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 went to 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. If a single wheel C-119 or C-82 nose landing gear assembly can be found, it will be retrofitted as well. The airplane has R3350 engines instead of the original R4360s, but an engine switch will probably not happen...at least not right away. Finding appropriate R-4360 engines and engine cowlings will be difficult, if not impossible. 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 Travis 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 email@example.com.
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 17 November 2019----