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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 6th – 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 26th – 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 29th – 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 1st – 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 4th – 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 5th - 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.

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----Created 10 February 2019------Updated 8 May 2019----