), and, if nothing unexpected crops-up, departure is scheduled for next week. Frankly, I feel like the boy that cried wolf with that statement. But, it appears that work is completed and all they have been doing recently is running the engines periodically to keep them lubricated. The photos below were taken today.”
I’m glad that Bill’s back in Arizona to record the aircraft’s departure, which will hopefully happen soon.
Maryland’s Mystery DC-4 Forward Fuselage - July 8, 2019
During my June 2019 visit to Southern Maryland, I went hunting for the forward fuselage of DC-4 N8588 in Grasonville, Maryland. I first encountered the fuselage in September 1990 at Los Banos Airport in the San Joaquin Valley of California, where it was mounted on a trailer and carried “Alert II Simulators” titles. John Gaffe’s September 2018 Grasonville photograph showed the fuselage parked outdoors and luckily Google Maps still showed the fuselage parked in that spot so I was able to pinpoint its location. It would not be that easy as the fuselage has since been moved inside the building and I missed it on my first pass. The fuselage is visible inside the building through large glass windows along with DC-3 and KC-97 cockpit sections. In addition there was an early 1950’s Greyhound bus and what appeared to be a number of disassembled MiG 15/17 fighters in the building. I wasn’t able to photograph the aircraft but I can attest that it is still located in Grasonville. See my February 10, 2019 report for additional info and some photos. What plans the owner has for the DC-4 fuselage, or for any of the other artifacts, is a mystery to me.
Engine Work Continues on Coolidge DC-7B – June 2, 2019
Bill Van Dyck provided the following report on his latest Facebook post on the restoration of DC-7B N4887C at Coolidge Airport in Arizona. It appears that the first flight is getting closer but those engine gremlins keep on making things difficult.
June 1, 2019 – Work continues. While the engine runs reported in the May 22nd update seemed very encouraging, the high power runs on May 24th presented some additional issues that needed to be addressed. #2 needed an injector pump (this was known before the high power runs and, while #2 was run to keep it oiled, it wasn’t run up to power). #1 was rough running at power. #3 ran quite well. And, #4 was rough running at power too.
A new injector pump arrived and was installed in #2 this past Tuesday. And, all of the engines had their sparkplugs removed and inspected. It’s no wonder #1 ran rough; it required replacing 12 plugs. #4 also had a number of plugs that required replacing, but the question with #4 was; is the issue bad plugs or a bad fuel controller. It was decided to try the plugs first. On Thursday #4 was the last one to have its plugs inspected and replaced. Unfortunately, on Friday, the test run of #4 demonstrated that the problem was the fuel controller. The good news; a replacement was on hand and probably installed by the end of the day. Also, on Thursday the nose wheel tire was replaced with a new one.
This may seem like a long process, but keep in mind this airplane is 60+ year old and hasn’t flown in over 15 years. And, while it will only have to fly for a few hours to its final destination, the men working on it don’t look at it like that. They intend to bring this machine back to a flying condition that meets all standards, both legal and professional. That has been, and continues to be, a lot of very hard work.
Many thanks to Bill for keeping his reports and photos coming our way.
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.
Coolidge DC-7B Inching Closer to First Flight – May 25, 2019
Bill Van Dyck reports on the latest news from Coolidge Airport on DC-7B N4887C.
May 17, 2019 – I got down to Coolidge Muni early this morning and was able to get some photos before anyone else arrived. As I was working my way around the plane everyone started arriving...Alex, John G, Brandon, and, much to my surprise, Dan Stout. It was great seeing Dan, again. I wasn't expecting to see all of the cowlings off the engines again, but they had removed them to do the final inspections and adjustments to the engines. It looks like final work on the engines today and run them up Monday. And, have it flying by next Friday!
May 20, 2019 – The day was spent finishing up some detail work on the engines. One of the things completed was checking and setting ignition timing on each of the engines.
May 22, 2019 – The day was checking oil levels and replenishing oil quantities before the two sets of engine runs planned for the day. The first set of runs were done with lower cylinder sparkplugs removed to clear the engines. Only one engine at a time was run for this set and the sparkplugs were replaced at the conclusion. The next set of runs were done to check mags, props, and overall engine operation. During this run each engine was started and all four ran simultaneously. During the last run, when it was taxied, there was a lot of extraneous engine noise; popping, missing, etc. This run was glorious! Smooth, rumbling, and powerful sounding engines! It really struck me; this old girl is going to fly! Of course a few items were revealed that need to be addressed, but I think everyone was impressed with this run.
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.
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!
Coolidge DC-7B Moves Under Its Own Power – May 8, 2019
Another milestone was achieved on Monday when the DC-7B N4887C moved under its own power. Bill Van Dyck has been on top of the project from the start and posted the following report and photos.
May 6, 2019 – Monday was a very good day! I got down to Coolidge a little later than usual and was pleased to see cowling pieces laid out in front of the engines. In fact, engine #1 already had its cowling on when I got there. The goal for the day was to correct an excessive RPM drop on one of engine #2 magnetos, check the oil strainer in #3 engine, re-install the cowlings, re-inflate the main gear struts, and do a low speed taxi. Yes, it was going to taxi! I’ve been waiting since 2004 to see this old girl move under its own power. It did it a few years ago, during an earlier restoration effort, but I didn’t get to see it. So, here are the photos of Monday’s work. I wish you could have been there to see it taxi. I hope you enjoy the photos.
For additional photos and some great videos, check out Bill’s Facebook post.
Coolidge DC-7B Engine Runs – May 4, 2019
Good news from Coolidge! A major milestone was achieved on May 2nd when all four engines were run on DC-7B N4887C without any major mishap. Bill Van Dyck has been following the rebirth of this iconic airliner and posted the following report on the event. Thanks Bill for your great reporting and photos and for allowing me to post them on this website!
May 2, 2019 – Engine runs! All four engines were run with varying results. Nothing serious was discovered just a few issues that need to be resolved. The engines were first turned thru by the starters (no fuel or ignition) with the bottom spark plugs removed. This was done to prevent oil that may have settled in the lower cylinders from causing hydraulic lock damage during engine start. Once this was done the engines were started and run in sequence from #1 to #4. The planned procedure was that once the engines warmed they were to be brought up to a high power setting. While at the high power setting the props were to be cycled thru their pitch range to check their control.
Engine #1 was brought to high speed but was shut down because its low oil pressure warning light came on. While this ended its run, the good news is that the oil pressure gauge continued to show good oil pressure. This probably means the oil pressure light came on due to a loose connector. Once that is resolved it will probably be run again.
Engine #2 went thru the run up with no problems.
Engine #3 was brought up to speed but the prop wasn’t cycled because of a possible contamination problem that had been discovered when the engine was mounted. The idea was to run it up and then check the oil screen for any possible remaining contamination. It will require another run to check the prop.
Engine #4 also had a good run, but after shut down there was unusual smoke coming up thru the top cylinders. It could have been something as simple as a bird’s nest.
I tried to get numerous photos from different locations hoping to convey a better sense of the event. It was certainly noisy, but it was a sound that you wanted to hear. And, while I hope all of you enjoy this update, I am dedicating this to my friend and DBP member Larry McDonald. Larry is Canadian and visits this area during the winter, and unfortunately, had to leave for home before the engine run he was hoping to see. Wish you could have been here Larry.
Coolidge DC-7B Close to Making First Post-Restoration Flight – April 30, 2019
Bill Van Dyck has been posting regular reports and photos of the restoration of International Air Response (IAR) DC-7B N4887C at Coolidge Airport in Arizona. He posted the following report on April 29th and it appears that the aircraft is almost ready for the short ferry flight to IAR headquarters at nearby Phoenix Mesa-Gateway Airport. If rumors prove true, the aircraft will then be prepped for the long cross-country flight to the Delta Airlines Museum in Atlanta. Many thanks to Bill for his great reports and allowing me to share them.
April 29, 2019 - The overhauled fuel boost pumps have been installed and work great. However, when fuel was added to the tanks a few leaks were discovered elsewhere. #1 main tank had a popped rivet that caused a 3 inch high geyser of fuel on top of the wing. Replacing some rivets solved that. #2 main had a leak that was resealed. #3 and #4 mains both have small leaks that can be easily corrected.
Fixing the leaks has been somewhat time consuming because tanks have had to be defueled or have their fuel transferred to another tank. Unfortunately, the DC-7 doesn’t have tank to tank crossfeed capabilities like the DC-4/-6 aircraft. So, a rather ingenious method of doing tank to tank was worked out. Since the DC-7 does allow any one engine to access any tank they simple disconnected the #3 engine’s fuel supply line and connected a long hose to it. Then, by selecting any tank to feed #3 engine they can use the selected tanks boost pump to transfer fuel thru the long hose into another tank.
John (the pilot) wants 1200 gallons of fuel aboard for the flight to Mesa- Gateway. So, today was spent putting fuel onboard. It’s rather a slow process because there aren’t any fuel trucks on Coolidge. To avoid the difficulty of towing the plane over to the fuel pumps, they’ve been using a fuel container (500 gallon) on a forklift. It works but it’s rather a slow process. The good news is that they should be able to start the engine runs tomorrow. I will keep you updated. In the mean time I hope you enjoy these photos. (Note: The 55 gallon drums were removed and replaced them with the two containers in the above photo for ballast.)
Fuel Pump Issues Plague Coolidge DC-7B – April 13, 2019
Bill Van Dyck posted an update today on the current situation with DC-7B N4887C in Coolidge. “Since the last update the left wing fuel pumps have been replaced and tank leaks sealed. This past Thursday and Friday were spent replacing fuel pumps and sealing discovered fuel leaks on the right wing. At this point the fuel pumps have been an issue. The pumps being used are "as removed" from other aircraft. Unfortunately, the company has had to buy eight pumps just to get four that will run. The next hurdle is to find out if the pumps' seals are good. Since there removal from other aircraft they have probably been sitting on a shelf for years which may have caused damage to their internal seals. The only way to check those seals is to install the pumps into the tanks, then add fuel and see if they leak. There are overhauled pumps available, but they cost a couple thousand dollars each. That's not very cost effective for an airplane that is only going to fly for 6 hours, ever again. So, the next step is to see if the "new" pumps seals leak.”
SkyClass Aviation Grounds DC-4 ZS-AUB – April 11, 2019
Peter Brill reports that South Africa based Skyclass Aviation will not be renewing the C of A for DC-4 ZS-AUB. SkyClass had operated South African Airways Museum DC-3 ZS-BXF and DC-4s ZS-BMH and ZS-AUB on tourist and business charter flights to destinations in central and east Africa. DC-3 ZS-BXF and DC-4 ZS-BMH are expected to remain in operation. The DC-4s seat 50 passengers in business class configuration while the DC-3 seats up to 26 passengers.
Work Continues on IAR DC-7B at Coolidge Municipal Airport – April 4, 2019 (April 5, 2019 Update)
Lots of progress has been made on preparing DC-7B N4887C for its ferry flight since my February 26, 2019 report. Bill Van Dyck has been providing regular updates and photos on Facebook, which I’ve summarized in this report.
March 6, 2019 – Most of the work his currently being directed at the fuel system. Fixing the numerous small leaks, rehabbing valves and pumps, while waiting for the tanks to be re-sealed.
March 26, 2019 – The fuel system has been the primary area of concentration over the past couple of weeks. Pump and valve replacement is just about finished. Today John had the assistance of four additional mechanics to help finish up the fuel system. The plan from management is to do the engine runs and taxi test tomorrow, but there still seems to be some question about it being ready. I suspect it will be Wednesday. After the engine runs and taxi test the plan is to do a weight and balance check which should bring her pretty close to making the Mesa Gateway flight.
March 29, 2019 – The weight and balance check was completed, which was a very interesting process. I have seen it done on light aircraft, but this was my first time to watch it being done on a large airplane. After the weight and balance was completed the plan was to do the gear swing. Unfortunately, the wind increased and it was decided to wait until Monday. Due to the time it took to level the jacks they were left in place over the weekend. They were lowered to a point where there was still a little of the airplane’s weight on them, so they wouldn’t have to be re-leveled on Monday
April 1, 2019 – The wind picked up in the morning so it was decided to delay the gear swing until after lunch and see if the wind died down. It did and the gear swing was successfully completed.
April 4, 2019 – The fuel system is all back together and the landing gear struts were serviced yesterday. And, this morning they were doing a pitot-static check. Next up will be to put fuel in the tanks, check for leaks, then do the engine runs and taxi check.
April 5, 2019 - The fuel tank leak check yesterday showed two leaks. One was a sealing issue in #2 and the other a fuel pump in #1. Also, two fuel pumps that need to be replaced (probably overhauled). The pitot-static check showed pitot line leaks. However they appear to be in flexible line and fairly easy to replace. Engine runs will most likely be delayed.
Thanks much to Bill for his great reporting!
South African DC-6B Lives On – April 2, 2019
Well-traveled aviation enthusiast Peter Brill recently posted the following report about DC-6B ZS-MUL on Facebook. “ZS-MUL, former Canadian Pacific 'Princess of Suva'is preserved north of Pretoria, SA. Still looking as good as when she landed on this private airstrip in 2010. She was never converted to cargo configuration. Thus being totally worthless she hung on until she was saved by our friend Witold Walus who made her airworthy again after she was parked up for more than ten years at Swartkop Airbase, South Africa. A lucky survivor indeed, revisited last week. Of course you will all remember the spectacular YouTube video of her landing on a makeshift 850 meter (2,800 foot) runway. I'd like to thank Peter for allowing me to re-post the photos and report on this website.
Former Air Atlantique DC-6A to Welsh Museum – March 2, 2019
It has recently been reported that former Air Atlantique DC-6A G-APSA has been acquired by the South Wales Aviation Museum. This is very good news indeed since it was rumored in early 2018 that the aircraft was scheduled to be scrapped in March 2018. Last flown in 2008, the aircraft is currently in period British Eagle colors and will be disassembled at Coventry Airport before shipment to the museum in St. Athan, Wales. The DC-6A was delivered to Maritime Central Airways in Canada in June 1958. Eagle Aviation acquired it three months later in September 1958 and it went on to serve with Cunard Eagle Airways, British Eagle Intl Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Yemen Airways before being acquired by Air Atlanique in February 1987. Used as an oil dispersant sprayer and freighter for many years, the aircraft’s last hurrah was on the airshow circuit in British Eagle colors. This is a good ending for what could have easily been another vintage Propliner being scrapped.
IAR DC-7B to Delta Airlines Museum – February 10, 2019 (February 26, 2019 Update)
The Delta Flight Museum is reported to be negotiating with International Air Response (IAR) to purchase DC-7B N4887C for display in Atlanta, Georgia. The aircraft is currently stored at Coolidge Municipal Airport and it has done very little flying since the early 2000’s. N4887C was delivered to Delta Airlines in November 1957 and was operated by a number of travel clubs after being retired by the airline in 1968. It was sold to IAR’s predecessor T&G Aviation in June 1980 and converted to a firebomber. Assigned #33, the aircraft fought forest fires around the continental U.S. and Alaska until 2000, when it was last based in Palmer, Alaska. In early 2000 it was painted in vintage Delta Airlines colors and, for a very short time, also carried Delta Airlines titles which the airline did not find amusing. While most of the passenger interior has been removed, the original horseshoe lounge in the rear of the aircraft remains largely intact.
Two previous attempts to ferry the aircraft from Coolidge to IAR headquarters at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport resulted in aborted takeoffs and plans to move the aircraft were put on hold. Although the #3 engine needs to be replaced, the aircraft was recently inspected and found to be in good condition. Successful ground runs were performed on the other three engines in December 2018. Hopefully the sale happens and this iconic 1950’s airliner makes one last flight to a new home in Atlanta.
Bill Van Dyck reported that the #3 engine was run on February 13th and posted a video on Facebook. Bill also reported in the Facebook post that the planned departure date was sometime in early March.
Texas C-118A Lives On – February 10, 2019
C-118A N578AS was noted stored at the Zuehl Airport Flying Community near San Antonio, Texas during 2018. The airport is a residential flying community so it’s not the place where you’d normally expect the find this type of airplane. The bare metal aircraft appeared to be in good condition and had small United Airlines emblems on its nose.
N578AS was delivered to the USAF in August 1955 as 53-3279 and its 24-year military service included a stint with the U.S. Navy. Sold at auction in 1986, the aircraft was acquired by its present owner Nighthawk Air Systems in 1995. An Oakland, California group calling itself Radial Reminiscence leased the aircraft in 1995 with the intent of restoring it in United Airlines colors. The group ran out of funds and Nighthawk repossessed the aircraft, returning it to Texas. It was reported parked at Stinson Field, Texas before being flown to Zuehl Airport, where it was first noted in January 2007.
While most Propliner enthusiasts would probably love to live in a community that featured a C-118A, it was reported that neighbors didn’t appreciate the new addition and tried to have it evicted. Obviously they didn’t succeed since the airplane is still there. While appearing externally complete and in good condition, it has been dropped from the US Registry and it would probably take a significant amount of money to make it airworthy. Unfortunately, I believe the odds are against it ever flying again.
Georgia DC-4 Update – February 10, 2019
After being sold for scrap in June 2017, I figured that DC-4 N708Z wasn’t long for this world. The aircraft was abandoned at Douglas Municipal Airport in Georgia shortly after arriving in October 2005 with its #4 engine shut down. Exposed to the elements for 12+ years, the DC-4 is looking pretty rough and is reported to have considerable corrosion damage. In spite of this, it was recently rumored that the new owner planned on making the aircraft airworthy and flying it out.
Michael O’Leary visited the airport in July 2018 and reported that folks at the field were of the opinion that it will fly out “once the owner arrives with four QECs.” This is a ray of sunshine but I wouldn’t bet the farm that the DC-4 will depart Douglas on its own power.
DC-4 Fuselage Stored in Maryland – February 10, 2019
The forward fuselage of DC-4 N8588 was noted this summer stored in a commercial area along US 50 in Grasonville, Maryland. It was delivered to the USAAF in July 1944 and after the war had a short career with Chicago and Southern before being exported to Brazil in 1951. It flew for Aerovias Brasil, REAL, Loide Aero Nacional and VASP before returning to the US in 1970 and registered N8588. The aircraft was stored at Oakland Airport for a number of years and eventually became derelict.
I first came across the aircraft at Los Banos Airport in central California in September 1990 where the intact fuselage with “Alert II Simulator” markings was mounted a custom trailer. The forward fuselage was noted in Cleveland, Ohio in August 2008 and it’s a mystery to me to what it’s doing on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Perhaps it’s owned by a collector.
----Created 10 February 2019------Updated 21 September 2019----