Propliners in Alaska, 1995


Page +2+
Photos © Ruud Leeuw

This is page 2 of my Alaska 1995 account, on the trail of propliners
For those unfamiliar with the term "propliners": they are the multi-engined transports, driven by piston-pumping radial engines, turning 3- or 4-bladed propellors.
This is how these engines work: Inside a Radial Engine
For myself, I stretch the term "propliners" also to the early generation of turbine-driven transports, such as the Lockheed Hercules and the Lockheed Electra, to name but a few.


My favourite aircraft: the Curtiss C-46 Commando ! It's here in form and shape of N54584 (cn22318) of Everts Air Fuel, at Fairbanks, it's homebase. Well, on the dump, that is... It's still in JASDF colourscheme here.
It was delivered Jun45 to USAAF with serial 44-78495 and 10 years later, 16Jan55, sold to the Japanese Self Defense Air Force (JASDF). In 1976 it was returned to the US Government, which sold it to Wayne Craft / United Commercial Sales on 01Jun78. But all this time, this C-46 (with Japanese AF serial 51-1114), remained at Miho Air Base in Japan. Thru Alaska Rental & Sales it ended up with Cliff R.Everts, who registered it on 28Jul78.
His son, Robert Everts, started Air Cargo Express and signed this C-46 to his company. And while this C-46D was still reported in 2002 as being stored, a restoration project is on its way and it should be operational in 2003 !
My pages on my year 2003 visit has the result of its restoration.


A sad sight, derelict like this.... This is C-46A N4860V (cn30240) and in the storage yard for spares supply to the fleet of C-46s Everts Air Fuel operates. Or, as it turned out, for money to be made of sales of parts.
Interior Airways was the airlift contractor, flying DC-4s and DC-3s from and to Fairbanks, for the DEW-line construction. The aircraft has also "Fairbanks Air"-titles rougly painted on, that name is not familiar to me.
Interior Airways begat (1972) Alaska International Air (flying Hercules 4-engined transports) and by merger with Great Northern Airlines became Mark Air (1984). Jim Magoffin, who founded Interior Airways in 1946, wrote a book about his life in aviation: 'Triumph over Turbulence' and is an excellent source to read about these airlines and aviation in Alaska.

During 2003 I could see for myself that N4860V was still with us: Stored at Fairbanks, 2003

Parts of the tailsection of this C-46 has probably been used to repair damage on Buffalo Airways' C-46 C-FAVO.
This might be a good opportunity to review the C-46's still around in Alaska, details provided by Jerry Vernon in Nov.2009:
Everts Air Fuel have a number of C-46s registered to them, but only a few actually flying, while the rest are hulks sitting in their storage yard.
The USCAR currently carries the following C-46s:

  • C-46..............8
  • C-46A............17
  • C-46/CW-20-T..0
  • C-46D............6
  • C-46F............32
  • C-46R............5

    68 aircraft in all, but a lot of those seem to be just taking up space on the list and may or may not even still exist. Of these, there are 10 registered to Alaska addresses and 7 registered to Everts Air Fuel under one name or another.

    The following are registered to Everts Air Fuel:
  • N801FA C-46F Reg to Everets Air Fuel Inc.(sic)
  • N1651M C-46F Reg. to Everts Air Fuel Inc.
  • N1663M C-46F Reg. to Everts Air Fuel Inc.
  • N1822M C-46F Reg. to Everts Air Fuel Inc.
  • N1837M C-46F Reg. to Everts Air Fuel Inc.
  • N4860V C-46A Reg. to Clifford R. Everst(sic)
  • N54584 C-46 Reg. to Everts Air Fuel Inc.(see w/e 06 Nov 09) Also:
  • N23AC C-46F Reg. to Tatonduk Outfitters Ltd.(dba Everts Air Cargo)
  • N7848B C-46R Reg. to Tatonduk Outfitters Ltd.(dba Everts Air Cargo)
  • N54514 C-46D Reg. to Tatonduk Outfitters Ltd.(dba Everts Air Cargo)

    Notes;
    N801FA is a wingless stripped derelict hulk, ex-Nordair CF-NAU. Has been there since 1989. See the 2016 update on and its relation to N1837M!
    N1651M was still fairly intact in 2008, but missing an engine, fin, rudder, etc. and being stripped for parts.
    N1663M was badly damaged by a mini-tornado at Laredo, TX in 2003. Everts cut it up into pieces and moved the pieces to their storage yard at Fairbanks. (See it photographed in 1972 by Francis Blake).
    N1822M is actively flying as 'Salmon Ella', flying as a bulk fuel tanker.
    N1837M is actively flying as 'Hot Stuff', flying as a bulk fuel tanker.
    N4860V is a stripped ex-Nordair derelict hulk. In 2005 it had wings but no fin, rudder, tailplane or elevators. There are 2 photos on the Internet, one dated May 2009, of a chunk of damaged C-46 rear fuselage, painted as N4860V, in the Buffalo Airways scrapyard at Hay River and a 2007 photo of N4860V at Fairbanks showing the entire rear fuselage, aft of the cargo door, had been cut off and removed!! The fuselage was intact in the 2005 photos.
    N54584 appeared on the FAA w/e 06 Nov 09 list. Fairly recent photos show it as a wingless spare parts hulk. Perhaps Everts was simply registering it in his name to satisfy FAA, although it has been registered to another company he owns since 1978. Ex-JSDAF.
    The other three turn out to have a similar company name, but are not (quite) the same company as Everts Air Fuel.
    Several more C-46s are registered to Tatonduk Outfitters Ltd., but are actively flying with the titles "Everts Air Cargo". Tatonduk Outfitters Ltd. is d/b/a Everts Air Alaska and Everts Air Cargo. Tatonduk Outfitters is owned by Robert Everts, son of Cliff Everts, and is the parent company of the other two companies.
    N23AC remained in storage at Fairbanks. Still quite intact, with an engine missing on one side and the prop missing on the other side. Its full history is detailed on FAIRBANKS 2003 and when it moved to Israel on FAIRBANKS REVISITED 2012.
    N7848B flies with Everts Air Cargo titles as 'Dumbo'.
    N54514 flies with Everts Air Cargo titles as 'Maid in Japan'.
    Thank you Jerry!

  • Remember the C-7 N700NC on Page 1 ? This here C-7B "'Bou" N2225C (cn215), while sitting in 1995 in the dump area of Fairbanks, replaced N702SC after its crash. It seems South Central Air and Greatland Air Cargo had something to do with each other, as N2225C was reported operating for both of them. N2225C was current on the FAA Registry in Dec.2002 for Greatland Air Cargo (reg'd 24Apr2000), but read on for the crash details on this aircraft !
    It's previous USAF serial was 63-9754 and it was stored at Davis Monthan/MASDC in Nov 1983 as CM0010. Everts Air Fuel brought it to Alaska and operated it briefly both as a tanker (it had a 1000 gal. aluminum tank) and as a freighter. It was leased from a company in Canada and when Everts decided to discontinue the lease, the Canadians sold it to Greatland Air Cargo in Anchorage and was painted in an overall grey finish.
    Unfortunately, this Caribou too, was involved in an accident; it happened at Port Alsworth,AK (29Aug01):

    The crew was landing a short takeoff and landing (STOL) cargo airplane on a private, dirt and gravel surface runway. The airplane was configured for landing with 40 degrees of flaps. During the approach, variations in indicated airspeed and ground speed indicated windshear conditions. About 100 to 200 feet above the ground, the airplane encountered a downdraft and began to drift to the right of the runway centerline. The captain increased engine power and applied full left aileron and rudder, but could not gain directional or pitch control of the airplane. The right wing struck trees, short of the runway threshold, increasing the airplane's right yaw. The captain pulled the engine throttles off. The airplane struck the ground with the right main landing gear and right front portion of the fuselage. The airplane then pivoted to the right, 180 degrees from the approach heading.
    The airport owner reported that wind conditions from the east may produce downdrafts in the area of runway 05. He indicated that at the time of the accident, the wind was blowing easterly about 15 knots. The first officer reported the captain appeared to be attempting to maintain a stabilized approach angle by varying the pitch attitude of the airplane. Company training literature revealed that the airplane is sensitive to slight wind shear, and wind gusts as low as 5 knots when operating at low airspeeds. Pilots are cautioned that when flying the aircraft at low speeds, a large application of the aileron control may be required to maintain wings level. During gusty wind conditions, the threshold airspeed should be increased by one-half the gust factor, and any lateral displacement should be corrected rapidly. If a wing is allowed to drop beyond corrective action of full aileron, power should be increased immediately to regain level flight. Injuries: 2, Minor.



    The following info was provided by Kim O'Meara: "Jim O’Meara and I sold Greatland Air Cargo and all of its assets, including N2225C, in March 2000. The new owner, Tom Rettler, operated the business for about a year and a half until N2225C was wrecked in Port Alsworth, Alaska, August 2001. Greatland Air Cargo subsequently folded operations later that year and Mr. Rettler moved back to Wisconsin. There are no other Caribou aircraft being operated in Alaska.
    We started Public Service Aircraft, Inc.which operates one DHC-5 Buffalo aircraft, N37AU, for “public use” (meaning we only fly for government entities) out of Anchorage International Airport. We own the company and you can learn all about the aircraft and company at www.publicserviceaircraft.com. Jim and I spend the majority of our time operating our other business, Greatland Laser. Greatland Laser (www.greatlandlaser.com) manufacturers laser signaling devices and have developed laser products for airport lighting, maritime lighting and industrial lighting applications."

    Thanks Kim !
    (Dec.2002).

    Antti Hyvärinen (Finland) sent me this update:"I actually saw the crashed Caribou at Port Alsworth 31Jun02 (N2225C). It is a total write off and scrapped by now. I was on a flight in NAC´s DC-6 to Port Alsworth and back when I saw it. We took the engines and some flight controls for the return flight and I was told that the rest of the remains were to be scrapped into small piecies and flown away for melting. It was near the runway with wings and tail cut off. The nose looked very bad as it had hit the ground."
    Thanks Antti ! (Dec.2002).

    The extend of the damage was further described to me as: "Cockpit of N2225C was completely destroyed during the crash at Port Alsworth. The nose gear wrapped through the bottom and ended up behind the right seat. The nose was completely torn off and the entire hull was wrinkled to no end."
    (Jan.2004).
    The Caribou was operating in a straight grey colourscheme at the time of the crash. In July 2002 the remains arrived from Alaska at WestCan Aircraft of Kamloops,BC. Only the engines, main gear, wings, flaps and tail were salvaged. The owner said he left the fuselage on-site for the locals to use as a shed and he stated the nose was severely damaged. Antti Hyvärinen sent me a photograph, look here.


    N12347 This Douglas DC-6A, N34955 (c/n 44071, line nbr 401), was delivered to the famous Flying Tiger Line on 01Sep53 and served for 3 years until Northwest Orient Airlines started using it (thru a lease agreement) from 1956 until 1961. Zantop Air Transport bought it on 16Sep61 and Saturn Airways became the new owner on 17Jun66.
    Associates Capital Corporation purchased it on 30Jun70 and next was Florida Aircraft Leasing on 14Aug70. In November that year it was reregistered as TI-1079C for TAISA.
    Onyx Aviation bought it on 04Jul75 and Sis-Q Flying Service made an airtanker out of it after buying it in Aug75; tanker number "51" was assigned to it and it was reregistered as N777SQ on 19Aug75. PJ&CB leased it from 13Dec77, which lasted until 11Apr78. Misty Air became the new owner on 08Nov79.
    Its present tailnumber,N12347, was assigned for Misty Air on 05Apr80, Intak leased it in Sep80 and MaTomCo bought it in Aug81. Next was Aerolaska with a purchase in Aug.1983 and sold it again to Northern Pacific Transport in Sep86; but the First National Bank of Anchorage repossessed it in Aug92.
    Everts Air Fuel bought it in Oct92 and stored it at Fairbanks.

    Photo (c) Juergen Scherbath 1991
    N12347 as seen by Juergen Scherbarth at Anchorage Jul91, in better days !
    It was operating for Northern Pacific Transport in those days.

    Marty Hall of Everts Air Cargo volunteered me the following information:
    "When I worked for Sis-Q Flying Service, I helped to convert that plane to a fire bomber and the next I saw of it MaTomCo Fuels had it here in Fairbanks as a bulk fuel tanker. It next went to Woods or the Ball Bro's in ANC, then came back for Alaska Aerofuels. It sat derelict for a number years in ANC (again!) until we bought it for parts. There were a number of stories going around about this plane. One has it flying to Miami from either Mexico or some place south of there and arriving with only one crew member (the Capt.) having departed with 3, and bullet holes from the inside going out. After sitting in Miami for a while, one night two people showed up, kicked the chocks out, climbed in and the plane departed. The line boy there watched all this happen and felt it was not the wisest thing to do to challenge whoever they were ( strange things happened at night in Miami ! ). The next anyone knew about it, it was sitting in a hanger at Moses' Lake. Then it came to Fairbanks."
    Thanks Marty !

    Update: It (the fuselage) was sold to someone in Fairbanks who was going to make a house of it !! I found a photo of it on http://flickr.com/photos/alaska65n/55606629/
    Here are photos from its actual transport in 2003: www.cysewski.com/photo/wandering2003/DC6/.



    An original Douglas DC-6, N666SQ (cn 43004/40) as another resident of the storage dump at Fairbanks.
    It was delivered to United Air Lines in 1947 with tailnumber N37515 and named "Mainliner Rhode Island". Mars Aviation bought it in Oct.1968, but United repossessed it a few months later. In Feb69 it was assigned to Frank V Amaral, but the next year it was bought by Florida Aircraft Leasing. It changed hands again, 2 years later, when Rosenbalm Aviation Inc bought it.
    Tailnumber N666SQ was assigned to it when Sis-Q Flying Service Inc bought it on 28Jan74; this did not last long: Macavia Int'l Corp. bought it in May 1985. N666SQ was stored without much use in Sta.Rosa, California before T&G Aviation Inc. bought it in Feb 1991. Like it had a disease or something: only 2 years later it was sold again, to Pacific Harbor Capital Inc. Barron Thomas Aviation took care of that year, Nov.1993, but not for long... Everts Air Fuel bought it in Feb 1994, only to store it at Fairbanks. Considering the moving about and the long storage, it does not look half bad, does it ?!

    See also my page Stored at Fairbanks 2003



    Parked near the dumpsite, but not stored at all, was this N351CE (C-118A c/n 44599/505) of Air Cargo Express.
    As from 01May96 Everts Air Fuel only hauls fuel, while all cargo is flown by Air Cargo Express. ACE is a "d.b.a." of Tatonduk Outfitters Inc, which was started by Clifford "Cliff" Everts son, Robert W.Everts in 1994 with 3 DC-6s (N351CE, N555SQ and N888DG).
    The history of this airframe is rather brief: delivered to the USAAF as C-118A 53-3228 on 14Sep54, its service life ended in the desert of Arizona when it was stored in Jun75.
    But the US Navy started using it the next year (Bu.No.533228) until Aug.1981, when it was returned to the US Air Force.
    John Benton added to this: "it was last operated by VR-52 Willow Grove").
    There was no permanent retirement, as Everts Air Fuel bought it in Mar89.
    In 1995 it was transferred to Air Cargo Express, by which time I ran into it.
    I found the DC-6 / C-118 designation confusing and Marty Hall (of Everts Air Cargo/Fairbanks, but also the FAA Designated Engineering Representative -DER-) came to the rescue with the following explanation:
    "ex-Navy and Air Force C-118's are not the same as DC-6A's. The Type Certificate says they are "most like" a DC-6A, but not the same.
    The Navy R6D became the C-118B which I had to certificate as C-118A's only because the B wasn't listed on the Type certificate.
    Of course, there were some Air Force A-models which the Navy operated as B-models, which I certificated as A models. There really wasn't much difference between the two; the A or B designation only meant who was operating the plane (resp. Air Force or Navy). However, going back to the beginning when they were C-118A's and R6D's, there was some difference in radios and passenger comfort items.
    Towards the very end of the Navy Reserve operation of originally Air Force operated C-118's, they didn't redesignate them as B's or give a Navy Buno. N351CE is an example of that. It was originally an U.S.A.F. plane that the Navy knew they were only going to operate for less than 2 years, so it flew for the Navy with the A designation and the Air Force serial number! While N251CE is the other example: the Navy knew they were going to operate her for a number of years so she got the Navy Buno of 153693 and the B designation...."



    Douglas C-118B N251CE (c/n 44612/532) is seen here on the Everts Air Fuel ramp in August of 1995 with (U.S. Air) Force titles clearly visible. Two years later it was flying around with "Air Cargo Express"-titles (it sure could use some paint..). I have another photo on Check Six !
    This airframe was initially delivered to the US Air Force with serial 53-3241 on 10Dec54 and transferred to the US Navy over 10 years later, 08May65 (assigned Bu.No.153693). It was bought by Everts Air Fuel on Dec.1985 and registered as N251CE; it was bought again by Tatonduk Outfitters 26Aug96 and leased to Air Cargo Express that same date. But that's all in the family...
    For background info on the Douglas DC-6 and various versions, click here
    See also above, with N351CE, a clarification on type designation C-118A/B.


    Taking the road around the airport, I came across this C-47A N59314 (cn12363) of Frontier Flying Service. Apparently this DC-3 was too large in size for its operation (commuter services on intra-Alaska routes).
    It was sold, but the person who bought it, "bought it" in another DC-3 of his :

    "DC-3 (N19454) departed an island runway during dark night, VFR conditions without filing a flight plan. The airplane collided with a volcanic mountain at 1,500 feet msl on the runway heading, 4.5 miles from the airport. Earlier in the day, the airplane arrived from Anchorage, Alaska, without a flight plan, having flown along the Alaska Peninsula when VFR flight was not recommended. The crew of the airplane initially planned to remain overnight on the peninsula, but the captain was requested to transport cargo to Anchorage. The airplane was loaded with cargo and fuel, and departed. The crew did not file a flight plan. Forty-five minutes after departure, a fire was spotted on the side of a volcano cone, and an ELT signal was detected in the area.
    No company flight following procedures were found for the accident flight, and the airplane was not reported overdue until the following day. The captain was the president, the director of operations, and the sole corporate entity of the company. No current maintenance records, flight logs, or pilot logs were located for the company. In the past, the captain's pilot certificate was suspended for 45 days following an accident in a DC-3 airplane when he ran out of gas. Also, the captain's medical certificate had previously been considered for denial after serving 49 months in federal prison for cocaine distribution, but after review, the FAA issued the captain a first class medical. The first officer's medical had also been considered for denial after an episode of a loss of consciousness. After a lengthy review and an appeal to the NTSB, the FAA issued the first officer a second-class medical. The first officer was part of the flight crew when the captain ran out of gas, and she had two previous aviation accidents. A toxicological examination of the captain, conducted by the FAA, found cocaine or metabolites of cocaine. A toxicological examination of the first officer found two different prescription antidepressant drugs."


    Date: January 23, 2001 at Unalaska, AK; Injuries: 2 Fatal; Air Taxi & Commuter Galaxy Air Cargo Inc. (D.B.A. Majestic Air Cargo).
    But that was another DC-3... N59314 was sold to Tom Abbe, a former Galaxy Air engineer (Galaxy folded) and DC-3 fan; he reg'd N59314 on 24Sep01 for Abbe Air Cargo (based at Palmer,AK). Unfortunately, the insurance premiums proved too high to make a commercial enterprise a success and it was soon offered for sale. More on N59314 on my page Alaska 2003


    The Curtiss C-46 Commando is not as cute as the C-47, and that's probably why I like it better...! I guess you need fire hoses on a ramp of fuel haulers; in the backgrounds stands N251CE parked.
    The C-46s of Everts Air Fuel carry names, N1822M is named "Salmon Ella"; I think it's great, there is not enough humor in this business.
    Msn 22521 was delivered to the USAAF in Aug.1945 as 44-78698 and leased to Argonaut Airways in 1950 with tailnumber N1822M (purchase took place on 01Nov54). Via owners A.G.Thomson Jr (Reg'd 04Jan56), L.B.Smith Corporation (Reg'd 26May59), Aero Enterprises (Reg'd 13Jul59), Aviation Credit Corp. (Reg'd 16Feb60), L.B.Smith again ((29Feb60), Exec. Business Transport (Reg'd 07Apr60) it ended up in Alaska with Reeve Aleutian Aws on 06May63.
    This C-46F was registered to Clifford R.Everts on 22Jul1986.
    For background info on the Curtiss C-46, click here or go to more C-46 photos in Alaska

    Martin Prince Jr sent me a photo, showing it in continued service in Nov.2008, see HERE..

    N1822M still doing great in 2016, as can be seen on this external link:
    elbows-aviation-shots.co.uk/..N1822M.JPG

    Here is a March 2017 photo by Martin Jr 'JoeJoe' Prince, of N1822M at Bethel,AK still going strong:
    C-46 N1822M Everts Fuel, at Bethel
    JoeJoe wrote on 07Mar17: "A couple days ago in Bethel Alaska, hauling diesel to Pilot Station."
    See JoeJoe's gallery on my website HERE and HERE


    Not many of those around anymore: Fairchild C-119 "Flying Boxcar". This one is listed to Everts Air Fuel, N8504Z (cn 11253) and probably hasn't flown since 1994 or so. It carries, in red, "Know Fear'-titles on the front fuselage. Now what story could hide behind that ?

    The C-119, also nick-named "The Twin-boomed Flying Spam Can", was produced between 1948 and 1953 (in total 1.051 produced) and saw service in many variants with the US Air Force, Navy & Marine Corps (and armed forces of countries like Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, India, Taiwan & South Vietnam). It was a real workhorse and provided services like satellite surveillance, medevac, glider tug and airdrop. It saw service by Americans over the Plain of Jars in Indo-China, supporting the besieged French forces and saw service in Vietnam including use by Special Forces. The clamshell doors could be removed, but this provided an additional racket (it was noisy as it was...) and a considerable higher fuel consumption.
    My friend Chuck Lunsford wrote a book on his days as a Radio Operator on the C-119 during the late-1950s and a revised edition was published recently (Dec.2002).
    Chuck Lunsford wrote a book about his days as a radio operator onboard the C-119:
    Click here "Departure Message"

    He also wrote a novel, featuring the C-119 Flying Boxcar, called "Boxcar Down, the Albanian Incident" Click here

    Both books can be bought through Amazon.com

    Another writer, Larry E. Fletcher (ex USAF Captain), used his personal experience to write a novel about the C-119 Gunship in Vietnam: "Shadows of Saigon, Air Commandos in SE Asia".


    Douglas DC-6B N4390F (cn 44898/674) on overhaul; maintenance on these aircraft is a time-consuming affair. Below the cockpit is written: "1.000.000 GAL to RED DOG 3-5-95.

    Sadly, this "Six" is no longer around...
    It happened on Wednesday, January 31, 2001 at Crooked Creek,AK:

    "The purpose of the flight was to deliver about 4,800 gallons of fuel oil to the remote mining site. The 5,400 feet long by 100 feet wide airstrip was situated within hilly, snow-covered terrain. The airstrip has a 7 percent uphill grade. Flat light conditions existed at the airstrip, and light snow showers were present, with visibility reported at 2 miles. The captain stated that during final approach, as the airplane passed over the airstrip threshold, flat light conditions made it very difficult to discern where the airstrip surface was. He said that the initial touch down was "firm", but was thought to be within acceptable tolerances. Just after touchdown, the left wing broke free from the airplane at the wing to fuselage attach point. The airplane veered to the left, and off the left side of the runway. The captain said that the airplane's computed landing weight was 92,260 pounds.No fatalities, no injuries."
    The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows: the flight crew's misjudged flare while landing. Factors associated with the accident were flat light conditions, snow-covered terrain, and an uphill runway grade.


    This airframe was delivered to United Air Lines as N37574 on 20Apr56 and named "Mainliner Baltimore". In 1969 it went to Hall Transfer and Storage with the obvious as a result: stored, useless. In Apr76 Sis-Q Flying Service came around and registered it as N333SQ ("tanker 54"). It went to Europe, France to be precise for the Securité Civile in Aug80 and was reregistered as F-ZBAC, "tanker 61". In 1990 it was stored again, but only untill 1992 when Everts Air Fuel bought it and registered it as N4390F.

    Photo of N4390F in its sad, derelict state can be found here.


    N1365N is a Boeing C-97G (cn16729) of Hawkins & Powers (H&P), Greybull,WY. It's seen here at Ft.Wainwright, on station for air tanker duties. It's the only remaining airworthy Stratofreighter in commercial use. The flat country in Alaska suits this heavy airtanker very well. For some reason it was reregistered to H&P on 26Jun2002, but it has been with H&P since (at least) 1989, when it was taken over from Hemet Valley Flying Service.
    On my next visit to Alaska, in 2003, I came across it once more.

    This Stratofreighter (military variant of the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser) was delivered to the USAF with serial 52-2698, as a KC-97G aerial refueler, and later modified to KC-97L; the tailboom used for refueling has been removed.
    The B-29 was big, but by adding a larger diameter fuselage from a B-50 to the top, the whale-shaped C-97 was created. It all sounds so simple... The first flight of the prototype was on 15Nov44 and on 09Jan45 it flew non-stop from Seattle to Washington,D.C.with a payload of 10 tons ! Up until then, a similar trip for a cargo of that size took 3 days ! Boeing had been working on the idea of aerial refueling as early as 1929. The "flying boom" that was attached to the C-97, is still in use on other aircraft to this day.
    Amazingly, the C-97 flew faster than the B-29; with its crew of 5 to 7, it had a cruising speed of 350 mph (560 kmh), a ceiling of 30.000 ft and a range of 4.300 miles (6.880 kms). The production (in many variants) ran from 1943 through 1953 and 888 in total were produced.



    On Aug.10th we had a look at Kenai and among the propliners present there was N620NA, a DC-6A (cn44677/527). It's probably on standby for a fishcharter, to bring freshly caught fish to the factories (fishing, both commercial as well as the salmon fishing done by tourists, is a major industry in Alaska). It's operated by Nord Star.

    This Six was delivered on 26Nov54 to the famous Flying Tiger Line as N34953, but was probably involved in a trade, as it was registered to Lockheed Aircraft Corp. on 30Apr56; however, that same date show a lease to Flying Tigers, so it continued to earn its keep there. Two years later it was sub-leased by US Overseas Airlines and even reregistered N401US for that purpose.

    While ownership was changed to the Trans-Pacific Investment Company (22Jan60), it continued with US Overseas Airlines; in fact, they decided to buy it (30Aug61). Ownership crossed the border to Canada, to Nordair as CF-NAB on 26Dec63; this lasted less than 2 years, as it was registered N620NA again for Aaxico Airlines on 04Jan65. By merger it joined the ranks of Saturn Airways in 1965. This lasted untill 1970, when Associates Capital Corporation took control, quickly followed by a familiar name: Florida Aircraft Leasing (bought 08Jan71).
    N620NA went thru many leases, such as: Trans Nusantara Aws (Feb.1971), Angkasa Civil Airtransport (May71-Oct71), A-A Airfreight Leasing (Dec71-May74). It was bought by another leasing company, Int'l Aircraft Sales & Leasing, on 01Nov74. Air Haiti leased it for 2 months in 1976, Pan African Airlines did the same later that year, Trinidad & Tobago Air Services followed in Sep77. Ownership changed to Air Shipping Int'l Co. on 13Oct78, while Int'l Freight & Trailers leased it that year. N620NA entered the 1980s with ownership changing to Transamerican Aviation Service (Sep81); it had become pretty obscure by then...
    Transamerican reregistered N620NA to N32RU, but the aircraft was seized by the US Customs in August 1983. I have no details on the charges.
    Michael F.Finkelstein bought it in Aug86, sold it to Word Aviation Inc the next month, Caribbean Air Cargo leased it in 1987 and Nord Aviation bought it in Sep93 (reregistering it back to N620NA), while Nord Star Airlines started a lease by that date.
    After I'd seen it at Kenai,AK N620NA was involved in another assignment: it participated in a commercial for American Airlines (early 1997) and was resprayed as such. Latest reports (2002) indicate it's stored on its homebase of recent years: Santa Ana, Dona County Airport,NM (still painted in the classic AA livery, without titles).




    On a final note, I chartered this Piper Cub on floats for a scenic flight with my son to Mt.McKinley. It only fitted 2 passengers, so we had to leave my wife behind (we remedied that in 1998 when we chartered a DHC-2 Beaver in Canada !). We ran into this opportunity while we stayed for the night at Gracious House on the (unpaved) Denali Highway; it all came together, what Alaska was all about: scenery, remoteness, a floatplane and that on a clear day !
    Alaska deserves many revisits and I'll be back for more...!
    See my 2003 and 2006 reports.


    Back to Alaska 1995, PAGE +1+


    Sources:
    Piston Engine Airliner Production List by A.B.Eastwood & J.Roach (TAHS, 2002)
    Douglas DC-3 by J.M.G. Gradidge (Air-Britain, 1984)
    Convairliners by J.M. Gradidge (in coop with John M.Davies, Douglas D.Olson, Dr.John A.Whittle) Air-Britain 1997.
    The "C"-planes, US Cargo Aircraft 1925-present by Bill Holder & Scott Vadnais (Schiffer, 1996)
    Curtiss C-46 by Lundkvist Aviation Research (1981)
    Various news items in Propliner magazine

    And last but certainly no least: thanks to all those people with NAC, Everts, Woods Air, Brooks Fuel and others, who allowed me on the premises and let me disturb their workroutine... THANKS ALL !!



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    Created: 18-12-02 Updated: 29-11-04

    Last updated 22.10.2007