Fw 200 Condor Restoration Project – May 29, 2020
Doug has been collecting parts for the restoration and has seats and most of the passenger cabin interior. He's still looking for some cockpit items including a Fairchild produced instrument panel, radio rack, cockpit ceiling and other additional bits and pieces. Doug would be most interested in hearing from you if you have any of these items to donate or sell to him. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Doug plans on painting one side of the aircraft in Bonanza Airlines colors and the other in Hughes Airwest colors. When complete he would like to place it on loan to a museum, where it would be available for occasional use on motion picture projects.
Here's a couple of recent photos of the Scroggins Aviation storage facility at Mojave. Many thanks to Marcus Bench and Andrew Hunt for sharing their photos.
I recently received an email from Joachim Glasenapp apprising me of an ongoing 20+ year Fw 200 Condor restoration project in Germany. Many thanks to Joachim for bringing this very interesting project to my attention. Here’s Joachim’s email…
"Some weeks ago I came across a very nice and informative German website presenting a 4-engined propeller driven passenger plane restoration project in Germany - the Fw 200 Condor. The website describes in detail the restoration of a Condor to non-flying condition using three Condor wrecks that were found in Norway some 30, 40 years ago. Remains of all three planes were rescued and transported to Bremen, Germany, in order to become one plane to be put on exhibition. The restoration team was comprised of a number of retired mechanics and engineers formerly working at the Bremen plant of Airbus using state-of-the-art technology for all necessary re-design, re-tooling, and assembly work. The aim of the restoration was not as ambitious as for Lufthansa's L-1649A Starliner and in the end the new Condor is almost ready to be presented, even with a full set of the one row "Bramo" radial engines. Final assembly was due in March, but has been stopped due to Covid-19. The project features a very pleasant down to earth approach (in all meanings), however due to the voluntary character of the restoration team, until today the restoration work has lasted almost 20 years."
"The idea is to present the Condor in a stripped-down livery (representing the status of the plane just after final assembly without any military markings) in the German Museum of Technology in Berlin. I personally really like this idea just focusing on the plane, which indeed was developed for linking people and not for military purposes, exactly as it was the case for the Constellation. Almost needless to say, the restoration of this bird is not only a German but a European endeavor being sponsored by Airbus, Rolls-Royce, Lufthansa Berlin Foundation, Deutsches Technikmuseum (German Museum of Technology), and largely supported by many people in Norway."
"Unfortunately for the time being the website https://fw200-restaurierung-bremen.de/ is presented in German only, I really hope that it will also be presented in English language one day. Nevertheless, if you go through the pages and watch all the pictures you do not need much translation as it is almost self-explaining. Moreover, you will feel the good spirit and the devotion of the restoration team to preserve this beautiful plane (almost as beautiful as the Connie) to the public."
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.
Fairchild F-27A Restoration Project – May 20, 2020
Doug Scroggins is planning to restore the forward fuselage of Fairchild F-27A N153L/N753L, which he acquired in 2001. The fuselage is currently stored at the Scroggins Aviation Mockups & Effects storage facility at Mojave Airport. The F-27A was delivered new to Bonanza Airlines in April 1959 and later saw passenger service with Southeast Airlines, Airwest, Hughes Airwest, North Canada Air, Horizon Air, Islena Airlines before being converted to a freighter by Fresh Air. Retired in the late 1980s, it was stripped of its useful parts at Chino Airport in 1992. By 2001 the airport wanted the hulk removed and Doug acquired it, just one step ahead of the scrapman. While he wasn’t able to save the entire airplane, he removed the forward fuselage and moved it to Mojave for safe keeping.
Mojave KC-97G Forward Fuselage – May 17, 2020
As reported on May 8th, Scroggins Aviation Mockups & Effects has a nice collection of vintage Propliner forward fuselage and cockpit sections at their Mojave Air and Space Port facility. On item that I failed to report on was the forward fuselage of KC-97G/L 53-0317/N971HP. This aircraft was delivered to the USAF in 1954 and was converted to a KC-97L in the mid-1960s with the installation of two J-47 jet engines. Assigned to the Texas ANG in May 1973, the aircraft was retired to Davis Monthan AFB in September 1976. Sold to Kolar and Company in October 1980, the aircraft was acquired by Hawkins and Powers in 1981 and flown to Stockton, California in January 1982 for conversion to a firebomber. This never happened and the aircraft sat at Stockton until it was acquired by Scroggins Aviation for exhibit at the Lost Birds Aviation Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada. Due to extensive corrosion, the aircraft was scrapped with the tail, wings, landing gear and engines donated to the Planes of Fame Museum for the restoration of B-50A 46-0010 "Lucky Lady II." The forward fuselage was moved to Mojave, where it was used by Scroggins Aviation as a field office for their aircraft scrapping operation. Doug Scroggins has no plans to scrap the fuselage and hopes to be able to use it in a future motion picture or television project.
Unique Dumod Liner Beech 18 Conversion in Danger of Being Scrapped – May 8, 2020 (Updated May 16, 2020)
Russell Smith originally posted the following message on Facebook back on October 27, 2019 and it was reposted by George Loudakis on May 6th. "Just got a call from Bill Signs in Dallas, TX. He is trying to sell his one of a kind Dumod converted Beech 18 before he parts it out and scraps it. It’s the triple tail extended one and is truly unique. Asking $25,000. Engines have not run in five years 740 hours and 1580 hours. Props are 2D30’s with 100 hours but have set outside and the hubs either need replated or replaced. Bill estimates 100 man hours to get it ready to ferry. The aircraft is in Addison Texas. Contact Bill Signs, 972-979-2037. Someone please rescue this iconic aircraft." From another post of Facebook, the aircraft is reported to perhaps have a spar corrosion issue.
From Robert K. Parmerter's Beech 18 book....N445DM was one of three Dumod Infinite II Dumod Liners built by the Dumod Corporation in the mid-1960s. It was the prototype and attended the June 1964 Reading Air Show with two rudders. A third vertical stabilizer was added in 1966 after additional flight testing was completed. N492DM and N497DM were the two other Infinite II conversions completed by Dumod and both were written off in accidents. This unique aircraft deserves to be saved and the Waller County Aviation Museum has expressed interest in adding it to its collection.
Update: On May 15th Russell Smith reported the sad news that N445DM would be scrapped. Barring a last minute stay of execution, it appears that this classic will fall victim to the scrapman. Very sad indeed!
Successful Season for Kansas Based S2F Firebomber – May 6, 2020
Bill Garrison recently completed his first aerial firefighting season with S2F N508JR. As reported on April 2, 2019 and November 17, 2019, Bill acquired the aircraft from the Cactus Air Force Museum in 2018. CAL FIRE operated the aircraft for many years as Tanker #81 and #93 and #95 before retiring it sometime around 2009 in favor of turbine powered S2Ts. After making it airworthy, Bill ferried the aircraft to his home base at Hutchinson Municipal Airport in Kansas and restored it as a firebomber. The Kansas state legislature had recently allocated funding for aerial firefighting and the S2F was put on a state firefighting contract. It fought its first fire in nearby Cheyenne County on November 9, 2019. The aircraft can carry 800 gallons of water and has proved to be very effective in fighting fires during its first season. Congratulations to Bill on a successful season and I wish him the best of luck with the S2F. With most of its sisters in the boneyard or worse, it’s great to see this 60+ year old vintage aircraft still being productive. In addition to some current photos, I've included some of the aircraft during its earlier days as N447DF with CAL FIRE.
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.
Vintage Aviation Museum Harpoon Restoration – April 30, 2020
The Vintage Aviation Museum is currently working on making PV-2 N7272C airworthy again after many years of being grounded. "We are returning a rare Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon to flight. We have named her "Bad To The Bone" and we need your help to wake her up. The Harpoon was a WWII patrol bomber that was used for anti-shipping operations, primarily in the Aleutian Islands. Currently there are only three airworthy Harpoons, and once airworthy ours would make number four. The cost of the carburetor overhauls is $9,000 for both carbs. Any donations to help offset this cost would be greatly appreciated. To donate simply click on this link."
This aircraft, along with PV-2s N7670C, N7458C and N7080C were once part of Hirth Air Tankers' fleet of PV-2s based at Johnson County Airport in Buffalo, Wyoming. The company was founded July 1987 by John Hirth and his wife Connie and operated a small fleet of PV-2’s doing aerial firefighting and spraying work. John was killed in the crash of PV-2 N6856C on April 20, 1997 while fighting a fire in Blandburg, Pennsylvania. I believe the company shut down operations shortly thereafter. I visited the airport on July 30, 2006, where all four aircraft were parked in various degrees of completeness. Here's photos of the other three aircraft taken during that visit.
Please consider donating to this worthy project. While the PV-2 is definitely underappreciated in the warbird community,it played a vital roll during WWII and this airplane deserves to be saved.
IAR C-130A Fuselage Noted at Coolidge Airport – April 24, 2020
Kevin Kadling recently visited Coolidge Airport and photographed the fuselage of C-130A N119TG, which had arrived from Santa Barbara, California about six weeks earlier. The aircraft is owned by International Air Response (IAR) and, as reported on September 28, 2019, it suffered significant damage while making an emergency landing at Santa Barbara Airport on August 25, 2019. IAR is headquartered at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport and it is not known if they plan on repairing or writing off the aircraft. Ken Swartz photographed the aircraft at Santa Barbara on January 25, 2020 when it was being disassembled for transport back to Arizona.
C-46 Scrapped in Colombia - January 23, 2020
The world’s population of C-46 aircraft decreased by one when C-46A HK-3150 was scrapped at El Dorado International Airport in Bogotá, Colombia on September 17, 2019. The aircraft had been parked at the airport for a number of years in deteriorating condition and, while its scrapping shouldn’t be a big surprise, it was a shame that it had to be done. It was reported that the scrapping was completed between 7:00am and 12noon without even removing the engines and other salvageable components. Andres Ochoa photographed the aircraft on January 24, 2018 and again at night on March 5, 2019.
New Smyrna Beach Airport PBY Report - January 8, 2020 (February 5, 2020 Update)
While in the strict sense of the word, the PBY Catalina is not a "Propliner" but I'll make an exception in this case. Nigel Hitchman visited New Smyrna Beach Airport, Florida on December 30, 2019 and noted three PBY Catalina’s at American Aero Services and one stored in a yard across the street from their hangar. He posted the following report and photos on Facebook.
N459CF PBY-5A--Former PH-PBY, being returned to authentic US Navy configuration for the Collings Foundation.
N983CF Canso A--Former C-FPQK/RCAF was bought by the Collings Foundation for restoration, but now stored after their purchase of PH-PBY. Rumored to possibly be wanted by the Dutch? (Update---Coert Munk contacted the Dutch Catalina folks and they told him that they have no plans to acquire the aircraft.)
N4582U PBY-5A--Confirmed from an identification plate I found which gives serial as Bu46457 and FAB6510 (Brazilian AF) this was displayed at Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque, NM then sold. Now owned by a Russian and being restored to static condition for a museum in Russia.
N423RS/JV928 PBY-5A--In open storage at an industrial yard at the airport. It was apparently moved here some months ago from Ft Pierce, Florida.
I visited American Aero back in November 2017 and noted the stored fuselage, wings and engines from Super Catalina N287. This aircraft was a resident at Tamiami Airport for many years before being disassembled and trucked to New Smyrna Beach a few years back. Nigel reports…"The fuselage has gone to the Cavanaugh Flight Museum, who owns the aircraft. It’s not on display and I have read that it’s stored somewhere else, not at Addison. The wing is still at New Smyrna Beach where it’s in the hangar in front of the other wing that’s been in a jig for years. It’s the basic box section between the front and rear spars with the leading edges, flaps and tips removed and the black paint removed. So it’s a bit difficult to recognize it as from N287. It’s been dismantled for inspection, but so far they don’t know what the next step will be, whether Cavanaugh restore it to fly, or just put it back together and paint it for static display."
Many thanks to Nigel for his report. As an airline pilot, Nigel travels the world and his frequent aircraft reports are both interesting and an invaluable source of information for the enthusiast community.
UPDATE: DAVID LEGG, EDITOR OF CATALINA NEWS PROVIDED THE FOLLOWING COMMENTS REGARDING NIGEL'S REPORT. "TO THE BEST OF MY KNOWLEGE, THE HULL OF N287 WAS MOVED TO SHERMAN, TEXAS. I AGREE THAT THE WINGS ARE STILL AT NSB. ALSO, SOMEWHERE IN THE HANGAR ARE THE WINGS OF N7057C, WHICH ARE UNDER LONG-TERM REBUILT TO REPAIR CORROSION."
Aviation Collection For Sale - January 5, 2020
I recently received an email from Richard Knight who has a large aviation collection that he would like to sell. "My name is Richard Knight and I have a large collection of Propliner and early jet books (paperback and hardcover); VHS videos (30+); models; Propliner Magazine issues 23 thru 90 with many doubles; and other aviation magazines. The collection takes up a whole bookcase and time has come for me to part with my collection. Do you know of anyone who would have an interest in buying my collection?"
If interested, please contact Richard directly at email@example.com
Reassembly Begins on Hagerstown Aviation Museum C-123K - January 5, 2020
Volunteers at the Hagerstown Aviation Museum wasted no time in beginning the reassembly of C-123K N681DG, which had arrived at the museum on December 17, 2019. With a crane hired from Diggers and Riggers, the center section was lowered into place on December 27th. With this accomplished, the interior of the aircraft will be protected from the weather, which had to be a high priority for the museum. Hopefully it won’t be too long before the aircraft is totally reassembled.
Hagerstown Aviation Museum C-123K Arrives Home - December 24, 2019
The fuselage of C-123K N681DG departed Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE) on December 17, 2019 on a lowboy trailer for the long roadtrip to Hagerstown, Maryland. The aircraft is owned by the Hagerstown Aviation Museum and, after working on it for many years to make it airworthy for a ferry flight, it was decided to disassemble the aircraft and truck it to museum headquarters in at Hagerstown Regional Airport (HGR). The fuselage was the final piece to make the trip with the wings, center section, tail, engines and other components making the trip earlier in December.
The move was not to be without challenges, with the State of Virginia requiring upwards of two weeks to approve the necessary permits. This dictated a reroute around Virginia through Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia before finally arriving in Hagerstown on the afternoon of December 20th. Museum president John Seburn and about a dozen people were on hand to welcome the aircraft. Hagerstown Airport was home to Fairchild Aircraft, where 300+ C-123’s were built from 1953 to 1958. The museum’s collection contains many Fairchild produced aircraft including C-82A N9701F and C-119G N8093, which have been on display at the museum for a number of years. The C-123K will complete the museum’s trio of Fairchild produced military transports
N681DG had been parked at Florida’s Opa-locka Airport for many years before being seized by the U.S. Government. It was ferried the short distance to Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE) in June 2012 and offered for sale by the government. The museum acquired it in October 2012 and FXE based Aztec Airways was contracted to inspect the aircraft and perform the necessary maintenance required for a ferry flight to Hagerstown. A crew from the museum arrived in Fort Lauderdale in November 2013 and, along with mechanics from Aztec Airways, an inspection was performed and the engines were run. Other than deteriorated fabric on the flight controls, no major discrepancies were found during the inspection. The flight controls were removed and sent to Hagerstown where they were recovered with new fabric by museum volunteers in 2014. Getting the aircraft airworthy for the long ferry flight to Hagerstown proved to be more daunting than originally expected and it was finally decided in 2019 to disassemble and transport the aircraft by road.
Moving the C-123 from Ft Lauderdale Executive Airport to the Hagerstown Regional Airport has been a major project for the museum. Additional funds are needed to help with the transportation and restoration costs. You can donate to the C-123 Project at
https://www.hagerstownaviationmuseum.org/ and by donating, your name will be included with other C-123 donors on a plaque inside the C-123. For a donationi of $100 or more, you will receive a unique collection of Fairchild C-123 original films. This DVD covers the years of C-123 production from the Hagerstown factory to Air Force Bases and to Vietnam and consists of 7 films/115 minutes.
Kansas Based S-2 Makes Firefighting Debut - November 17, 2019
As reported on April 2, 2019, Bill Garrison acquired former Cal Fire S-2 (S2F-1) N508JR/Tanker #95 from a museum in Nevada with the intent of returning it to wildfire fighting duties in Kansas. The Kansas state legislature recently allocated $650K for the operation and maintenance of firefighting aircraft for wildfire suppression. The aircraft can carry up to 800 gallons of water and was used for the first time by Garrison to fight a wildfire in Cheyenne County on November 9, 2019. The S-2 is currently on contract with the state and is based in Hutchison Municipal Airport.
KC-97G on Display at Cleveland Airport - October 25, 2019
Jim Kovacik recently attended a cat show at Cleveland’s International Exposition (I-X) Center and found KC-97G 52-2604 on display! As reported on February 10, 2019 the aircraft was rescued in June 2017 from a Tucson, Arizona boneyard where it was disassembled and trucked to Cleveland for reassembly. 52-2604 was the last of the many hundreds of retired C-97 type aircraft that passed through Davis Monthan AFB, with most being scrapped. Kudos to the International Exposition (I-X) Center for saving this iconic aircraft, which it plans on converting to a restaurant sometime in the future.
Former Winair YS-11 Hangs on in St. Maarten - October 24, 2019
In April 2019 Phil Brooks reported that former Winair YS-11 PJ-WIJ was destined to be sunk in the ocean off Sunset Bar and Grill to become a destination for divers and the local fish population. The aircraft is still located in Bobby’s Marina where I photographed it on October 11, 2019. For many years the aircraft was fitted out as a restaurant on the outskirts of Phillipsburg. While the aircraft survived Hurricane Irma, the attached restaurant was not so lucky and was totally destroyed. The aircraft’s interior has been totally stripped and, as can be seen in my photos, large holes have been cut in right side of the fuselage. When comparing my photos to Phil’s photos, it doesn’t appear that much has happened since April so it’s hard to tell when the YS-11 will be relegated to Davy Jones locker. Not a great ending for this aircraft but at least it will be put to good use.
Visit to Ju-Air – September 22, 2019
On August 8, 2019 I was with a group that visited Ju-Air’s headquarters, which is located on Dübendorf Air Base near Zurich, Switzerland. Ju-Air was formed in 1981 and, for 36 years, provided sightseeing and enthusiast rides in four Ju-52 type aircraft. On August 4, 2018 one of their Ju-52s crashed near Piz Segnas, Switzerland, while on route from Locarno to Dübendorf with the loss of all 20 persons onboard. It was the company’s first fatal crash since the beginning of flight operations in 1982. The aircraft involved was 79-year old Ju-52 HB-HOT, c/n 6595, which had served with the Swiss Air Force from 1939 to 1985, when it was acquired by Ju-Air.
As a result of the crash, on March 12, 2019 the Swiss aviation authority FOCA restricted Ju-52 flights to club members only and decreed that vintage aircraft, such as the Ju-52, no longer met current safety requirements for carrying commercial passengers. The following statement was released by FOCA. “Following the accident in the summer of 2018, Federal Office for Civil Aviation (BAZL) re-evaluated the risks of passenger flights with classic planes and came to the conclusion that commercial operation with historic aircraft no longer meets today’s safety requirements.”
The remaining airworthy Ju-52s, HB-HOP and HB-HOS, were allowed to fly members until November 2018 when the Swiss Transportation Investigation Board (STIB) found corrosion on the accident airplane and both aircraft were grounded. A third Ju-2 (actually a CASA 352L) HB-HOY had been retired in 2016 and was at Mönchengladbach, Germany.
After months of planning and preparation, the overhaul of Ju-Air’s Ju-52s has begun with HB-HOS first to undergo the process. In order to return their Ju-52s to full airworthy status, Ju-Air has initiated the following plan and hopes to resume flight operations in the spring of 2021.
1. The project is being led by Junkers Flugzeugwerke in Dübendorf, Switzerland.
2. FOCA will have complete oversight over the project. Each step of the process will be planned out in detail with FOCA reviewing and approving it prior to implementation.
3. After a process has been completed, FOCA will verify that it was performed correctly.
4. The overhauls will be performed by certified specialty companies subcontracted by Junkers.
5. The entire aircraft and its components will be mapped digitally thus creating digital drawings.
6. The wings will be overhauled in Malters, Switzerland. Load bearing wing components will be replaced with newly replicated parts produced by certified specialty companies. These replacement parts will be fabricated using the digital drawings produced from the digital mapping. It is expected that 90% of wing components will be replaced.
7. The fuselage, tail unit, landing gear and other components will be overhauled in Dübendorf, Switzerland by certified specialty companies.
8. The BMW 132 radial engine will be replaced with the more common Pratt & Whitney R1340 engine. The BMW engines were becoming increasingly difficult to support and this issue should be solved with utilizing the R1340s.
9. Outside experts have been retained to develop a plan of action to reorganize Ju-Air’s aircraft and engine maintenance operations. FOCA will oversee this effort.
10. When the overhaul is complete, the aircraft should be almost new and meet current FOCA safety standards.
Arriving at Dübendorf Air Base, we were met by our guide and escorted to one of Ju-Air’s large hangars, which HB-HOP shared with a Twin Bonanza. Its engines and some control surfaces had been removed but otherwise the aircraft appeared essentially intact. This hangar also houses Ju-Air’s engines and we were shown a newly overhauled BMW radial engine. These engines were built in Germany under license from Pratt & Whitney. We next went to another hangar where HB-HOS had been disassembled and digital mapping of the aircraft was underway. We were warned not to touch the aircraft as any movement would invalidate the mapping process being performed.
Next on the tour was a hangar full of very interesting aircraft including Junkers F13 HB-RIM, Waco YMF-5FC HB-DMO and Bücker Jungmann HB-UVR, which are all used for sightseeing rides. In addition, Junkers F13 HB-RIA was being fabricated. I’m not totally sure, but I believe that the two F13 aircraft are replicas built to Junkers specifications.
It was a great visit and I’d like to thank Ju-Air for their hospitality and the great tour. Guided tours, similar to one I took, are available to the general public but must be scheduled in advance. After the Ju-Air tour, we made the short walk to the Flieger Flab Museum, which has an interesting collection of aircraft.
C-130A Makes Emergency Landing at Santa Barbara Airport – September 18, 2019
International Air Response (IAR) C-130A N119TG made an emergency landing at Santa Barbara Airport (SBA) on Sunday August 25, 2019. There were no injuries to the seven people onboard. It was reported that the aircraft experience hydraulic problems shortly after departing the Santa Maria Public Airport (SMX) enroute to IAR’s home base at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (IWA). Unable to extend its landing gear, the aircraft slid off the runway and came to rest on its right wingtip. A small fire was quickly extinguished by the airport’s fire department. For more information check out the Aviation Safety Network website.
Lufthansa Ju-52 Moved by Road to Bremen for Storage – September 18, 2019
Ju-52 D-CDLH (marked as D-AQUI) was moved by road last night from Hamburg to a warehouse in Bremen, Germany for storage while it awaits a decision on its ultimate fate. Lufthansa operated the Ju-52 on promotional and enthusiast flights for quite a few years before the airline decided to withdraw funding for the program last year. It was disassembled and stored in Hamburg until last night’s move. Starliner N7316C departed Portland, Maine by sea on September 17th and will join the Ju-52 when it arrives in Bremen on September 29th. It is very unlikely that either aircraft will ever fly again as Lufthansa’s board has already decided that both will eventually become static displays. Many thanks to Jan Frieben, who was on hand for the move and forwarded the following photos.
Turbo-liner Operator GB Express for Sale - September 15, 2019
Fort Lauderdale International Airport (FLL) based GB Express is for sale. The company owner is retiring and the sale includes Turbo-liners N30GB, N310GB and N320GB along with Skyvan N80GB, which are all on the company’s Part 135 certificate. Also included is a U.S. Customs bonded warehouse at the airport. These aircraft are the only Propliners based at FLL and hopefully they will remain based there under new ownership.
Rolling Boxcar Project Wraps Up Phase 1 – August 16, 2019
Well guys...pretty much done here in Battle Mountain. Fuselage is in McArthur, Calilfornia and all that can be done here is done. Took a little longer than expected but done is done. I have a huge load of props, doors, flaps and speed rings and I will be headed out in the AM for AK. Feels a little funny after being here for two months and settling into a routine of working everyday on the same thing. Might find a lake along the road north and stick my feet in it for a day. Then I will be looking for a J.O.B. to tide me over till we can start on Phase 2. The sooner the better. And I will be hot and heavy on the fundraising scene.
John Reffett has loaded all the parts and pieces to make the 3,000 mile trip north too but there is some sort of small problem with his truck so it's in the truck hospital in Winnemucca. He will be making good use of his "waiting on the truck" time to rid the horizontal stabilizer of it pigeon poop and nests. He will be returning to Battle Mountain several more times to get basically the entire airplane, minus the fuselage, moved to Palmer. He will be hauling a lot of stuff for RBC also including the engines at a later date.
Thanks for the coffee Dean. All five bags are sold as fast as they got here. Hotel staff, John bought some.
OK...Have a great meeting Monday as I'm sure I will be in the middle of Canada someplace. Dave will be putting together the agenda and be at the meeting. I will be compiling a list for Meg on the drive up for the grant she is working on. Lots of idle time so will put it to good use. Sure wish we could have dove into Phase 2 but was not meant to be...yet. See you all soon.
President, Rolling Boxcar, Inc.
Rolling Boxcar Updates From Battle Mountain – August 4, 2019
Dave Ciocchi and John Will are part of the team from Rolling Boxcar that is disassembling C-119G N5261R at Battle Mountain, Nevada. I previously reported on the project on April 22 and June 15 and since then Dave and John have been providing regular updates. The team successfully disassembled the aircraft and towed it 400 miles from Battle Mountain to McArthur, California on Friday August 2. Congratuations to all involved for a job well done!
August 4 – With great fanfair from our friends and fellow RBC members, we left Battle Mountain on Friday headed for the great state of California. Had not one mishap and actually got to the rebuild site later that day. Board member Randy Sorenson had us safely cooking along at a smooth 60 MPH and with a few breaks, we had RBC rolling into McArthur in record time. I have it on good authority that there has never been a C-119 moved from Battle Mountain Nevada to McArthur California that fast. Not on land anyway. Might be wrong but...OK. We'll keep you posted.
August 3 – Safe arrival of the Rolling BoxCar and completion of Phase One!
August 2 – On road at 07:37. It tows very nicely.
July 30 – Hello RBC members, fans and fellow compatriots. RBC is just about ready to hit the road headed for her rebuild site in McArthur California. She weighs in (unofficially) between 6-8,000 pounds, just under 15' high and an impressive 60 feet long and 11'6" in width. Should be cruising through Reno Nevada late Friday afternoon. We will be putting her to bed in McArthur and returning to Battle Mountain to finish cleaning up the sight and then we head home to Alaska. Her grand entrance into Alaska will have to wait as funds for Phase 2 will need to be raised. Phase 1 is all but in the bag and the design and build team have done a wonderful job in the heat and wind that only Nevada can dish out. Come see us if you like as we will not be leaving till Friday morning. ROLL ON!
July 28 – Well the design team of two Johns and a Dave had a little get together and come up with a plan for the next week or so.
Randy will be here on Thursday to dial in all the last minute details of getting RBC on the road and over to CA. The plan is to leave Battle Mountain early Friday morning after a hearty breakfast of KBC/RBC coffee, bagels and cream cheese and fruit loops. Dave usually makes himself a pancake out of some sort of discolored sheet rock taping mud they have as batter. Randy figures it will be a two day trip as we can only travel in daylight hours. Our new friend and RBC member Patty Johnson here in Battle Mountain will call ahead and do a press release in Reno and anywhere else she thinks would have interest. I ordered a banner so those that might might not see the 60 foot long, 11.5 feet wide and 15 foot tall fuselage pushing Randy's dually down the highway might be blown away with the cool RBC logo banner that will have the web site on it so they can go see what we are up to.
Dave and I will hang in CA maybe have a day with Bill and Karen and pickle RBC for the indefinite future before heading back to Battle Mountain the following Monday. Plan then would be to help John R finish up the wings and tails, clean up the sight, load up all the goodies to bring North and hit the road for Alaska the following Saturday.
I talked to the Battle Mountain Attack Base and they like the idea of RBC donating the jet to them as a monument to fallen aerial firefighters on their base with a flag pole and a plaque. RBC will provide the jet and the plaque and they will provide the concrete and whatnot to get it done. Dave will be working with Patty on a cool plaque and I will be checking on who/what/when can cast a plaque for us. We'll see what happens there as I need a sit down with the big boss.
Hope we had a good turnout in Deltana. Coffers need beans and I sure hope the iron is in the fire on that front. If someone could get some more flyers in the mail to me that would be good. Just send them to this hotel as we will be coming back here. Another hotel without crickets and fruit loops just wouldn't be the same. There is even a machine here that will, as long as you hold down the button, pump out an endless stream of both cranberry juice and/or orange juice. Not sure how that one works but I'm sure it's good for you. Coffee is to die for too. They make it a week in advance so it's always ready and hot. Good thing I got some Boxcar Blend in in my cell down the hall. Randy will be staying somewhere else Thursday night. Seems to think wall board pancakes and imitation cream cheese is not on his bucket list. Wait till he gets into RBC camp and I hand him a cup-o-noodles for lunch on pigeon poop carpet under the wing center section. Finer dinning can't be found.
OK...off to bed I go. See most of you sooner than planed. ROLL ON!
President, Rolling Boxcar, Inc.
July 21 – RBC was re-born a little after 9:00am, Saturday, July 20th with not even a whimper. Now comes the task of getting her ready for the trip to McArthur CA. The trailer is well suited for the weight of RBC. She looks big, and she is, but way less than the trailer is rated for. Tomorrow we will lower the booms down onto the water tanks that will anchor them so they don't move. Then we will collapse the main gear so the wing center section and booms and tails are at almost eye level making it a lot easier and safer to work on. As for RBC, we will be removing a lot more items and getting it ready for the road. Phase 1 of the project is almost complete. Thanks for your support thus far and we are looking for help in getting phase 2 started as soon as we get to California. Please go to www.rollingboxcar.com to help us out by becoming a member or giving a tax deductible donation. We are also still looking for sponsors for the sound stage, fuel, steel for the sub structure and propane. Thanks again! ROLL ON!!
July 20 – Congratulations RBC fans and board members! Behold the birth of rolling boxcar. We had separation this morning just a little after 9. Everything was successful and she has all her fingers and toes! Dave and I are ecstatic! And Matt was here to witness it!
July 18 – RBC is now on the trailer...just need a few more parts removed before the big move to CA. Will be going through Reno on our way to California.
July 16 – Big news today! Scott brought his heavy service truck crane to our site and by 10:45am both outer wing panels were safe on the ground resting on tires. Major alteration of appearance.
July 15 – Finished prepping both outer wing sections for removal. Back side of the front spar has three 1/4" bolts at the top that are just plain out of reach. I made 3 wrench adapters (one for my 1/4 drive ratchet, another for a 7/16" box end, and the other for an open end). Trying to get into the gap to turn them ..... I could get my head up in there, but only if I left my ears behind. So, stand on the 10' ladder one step higher than comfortable, crouch down, turn sideways, push up into the gap, and remove those last few nuts and bolts. I can only marvel at Fairchild production workers putting them in.
July 13 – Some fun today. Over 100 degrees inside that aluminum cavern, and more than that on top of those wings. Can only do topside work for a few hours early in the day before it gets too much hotter. Did the bathtub fittings on the left wing today and had no real issues. Outer wings about ready to come off; expect that to happen early next week. John is doing a magnificent job on removing part of the fuselage belly skins, frames, and stringers. At these ambient temperatures any kind of functioning is very difficult for these Alaskans.
July 6 – Many miles away from my computers with only a cranky cell phone to try connecting. And it's being its usual annoying uncooperative self. Can't comment or indicate like or much of anything. Wondering if this will post...... Had a fine day today, 10 hours and 25 minutes with no heat stroke. Getting closer to the next major milestone - de-mating the wing center section from the fuselage. Still a lot to do before the actual event, but much closer. Life is very, very, good. My blessings are countless!
June 29 – Beating on our airplane (oh, do I loooove being able to say that!) is tedious, potentially dangerous, and strangely satisfying. We are boldly going where no one with any sense would voluntarily go. But our chosen mission is an important one, and we are in a unique position to bring it off. If it takes hanging by my toes from the top rung of a tall ladder, I guess that is a small price to pay for the privilege of being part of the effort. I am honored to be in this project.
June 26 – Maybe no such thing as a typical day at the Battle of Battle Mountain, but here's a brief overview of Tuesday the 25 of June. We arrived at 07:30 and started actual work in about 10 minutes. That's set-up time for opening up the aircraft doors, setting out toolboxes, topping off the ice chests, and checking fuel and oil on generators, air compressor, and pressure washer. Yup, it would probably make more sense to do that before we roll out at the end of the work day, but we are so whipped by then it just doesn't get done then. Got to taking advantage of the sun position and worked the wing to fuselage fairings under the left wing pit. Nice shade! Got most of them off with no damage and little difficulty. Our 50 - 50 mix of acetone and automatic transmission fluid is working pretty well. Drilling out less than 20% of the screws, which ain't bad. Inside the airplane it is getting partially stripped of non RBC required items. All of the rotten plywood floor panels are out now. What a huge relief! Starting in on wing to fuselage attachments - no, not taking them out, just getting access to them. Got many, many, control cables, hydraulic limes, fuel lines, water injection plumbing, and loads of other stuff. We take hydration breaks frequently and about 30 minutes for lunch, so even though we were on site 11 hours today, we weren't working all that time. Of that 11 hours I was on a ladder for probably 7 or 8 hours. Not my favorite thing to do! Feet hurt! Finally decided to hang it up at 6:30. "Home" to the Royal Inn, a hot soak in the tub, a quick bite of dinner and a very little bit of electron pushing (like this update) and maybe you should spread some butter on me - 'cause I'm toast!
June 22 – Both engines uncowled and props prepped for blade removal. Today we pulled the outboard ailerons, the rest of the floorboards, and the ventral fins.
June 20 – One full week in Battle Mountain today - and it was a really full week. We stood down on Sunday (which we will continue to do) and have averaged 10 hours a day. I am borderline close to being sunburned on both arms but so far am avoiding it. Drinking LOTS of water. Our home brew penetrating oil mixture is working pretty well. Drilling out far fewer screws than I had feared (still too many though). Both props, both engines, and all fairings on outer wing panels topside are off. Most of the floorboards are out. Lots of work! Just the pigeon poo removal alone was a Titanic undertaking. We are pleased with the results so far. Tonight I treated John to a steak dinner as a celebration of out first week on the job.
Many thanks to Dave and John for providing these informative and colorful updates!
AMC Museum C-119 Restoration – July 8, 2019
During our annual visit to Southern Maryland in June, I took the opportunity to visit the very excellent AMC Museum at Dover AFB on June 26th to check out progress on the restoration of C-119B 48-0352. As reported on March 3, 2019 the aircraft was rescued by the museum from Edwards AFB just days before it was to be auctioned off as scrap. Transported to Dover AFB, the aircraft was reassembled by a crew from Worldwide Aircraft Recovery earlier this year. Museum volunteers are currently completing the restoration of the aircraft, which had been upgraded to a C-119C during its USAF service. The C-119C dorsal fins and extended vertical stabilizers have been removed as they were modifications performed after the aircraft’s Korean War service. New outboard horizontal stabilizer extensions will be hand crafted and installed. For more information about the restoration effort and history of the aircraft, check out my February 2019 article on this website.
While not a Propliner by strict definition, I thought I’d include a few photos of KB-50J 49-0386, which is also being restored by the AMC Museum. The aircraft had been display at MacDill AFB in Tampa for many years and was suffering the effects of the corrosive and humid Tampa environment. The aircraft was moved from MacDill to the AMC Museum in early 2018 and reassembled in February 2019. Museum volunteers are currently in work repairing corrosion damage and restoring the aircraft for display.
BAHF Needs Your Help – June 16, 2019
As reported June 15th on this website, Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation (BAHF) C-97G N117GA experienced an inflight engine failure on June 4, 2019. The organization issued an appeal for funding to replace the engine on their Facebook page today.
On Tuesday, June 4, the C-97 “Angel of Deliverance” was returning to Reading, PA from Hagerstown, MD to participate in the annual Mid Atlantic Air Museum World War II Weekend event. At a point 20 miles southwest of Reading, the number two engine suffered a catastrophic internal failure and had to be shut down and feathered. While a routine three engine landing was made at Reading, we are now left in need of a replacement engine. There are a few out there, but finding a airworthy replacement may be difficult. We are looking at a cost of around $300,000.This amount will not only help us obtain a replacement R-4360-59B engine, but a meaningful supply of spares which will secure the airplane’s future for a long time to come. Find out how to help by visiting our website at www.spiritoffreedom.org. You can also donate directly via PayPal to Airlift48@aol.com. The Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation is a 501 c 3 tax exempt charitable organization.
The “Angle of Deliverance” is the only airworthy C-97 type aircraft so please consider making a donation to get her back flying again.
Tom Singfield Publishes Gatwick Propliner Book – June 15, 2019
Noted aviation writer and photographer Tom Singfield recently published his latest book, titled “Classic Gatwick Propliners.” Released by The History Press on April 15, 2019, the book is currently available in the U.K. at Amazon (£12.71) and Waterstones (£20.00) with free U.K. delivery. It is scheduled to be available at Amazon in the U.S. on July 15th for $35. The U.S. Amazon site features a preview of the first 43 pages of the book and the Table of Contents. Here’s a brief synopsis of the book.
This book is the result of nearly 30 years of searching for the very best images of classic airliners taken at Gatwick. Many aircraft enthusiasts preferred Gatwick to Heathrow because of its eclectic mix of new jetliners and old propeller airliners. Gatwick’s accessibility for enthusiasts, photographers and the general public in the 1960s/70s was superb. For a small charge, visitors could walk along two open “fingers” that extended from the Terminal building to view airport activity up close without any restrictions. These fingers allowed aircraft photographers to capture nearly every arrival and with a quick visit to the south side maintenance area in the days before high security, they could walk the ramp there for even more aircraft pictures. The book is a glorious full colour celebration of the golden days at London’s second airport featuring high quality images of the classic propeller-powered airliners that visited Gatwick in the first 20 years after it re-opened in 1958. Each image is accompanied by an extended, fully researched and interesting caption.”
Rolling Boxcar Crew Begins Disassembly of Battle Mountain C-119 – June 15, 2019 (June 16, 2019 Update)
John Will, Dave Ciocchi and a small group of Rolling Boxcar volunteers departed Eagle River, Alaska the morning of June 8, 2019 for the long drive to Battle Mountain, Nevada. Less than a week later they had started the disassembly of C-119G N5261R with both engines being uncowled and the landing gear doors and radar nose removed. Pigeons have been nesting in the airplane for many years and one of the first tasks facing the crew was to remove the many buckets of pigeon droppings. Not a very pleasant chore but it has to be done! For more information about the project, check out my April 22nd newspiece and the group’s website.
John Will reported in and forwarded some photos on June 16th..."Well...things are looking better here at Rolling Boxcar Base Camp Battle Mountain. We got here late Wednesday night and were drilling rusty screws and pressure washing pigeon poop by 8am the next morning. Dave and I are suffering from the heat a bit but drinking lots of water is the trick. Found several key parts of the plane have found new homes or simply walked off prior to our arrival but hope to find replacements for them soon. Several hundred pounds of pigeon poop will make this desolate area of sand into a very futile ground. So on we go pulling this old bird apart and preparing it for its trip to California. I do know that I will never again whine about a hot 70 degree day in Alaska. Thanks for your support out there and Happy Father's day to all my fellow fathers."
BAHF C-97G In-Flight Engine Failure – June 15, 2019
Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation (BAHF) C-97G N117GA experienced an in-flight engine failure on June 4, 2019. The #2 engine failed during a flight from Hagerstown Regional Airport in Maryland to Reading Regional Airport where the aircraft was participating in the Mid Atlantic Air Museum’s WWII Weekend event. The aircraft landed safely at Reading and was on display during the three-day event. BAHF is now searching for a replacement R4360 engine and the funds to acquire and install it. For more information about the organization and the project, check out the BAHF website and my Feburary 10, 2019 newspiece.
Rolling Boxcar Project – April 22, 2019 (Updated May 24, 2019)
A group of Alaskan enthusiasts has formed an organization with the ambitious goal of transforming a retired Fairchild C-119G "Flying Boxcar" into a self-propelled rolling display. They have appropriately named it the “Rolling Boxcar Project” and have set up a website and produced a short YouTube video summarizing the project. Here’s a short project summary from the website.
” We have acquired this Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar aircraft. We will be removing the wings, tails, engines, and landing gear, and then we will mount the fuselage on an International school bus chassis with a diesel engine and auto transmission. The cockpit will remain intact. Once it is mobile, and has been renovated with such upgrades as a new paint scheme, polished aluminum, and nose art, we will drive it to venues air shows, air races, fairs, VFWs, AMVETS, American Legions, VA hospitals and Veterans Day Parades as a traveling coffee bar and art gallery. We will be donating to other nonprofits that promote veterans and their service to our country.”
The project aircraft is former RCAF C-119G 22131 c/n 10956, which was acquired by Hawkins and Powers in the mid-1970s after RCAF retirement. The aircraft was registered N5216R and converted for firefighting as Tanker #136 with the addition of a jetpack on the top of the fuselage. There has been quite a bit of confusion over the true identity of the aircraft since its jet pod is marked #137 and former RCAF C-119G 22113 N3935 Tanker #139 c/n 10824 is on display at the Museum of Flight and Aerial Firefighting in Greybull, WY marked as N5216R Tanker #136. Ruud Leeuw did an excellent job at sorting through this mystery and presented the results on his excellent website. After being retired as a fire bomber, the aircraft was donated to the Battle Mountain Air Museum at the former air tanker base at Lander County Airport, Battle Mountain, Nevada in the early 1990s.
The group hopes to finish the project by fall of 2019 and foresees a maiden voyage happening in Alaska before touring the lower 48 states. The organization’s goals include:
“We would like to fashion our Rolling Boxcar after aircraft 51-2560 and tell the story of “Gamble Chalk One”, a plane that so many were lost in. We are researching the event and will contact the 435th Troop Carrier Wing of the USAF for more historical facts. Through this research we will develop static interpretive displays to help bring awareness to this terrible event. In addition, we will document the Rolling Boxcar's resurrection into a rolling attraction. The panels will be on display and the video can be used to promote veterans and the Military, particularly the United States Air Force, as well as for a documentary. The fuselage will don a new paint scheme, polished aluminum, appropriate banner, and even nose art. The usable parts of the wings, tails, engines, props, and landing gear will be sold, recycled, or repurposed to help fund the project. No scrap aluminum will be sent to recyclers but will be smelted by us.”
Promote the military and a piece of USAF history by telling how C-119s served the military during the Cold War era
Tell this particular aircraft's story, both in its Air Force days and in civilian life after retirement from military service
Honor all veterans who have served our country
Promote local artists, Alaskan ingenuity, the entrepreneurial spirit, repurpose, recycle, and sell parts to help fund the project. All aluminum not used to build the Rolling Boxcar (i.e. wings, tails, and tail booms), will be smelted down into aluminum ingots and made into jewelry.
This is not going to be an inexpensive project and the group is currently seeking funding for major expenses such as:
Dismantling and rebuilding the C-119, which will happen in the lower 48 and require the rental of equipment and tools
Acquisition of an 84-passenger school bus with a diesel engine and automatic transmission
Conversion of a Willys Jeep into a road-worthy pilot car
Film documentation of project
You can become a member of this organization and/or donate to the project by going to the website’s membership page.
Lufthansa Decides to Place Ju-52 in Museum – April 18, 2019
Lufthansa JU-52 D-AQUI “Tante Ju” was recently disassembled and moved to a hangar in Hamburg to await a final decision on its fate. Apparently the powers to be at Lufthansa have made their decision with the aircraft to be placed in a yet-to-be-determined museum, where it will be put on static display. A decision on a museum has yet to be made but should be forthcoming. The Ju-52 had been providing scenic rides to the public since the mid-80's and the airline said it was grounded due to continuing financial losses associated with the program. See my April 5th report below for additional information.
Lufthansa Ju-52 Headed to Hamburg – April 5, 2019
In January 2019 Lufthansa announced that it would be ending financial support for Junkers Ju-52 D-AQUI “Tante Ju” which put an end to 30+ years of flight operations. The aircraft, which was built in 1936, had been operated by Deutsche Lufthansa Berlin Stiftung (DLBS) for promotional flights since the mid-1980s. The decision to withdraw support follows the cancellation of the Auburn, Maine based Starliner restoration project in March 2018. Even though Lufthansa earned $3B in profits last year, it claims the decision was based on an effort to reduce the financial losses associated with the operation of this historic trimotor. The airline also claims that the crash of Ju-Air HB-HOT had no bearing on the decision. The decision to cancel both programs illustrates CEO Carsten Spohr's focus on the airline's bottom line rather than preserving its legacy.
In April 2019 Lufthansa announced that the aircraft would be disassembled and moved from Munich to Hamburg by road. Hopefully it will be reassembled and put on display and not stashed away in some warehouse, or even worse, in some outdoor storage compound.
Swiss Aviation Authority Bans Ju-52 Flights – April 5, 2019
In March 2019 the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) announced that it was banning Ju-52 operator Ju-Air from conducting commercial flights. In an odd twist, FOCA will still allow the organization to offer flights to club members. This decision was based on the results of an investigation involving Ju-Air Ju-52 HB-HOT in August 2018 resulting in the death of 20 crew and passengers. FOCA announced that it will continue to allow vintage aircraft to operate carrying passengers but those passengers must be members of the organization conducting the fights for at least 30 days and be fully briefed on the risks associated with taking such a flight.
The accident investigation found structural corrosion on Ju-Air’s remaining two aircraft and, while the corrosion was not related to the accident, the two aircraft were grounded. At this time it is not known when, or if, Ju-Air will resume Ju-52 flights.
S-2 Being Restored in Kansas as Firebomber – April 2, 2019
Gordon Cole recently sent me some photos of former Cal Fire S-2 (S2F-1) Tanker #95 N508JR. His friend Bill Garrison bought the aircraft in 2018 from the Cactus Air Force in Carson City, Nevada. The museum acquired the aircraft at auction some years ago at McClellan Airport, when Cal Fire retired its piston engine S2's in favor of turbine versions. (Note: Cal Fire currently operates a turbine-powered S-2 Tanker #95.) Bill enlisted the help of Gordon and Tim Coons to get the airplane ready for the ferry flight from Carson City to Kansas, which went off without a problem. Gordon reports that the aircraft is in very good condition with all systems working, including the dump system. The props ADs have been completed and new brakes have been installed. Maintenance and operations plans have been approved by the FAA and Bill plans to use the aircraft on a firefighting contract for the State of Kansas. Bill and his wife Bobbie own Ag Air Service Inc., which is an aerial application company based in Nickerson, Kansas.
Wreck Hunting in Curacao – April 2, 2019
Eric Teoh recently did some wreck hunting on the Lesser Antilles island of Curacao in the Caribbean and discovered the remains of a YS-11A. P4-YSA once flew for Air Aruba, but when the airline declared bankruptcy in 2000 the aircraft was abandoned on Curacao. Using information he found on the Atlas Obscura website, Eric located the aircraft. Eric reports…“I found this on the Atlas Obscura website but also did some poking around with Google Street View before driving over there. The location they give is a little north of the actual location (which is 12.091738, -68.900863). As you can see in the first image, it’s pretty obvious when you drive by and is easily visible on Google Street View. It’s on private property, but seems completely abandoned. I parked by the tail and entered through the attached (and incomplete) building.”
The aircraft was delivered to All Nippon Airways in December 1969 as JA8780 and flew with the airline until being sold in the U.S. to Trans Central Airlines as N904TC in April 1983. It was sold to Simmons Airlines in July 1984 and finally to Air Aruba in September 1988. After Air Aruba declared bankruptcy in 2000, the wings, empennage and engines were removed and it was acquired by the Breezes Resort. The aircraft was moved to its current location, where the plan was to make it a restaurant. Obviously that never happened and over the years the aircraft deteriorated into its current derelict condition. I’ve also included Thomas Posch’s February 2006 photo of the aircraft in Air Curacao titles at presumably the same location. For more information, check out the Atlas Obscura website. Many thanks to Eric for providing the report and photos.
End of the Road for St. Maarten YS-11 – April 2, 2019
As reported February 10, 2019 on this website, YS-11A PJ-WIJ miraculously survived Hurricane Irma but it now appears that its days as a restaurant are over. Phil Brooks visited St. Maarten in March 2019 and forwarded the following report. ”Yesterday, we took a catamaran cruise around the island that originated in Philipsburg. Of course, my head was on a swivel during the drive from our hotel in the Maho Beach area looking for the famous YS-11. Little did I know, it would be found right next to the tour operator’s office! I was told by members of the crew that the plan is to dump it offshore from the Sunset Bar and Grill, on Maho Beach, to make it an artificial reef, for divers (and fish) to enjoy. I’d never seen it “open” as a business, and I guess now, I never will! I do recall seeing it at the airport in the early 90s, beautifully painted up in Winair colors.”
As noted by Phil, the YS-11A was operated by Winair but did not work out well with the airline. PJ-WIK was the 25th YS-11 produced and was delivered to All Nippon Airways in July 1966. It arrived in St. Maarten on November 24, 1990 and entered service with Winair a week later on December 1, 1990. Winair experience with the aircraft was nothing short of a disaster with the aircraft being grounded, due to mechanical problems, for most of the first half of 1991. It became a static fixture at St Maarten’s Princess Juliana Airport (SXM) until it was stripped of useful spares and moved by barge from the airport to Phillipsburg some time during the later part of 1999. First noted as a restaurant in February 2000, the fuselage fronts the restaurant building and serves as an entry way to it. Tables are set inside the aircraft but these are not normally used due to the lack of air conditioning. The adjoining building was totally destroyed by the hurricane.
Many thanks to Phil for his report and photos.
Reassembly Continues on AMC Museum C-119B – March 3, 2019
The reassembly of C-119B 48-0352 continues at the Air Mobility Command (AMC) Museum at Dover AFB in Delaware. Mike Leister visited the museum on March 1, 2019 and forwarded photographs of the aircraft, which is being reassembled by a crew from Worldwide Aircraft Recovery. This historically significant aircraft was stored at Edwards AFB for many years and was just days away from being sold as scrap metal when it was rescued by the AMC Museum. The museum is looking to acquire a treadway bridge section to include in the display of the aircraft once the restoration is complete. If you know where one can be found, please contact museum director John Taylor at (302) 677-5942 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the restoration effort and history of the aircraft, check out my article on this website.
St. Maarten YS-11 Survived Hurricane Irma – February 10, 2019
Former Winair YS-11A PJ-WIK has been a fixture for many years on a small plot of land on the outskirts of Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. Painted in Heineken colors, its fuselage served as the centerpiece of a small restaurant and, while the restaurant building attached to it was totally destroyed by Hurricane Irma’s 200 mph winds, the fuselage amazingly managed to escape serious damage. When I photographed the airplane in January 2018, the restaurant site appeared abandoned. Much of St. Maarten is being rebuilt and hopefully the restaurant will be rebuilt and the island’s famous “Heineken YS-11” will live on.
BAHF C-97G “Angel of Deliverance” Update – February 10, 2019
In 2012 Hurricane Sandy caused considerable damage to the hangar at Floyd Bennett Field that had been home to the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation’s (BAHF) two aircraft, C-54E “Spirit of Freedom” and the C-97G “Angel of Deliverance.” Faced with the need to vacate Floyd Bennett Field, the airworthy C-54E departed post haste but the C-97G was undergoing restoration and it would be five years before the aircraft was airworthy and able to depart. On November 8, 2017 C-97G N117GA made the short flight to BAHF’s home base at Ocean County Airport in Toms River, New Jersey. After a brief stay, it departed later that same day for Reading Regional Airport in Pennsylvania, where it would remain for the next 12 months.
Phase I of BAHF’s C-97 project involved getting the aircraft out of Floyd Bennett Field. With this now accomplished it was time to move onto Phase II, which had the stated goal of enhancing the organization’s operational experience in the aircraft. Phase II objectives included selecting and training flight crewmembers; updating procedures based on lessons-learned from Phase I; installing an updated crew intercom system; cleaning the airplane for public display; correcting maintenance discrepancies found during Phase I; and initiating local training flights to build operational experience.
Reading Regional Airport is home to the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum (MAAM) and, while the move there was a temporary solution, it allowed Tim Chopp and his volunteer force to begin Phase II by performing necessary maintenance on the aircraft. During its stay in Reading, a new intercom system and rear ballast tanks had been installed. The ballast tanks eliminated the need to secure weighted barrels in the rear of the aircraft to maintain proper weight and balance. In addition, maintenance issues identified during the November 2017 flight to Reading had been addressed and corrected. It also allowed BAHF to debut the aircraft at the museum’s annual World War II Weekend event in June 2018.
On November 20, 2018, “Angel of Deliverance” was flown from Reading to Hagerstown Regional Airport in Maryland, which is home to the Hagerstown Aviation Museum (HAM). Two successful local training flights were conducted on November 30, 2018 with BAHF Vice President Kevin Kearny proclaiming afterwards that “things are beginning to come together.” After completing the flights, the C-97G was parked alongside HAMs C-82 and C-119 for the winter. The plan is to have the aircraft open to the public during the museum’s first Open Airplane Afternoon on May 5, 2019. The Hagerstown Aviation Museum posted a very nice YouTube video of the November 30th training flight.
A bit of history on the aircraft….It was delivered to SAC on April 27, 1954 as KC-97G 52-2718 and served at a number of SAC bases before being transferred to the Wisconsin Air National Guard in August 1964. A year later it was converted to a KC-97L with the installation of two underwing J-47 engines. Retired by the military in 1976 she was flown to Davis Monthan AFB for storage. Acquired at auction in 1986, the aircraft was converted to a C-97G by removing the aerial refueling equipment and J-47 engines along with the installation of rear clamshell cargo doors. Grace Air purchased the aircraft in 1988 and used it on humanitarian missions to South America and to haul fish in Alaska during the summer. After being stored for a time at Moses Lake, Washington, BAHF purchased the aircraft in April 1996 and ferried it to Greybull, Wyoming for inspection and maintenance. Painted in the colors of YC-97A 45-59595 and named “Angel of Deliverance” the big Boeing set out for Floyd Bennett Field in July 2001 but only got as far as Aberdeen, South Dakota, where the #3 engine failed. With a replacement engine installed, the aircraft was flown to Millville, New Jersey in November 2001 but it would be six months before the final leg could be made to Floyd Bennett Field due to airspace restrictions as the result of the 9/11 attacks. The flight to Floyd Bennett Field was made on May 10, 2002 and the aircraft would call the field home for the next 15 years.
BAHF is a tax-exempt charitable non-profit 501c3 corporation that exists on public support. It costs lots of money to maintain and operate the foundation's Douglas C-54E and Boeing C-97G and they need your financial support to survive. For additional information about BAHF and how to contribute to this worthy cause, check out the organization’s website.
Boneyard KC-97G Becomes Centerpiece at Cleveland‘s I-X Center – February 10, 2019
A piece of Ohio aviation history made its debut at Cleveland’s International Exposition (I-X) Center on March 16, 2018 when it was featured at the Summit Racing Equipment I-X Piston Powered Auto-Rama. The building housing the I-X Center was constructed during WWII to manufacture parts for the B-29 bomber and the owners wanted a B-29 for display at the center. Unsuccessful in their search for a B-29, they found the next best thing…a nearly intact KC-97G in a Tucson boneyard. The Cold War era C-97 was a direct descendant of the B-29 with a total of 888 being produced by Boeing Aircraft. Most were KC-97 refueling tankers that were gradually replaced by jet powered KC-135s starting in 1956. Relegated to either Davis Monthan AFB for storage or to Reserve and Air National Guard units, they served until 1978 when the last aircraft was retired. The I-X Center’s aircraft is KC-97G 52-2604, which was the last C-97 stored in any of the scrapyards surrounding Davis Monthan AFB.
A small team of mechanics led by William “Tex” Powell spent four months at the Aircraft Restoration and Marketing (ARM) scrapyard in Tucson disassembling the aircraft. By June 2017, the aircraft had been disassembled and was loaded onto six flatbed trucks for the long roadtrip to Cleveland. Reassembly took 3 ½ weeks and no major problems were encountered. What really helped was that the crew was now familiar with the airplane and it was essentially whole and in very good condition. The refueling tanks, which were located in the main cabin, were removed but most of the other original equipment was retained.
Now that the aircraft had been reassembled, it was time to remove 40+ years of oxidation and desert grime. Industrial artist Mike Ensminger of Iron Image Design spent several months cleaning and polishing the aircraft’s exterior and the results are truly stunning. Once all the dirt and oxidation had been removed, original Ohio Air National Guard markings emerged on the fuselage.
Mike will also oversee conversion of the aircraft into a 50-seat restaurant, which is expected to open on the south side of the center in 2020. The project is expected to cost about $1.1M when completed and will double the number of KC-97 restaurants in the United States. KC-97L 52-0283 has been the centerpiece of the 275-seat Airplane Restaurant in Colorado Springs since 2002. While the main restaurant is in an attached building, patrons of the restaurant have the option of dining in the airplane.
----Created 10 February 2019------Updated 29 May 2020----