The Road Home,
via the Yukon, Anchorage and Seattle (2003)

Avro/HS.748 (Series 2A/273) C-FYDU (c/n 1694) of Air North Charter (of Whitehorse, Yukon Territories), here at the day of my visit to Fairbanks IAP, 31Jul03. on a scheduled service from Whitehorse.
Air North has 2 operational Avro 748s and another one they keep for spares. I was told that Air North' 2 Boeing 737s were not meant to replace them and I hope so, as I like these sturdy transports a lot.

Firts flight of this aircraft took place on 04Nov70 (as AMB-110, the painter had made a mistake which was corrected to AMDB-110 before its 2nd flight). It was delivered on 20Jan71 to the Brunei Government and was used as a VIP transport for the Brunei Malay Regiment. Brunei Airlines took ownership on 26Aug81 and registered it as VR-UEH (it was converted for civil use by the Singapore General Aviation Services). It was stored on 11Aug82 but resumed its active life as VS-UEH during 1983. On 01Jan84 it was again reregistered as V8-UEH for Royal Brunei Airlines.
The Mount Cook Group assumed ownership on 30Apr84 and named it "Tutoko". Air Pacific leased it from 04Dec85 to 29Jan86. After a final flight for Mt. Cook Airlines on 12Feb96 it was stored once more, at Christchurch and later at Brisbane (Jun96). It left for the North American continent and was registered as C-FYDU on 28Aug96 for Air North Charter & Training.
A big thanks for these historic details go to Derek King, Ian J McGarrigle and Marco Kosterman !


C-FYDY Whitehorse 2003 (c) Ruud Leeuw C-FYDY HS.748-233 Srs.2A (1661) sits at Whitehorse on 04Aug03, without some vital spare parts... Dark clouds loom in the distance, we fled for the rain pouring down on us but there seems to be no escaping for this 748....

But you cannot keep a good plane down! Captain Dan Tonner updated me in Aug.2005:
"As of September 2004 it has been back in active service on A DHL cargo route between CYVR and KBFI (which I notice you also visited) and occasional freight hauls back up to CYXY. Thus bringing Air Norths total active HS748 fleet upto three."
Excellent news Dan, thanks!


Air North now operates 2 HS.748s (plus one for spare parts) and has entered the jet age with the addition of 2 Boeing 737s. However, I was told that these 2 HS.748s will soldier on for years to come.

When one approaches Whitehorse IAP, one is confronted with a unique sight: Douglas C-47 CF-CPY acts as world's largest weathervane at this airport.
CF-CPY (c) Ruud Leeuw We arrived late in the afternoon and in spite of being tired by a long drive, with the sun out like it was, I just had to take some photos without delay of this extraordinary landmark ! The next day, upon my visit to Air North, the weather proved to be as changeable as reputed for these northern parts....
It had been a wish of mine for many years to visit Whitehorse, unfortunately the days when Air North operated DC-3s were long over.

Some historic details on CF-CPY (c/n 4665):
It was delivered to the USAAF as 41-18540 on 28Aug42. It served with the 10th Air Force in India during 1943 and was part of the India China Wing of Air Transport Command. After the war it found its way to Canadian Pacific Airlines as CF-CPY (1945).
It changed hands on 28Apr60, to Conelly-Dawson. Six years later it started operating with Great Northern (04Mar66) and in 1970 it was registered for GNA Ltd.
The next year International Jet Air Ltd took control, which lasted until Dec75. CF-CPY was repainted in CPA colours at Whitehorse (Yukon), during 1979, for preservation. It could have done worse, maybe every airport should follow this example...?

There has been some controversy regarding the identity of this airframe. Air-Britain's 1984 monograph on "the Douglas DC-3 and it Predecessors" stated that 41-18541 was quoted as the serial of CF-CPY, not 41-18540. Update 1 of this book provided a statement that a photo of CF-CPY in camouflage showed 41-18541 on the aircraft's fin, thus concluding c/n 4666 would fit this airframe. However, c/n 4665 seems widely accepted and c/n 4666 is still around as HB-ISB (Update 2 -of 1993- stated that construction plate of HS-ISB with 4666 must be incorrect and should read 4667).
This external link provides more background info on CF-CPY, "The World's Largest Weather Vane"

>>>>>>>>>>>>>Donna Clayson (of Whitehorse) sent an extensive article on CF-CPY (.pdf format), but I had to delete the link when found that the writer Sherron Jones had not released copyright for publication on my website.

You may find of interest what Joe 'Muff' May wrote to Donna on 26May08:

"In my GNA days I was an apprentice AME working with the likes of Bill Bedwell, Linc Evans, Herb Cherwoniak, Inspector - Al Warner, Chief Engineer - Bill . . . .?
As I recall, CPY's last flight was an aborted takeoff on Runway 13L by Capt. Joe Langlois & his F/O Erik Nielsen, due to a failed right engine while taking off for Casino with a load of drill steel one Monday morning.  The left engine was then removed and installed on CF-CUC which had a near simultaneous engine failure over Lake Laberge that same morning while on the Big Dipper sched to Inuvik.  With both engines gone, the decision was then made to modernize old CPY's radio & navigation system, which never materialized as the company went under that late fall of 1970.
If I'm not mistaken, it may have been CPY that was the first DC3 to land on a partially finished YOC runway, at that time barely 3000' long by 50' wide.  I was in YOC in early summer of '70 & staying with Stephen Frost to try & get a sled dog from him when Joe Redmond & Bill Bailie showed up at the Porcupine River sandbar with a 4500# powerplant for cargo - I convinced them to hop over to the partly finished runway with me standing between them to show them some runway detail as I had walked it that morning.  It all worked quite well & it seems to me that GNA never used the sandbar, located about 8 miles upriver, again.  But I'm not 100% sure about that last part anymore.
I bought the derelict CPY from Northward Airlines in 1976 to start restoring it for use as a YXY monument.  Bob Cameron, Bill Bedwell, Jock Patterson and a bunch of other volunteers, such as a team of Katimavik kids supplied by Parks Canada's Bruce Harvey did a lot of the restoration work after I gave the old bird to the Whitehorse Flying Club for $1.00  I'm sure that Bob has a pretty good history of CPY's restoration from that period.  I have a fair bit of recollection as well as some notes, documents, and lists of names from the project somewhere in all my stuff.
Hope this helps."
Joe

Donna found the following crew also flew CPY during that time: "Joe Redmond, Lyle Coleman, Harry Burfield, Joe Langlois, George Landry, Mark Brady, Joe McBryan, Bill Bailie, Ken Bews, Bill Clark, Cormie McArthur (DOT Inspector), Bob Bowman, Paul Fleury, Bob Ambrose, and Eric Neilson. I may have missed a few".



Others were fascinated by this unique landmark; Peggy Olafson took the first 2 photos (Feb.2006), while Martin Prince Jr sent me no.3 (taken in April 2006).
Plaque with info on CF-CPYCF-CPY by Peggy Olafson, Feb.2006 Cf-CPY by Martin Prince Jr, 2006

In July 2009 I was alerted by Sean Keating to an article on Whitehorsestar.com, which featured a photo showing CF-CPY been taken off the pole and was to be taken to the Yukon Transportation Museum as its new home...

CF-CPY in a new location Richard Roberts wrote me in Nov.2009 with good news:
"CF-CPY was indeed taken down from its old location due to airport improvements. There is now a road where the plane was located.
However, all was not lost, as the plane and its plinth was relocated at the (now) airport entrance on the grounds of the Yukon Transportation Museum. It still revolves with the wind!
I was president of the Museum Society in 1992 when the ownership of the DC-3 was transferred from the Whitehorse Flying Club to the Museum for a fee of $1.00.
A few years ago the plane was taken off its plinth, for a couple of years in order to undertake an external refurbishment, being cleaned and repainted, with tail surfaces being refrabriced." Well done!
To make sure, Richard added this timeline: "the DC-3 was originally placed on the pole during the 1980s period. It was taken down for refurbishment July 1998 and replaced in September 2001. It was taken down in July of this year (2009), spent a week on the ground and was then towed down the Alaska Highway the .5km to its new location at the Transportation Museum."

 

In Shirlee Matheson’s book ‘Flying the Frontiers Vol.III’ (subtitled 'Aviation Adventures Around the World’ - published Detselig Enterprises, 1999) I came across some remarkable history of DC-3 CF-CPY.

The book details careers in aviation and this particular chapter was dedicated to Dawn Dawson. At some point in her life she owned, with her husband Ron Connolly and her father Crae Dawson, the company Connelly-Dawson Airways.
To bid for a contract on the DEW Line a large aircraft was required. In 1960 Gordon Bartsch, ex CPA flying DC-6, bought himself in, to fly newly acquired DC-3 CF-CPY. Having been bought from CPA. Dawn was also checked out on 'CPY.
The following winter brought much flying in the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and up to the Arctic Islands. Some flights stood out, such as to Old Crow; there were only sandbars to land on. The bumpy landing brought them right at the edge of the village, where people stood watching this unique event, unaware of their close call to meet their maker!

Dawn and Gordon divorced their partners,left Connelly-Dawson Airways and got married (in 1962). Later all parties reconciled and got involved in new business enterprise.

Gordon flew other DC-3’s, such as CF-JWP for Chuck McAvoy (who had salvaged this Pacific Western Airlines DC-3, then registered as CF-PWF, from Great Slave Lake) . And CF-CAR, for Peter Bawdon’s oil company, which he crashlanded near a DEW Line airfield after running out of fuel.

Dawn and Gordon started Range Airways, based in Calgary. Connelly-Dawson Airways ran into financial problems, the principals got together, companies were merged under a new name: Great Northern Airways (GNA). Bases were in Whitehorse, Dawson City, Inuvik, Mayo, Ross River and Calgary. Soon the fleet included 5 DC-3s, Fairchild F.27s and a DC-4.

But GNA was taken over, stripped for their valuable licenses and Dawn & Gordon were hung out to dry.

Remarkably, the very last day Great Northern Airways was allowed to operate, CF-CPY aborted a take off at Whitehorse due to engine trouble. Ownership of CF-CPY was transferred to Northward Aviation Ltd but they never bothered to have it repaired. ‘CPY was left to rot, but Joe Muff, partner in Alcan Air and prior GNA employeee was allowed to buy it at som epoint for 1 dollar.
While ‘CPY was being restored, Dawn and Gordon (who by this time were running 2 successful restaurants in Hawai) returned to Whitehorse for a visit and were allowed to take out the throttle quadrant and the big trim tab – which Dawn turned into a lamp; they also were allowed to take the c/n plate.
On a later visit, Dawn and Gordon saw CF-CPY fully installed on the pedestal, turning in the wind. They sold their restaurants and participated in various air races, even circumventing the globe.
Matheson's book is recommended reading.

See also www.douglasdc3.com/dc3vane/dc3vane.htm

Donna Clayson from Whitehorse, Yukon provided these photos:
'Yarn Bomb CF-CPY August 11, 2012'
CF-CPY fell victim to a knitting group!
DC-3 CF-CPY should be warm enough to sustain the harsh Yukon winter!
But what if it rains, will the wool shrink? Anyway, a unique initiative I think.


C-47B 45-1037 (17040/34306) at Haines Junction in the Ruby Mountains, 06Aug03.

The history leading to the crash of this aircraft is fully described on my page:
DC-3 mystery in the Yukon

When I travelled the area I made it a point to visit the wreck. Unfortunately, I found the helicopter of Trans North Air unavailable. So we walked over to Sifton Air and found them willing to put a Cessna 205 to our disposal. Though this charter was cheaper, it proved to be more difficult to take photos of the wreckage, as it is located under the rim of a mountain. The fly-by cannot be made in a straight line, so Kate (our pilot) flew in the direction of the DC-3 and had to make a hard break to the right to avoid crashing against the mountain.... It left me with only a split second to make a picture.


 

An unexpected bonus: Boeing C-97G N1365N (16729) of Hawkins & Powers at Palmer,AK on 07Aug03.
I had come across this former USAF transport (52-2698) in 1995, upon a visit to Ft.Wainwright. This year the US Army had puckered up, suffering from a fear for terrorists bordering on paranoia (felt everywhere in the USA) and they had boosted their security, preventing a visit to the air tanker base on this military installation. A far cry from the situation in 1995, when there was no guard at the gate and one could drive up to the fire fighters.
Tanker 97 had replaced the Conair DC-6 here, moving down from Ft.Wainwright to Palmer. Earlier this year the aircraft returned from a firefighting mission with an engine failure, resulting in an engine change.
No one was around on this tranquil evening at Palmer,AK.

 

N43872 is a Douglas C-118A of Northern Air Cargo with c/n 44665. Photo taken at Anchorage, 08Aug03.

This aircraft served the US Air Force from 03Nov55 until Sep74, when it was stored at Davis Monthan AFB, AZ. Time Aviation Services bought it on 12May76 and when Int'l Shoe Machine Corporation bought it Feb78, it was registered as N43872, the tailnumber it is still wearing.
Desert Petroleum Company bought it in Feb86, but N43872 was impounded at Chandler,AZ later that year.
It was registered to US Customs Services in Jun87, but at some point it was found stored at Lawton, KS. Northern Air Cargo bought it in Nov89.

Ralph Pettersen wrote the following update in Aug.2009: "Other than DC-6A N6174C, none of the DC-6/C-118 aircraft recently sold to Everts by NAC will fly again. They are all time-expired Part 121 aircraft and the deal stipulated that they would not be flown as Part 125 aircraft.
C-118A N43872 is parked on the south ramp of Anchorage Int'l where the C-133 was parked last summer. It was donated by NAC to the Lake Hood museum and has been dressed up for museum display, but the museum doesn't have the space to put it on display..."

Pieter Taris wrote me in Sep.2010, reporting N43872 was seen at the Lake Hood air museum, parked outside between the main hall and the annex, against the fence seperating the museum with the road/taxi track, next to the Boeing 737-200.

Douglas C-118A N2907F (c/n 44636) at ANC, 08Aug03.
This is another former USAF transport, having been delivered on 21Apr55 as 53-3265, it was finally retired during 1975 at Davis Monthan AFB, AZ. Retirement did not last long as Cryderman Air Services took possession on 12May76. Two years later it was bought by Time Aviation Services and registered as N2907F.
At some date it returned to desert storage in Arizona and during Mar91 it was purchased by NAC.
Check my Alaska 2006 page for some more photos of N2907F

N1377K is another Douglas C-118A, with c/n 44596. It was photographed that same day when it was towed from the maintenance hangar to the ramp, ready for commercial duties. One notices the difference in titles, compared to the titles on the C-118s shown above.
This airframe was delivered to the USAF as 53-3225 on 02Sep54, its military career cut short in Mar76 when it was parked in the Arizona desert. It was bought by NAC on 01Apr82 and registered as N1377K.

When NAC ceased operating DC-6s, most were bought by Everts Air; read about their situation on my FAIRBANKS 2012 REPORT


N6204U (c/n 43549) is a DC-6BF, a former Conifair Six and a recent addition to Northern Air Cargo's fleet. When NAC bought this Six (and another former Conifair DC-6A, N6174C, away at Victoria,TX for extensive maintenance) the fans of these vintage transports breathed a heavy sigh of relief as NAC had shocked the community when 3 Boeing 727s were added to the fleet. Meanwhile also a modern ATR.42 has joined the fleet, but I was assured by Bob Russell, NAC's Chief Pilot, that the Douglas DC-6 would be the mainstay of NAC's fleet for many more years to come.Unfortunately, NAC's policy changed, as can be read on my 2006 report...

Historic brief on this airframe: delivered as LN-LML to Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) on 04Jul52, it was leased to Thai Int'as HS-TGB from Apr60 until Jun63. Upon its return it was reregistered as SE-XBO for SAS. Icelandair bought it on 04Jan64, named it "Solfaxi" and changed the tailnumber to TF-FIP.
Next it changed to OO-RVG for Delta Air Transport in Belgium (18Mar72). A return to North America was made upon Zantop Int'l Airlines' purchase in Oct73; it was converted to a freighter, designated DC-6BF and registered as N3549H. Conifair Aviation became the next owner (C-GBYH) in Mar90, which ended in storage at Quebec City during 1996. NAC bought it on 04Jun02, changed the tailnumber to N6204U and after a brief restoration, ferried it to Anchorage where still a lot will need to be done on it before it really joins NAC's prime selection of Sixes.
Fellow propliner fan Nicolai Musante visited NAC during Spring 2004 and reported the following: :NAC bought N6204U with two other DC-6s from Conifair. They obtained each Six for only 5.000 US$ each. So far, the company spent more than 1 million (usd) on restoring sistership N6174C in Texas and at the NAC facility at ANC. This has left N6174C with some 8.000 airframe hours before next major overhaul. This should ensure at least 10 more years of operation. It is most likely that N6204U will undergo the same kind of restoration needed and eventualy become a fuel tanker. Excellent news I'd say !

Well, upon my June 2012 visit I carried information N6204U had been stored at Palmer, but it was nowhere to be seen. Scrapped?


Following is a summary of Douglas DC-6 propliners with Northern Air Cargo (Aug.2003):

REG. Type of Aircraft C/n Status
N434TA DC-6BF/ST 44434 / 515Stored, Swingtail
N1027N C-118A 43580 / 294Stored, no props
N1036F C-118A 43581 / 295Stored, no engines
N4206LC-118B 43709 / 355Stored, no engines
N4213XC-118A44605 / 518 Stored, engineparts removed
N6174CDC-6A44075 / 451In maintenance at Victoria,TX
N6204UDC-6BF43549 / 245Stored, in Conifair c/s
N779TADC-6A/C 45529 / 1035Operational
N1377KC-118A 44596 / 499 Operational
N7780B DC-6C 45372 / 875Operational ?
N7919CDC-6B 43554 / 247Operational
N2907FC-118A 44636 / 574Operational
N43872C-118A44665 / 632Operational
N99330C-118A43576 / 275Operational (in overhaul 08Aug03)


Many of NAC's stored Sixes can be seen at Stored at Fairbanks, 2003

Ralph Petersen visited NAC in June 2008 and reported the sad tidings that NAC had only 2 active Sixes in operation and this would cease altogether on 30Sep08...
He provided the following list:

ANC
DC-6A - N6174C - active
C-118A - N2907F - active
C-118A - N43872 - spares airplane parked outside the maintenance hangar
 
FAI
C-118A - N99330 - stored
DC-6A/C - N779TA - stored
DC-6B - N434TA - stored (swingtail; in 2016 to Buffalo A/W, stored)
C-118A - N1027N - stored
C-118A - N1036F - stored
C-118A - N1377K - stored
C-118B - N4206L - stored
DC-6B - N867TA - stored - rear fuselage only (swingtail)

Nb: N2907F is just about out of hours before its next major check so it will probably be scrapped. N6174C has about 3,500 hrs before its major check so it is a good candidate for continued service.

UPDATE:
Registered 02Nov09 to Everts Air Cargo
N6174C
N2907F for spares
N779TA for spares

 


 

N138D DC-3-277C, Boeing Museum of Flight, 12Aug03.
It was the second time I visited this museum and the pleasure was no less. To my surprise I found this DC-3 repainted in another livery compared to my visit in 1995.

The history of this airframe (c/n 2245) is as follows:
delivered as DC-3-277C to American Airlines NC15591 on 18Jul40. Notice the righthand passengerdoor; only a few years later, with an eye on airport operating procedures, a standard exit on the lefthand side was introduced. TWA bought it 28May42. This lasted for over 10 years when NC15591 was sold to Union Steel & Wrecking Co (Jan53). Ozark Airlines took ownership the next year and reregistered it as N138D in 1957.
Fairchild-Hiller was registered as owner on 15Dec66, which passed it on to Avion Inc. of Houston,TX that same month. N138D found a new home in Las Vegas while being operated by Nevada Airlines (04Apr73). The 1980s saw Pacific National Airways becoming the new owner (1980), but this lasted only until 08Dec80 when Royal West Airways (Las Vegas,NV) bought it.
Things began getting awry for N138D when the Crocker National Bank of San Francisco, CA repossessed it on 02Jul82. It sat stored for a number of years at the airport of Las Vegas, until Boeing's Museum of Flight in Seattle,WA. put it on display. N138D was registered to them in Jul87, more formerly on 14Apr92 to the Museum of Flight Foundation.
Which year, between 1995 and 2003, it was repainted in the Alaska Airlines c/s I do not know.


This is the original 'NC91008' (but still a fake id, read below...), lying elsewhere on Boeing Field (out of view from the museum...).

Its history reads as follows: c/n 6337 is a Douglas DC-3-455 and delivered as NC30035 to Eastern Airlines and was committed to the war effort with USAAF serial 43-2013 and redesignated a C-49K on 27Jan43.

It flew apparently for Inland Airlines during a period 1943/44 and was transferred to the Alaska Wing of Air Transport Command on 06Mar44.
On 12Mar45 it became the concern of the Reconstruction Finance Corporation. The RFC was a US federal agency created by Congress on February 2, 1932; during the Great Depression it made loans to help stimulate commerce, industry, and agriculture.
The RFC was backed by President Herbert Hoover, to make loans to banks, insurance companies, industrial corporations and railroads. During World War II the RFC played an important role in financing war industries. The agency was abolished by Congress in 1956 after lending over $13 billion.

Tailnumber NC17885 was assigned to this airliner by the Disposition Center (DPC) and United Airlines leased it from May46 to 15Aug49. As NC15748 it was used by Delta for an undefined period, after which it was assigned to H.H.Hill and North Central became the new owner on 03Jun57.

Sky Club of America Inc. of Kansas City, MO had it registered to its name on 14Sep68. Next we see a Mr D E Fillman of Charleston,WV becoming the new owner during 1973. This lasted only 2 years, when S Lawson of Anchorage, AK bought it in 1975. Another privat owner was A Harleman of Corona,CA, (Oct77) and again another was P S Rudie of Salem,OR (registered 06Nov79).
Old age must have sat in as N15748 had a double engine failure and force landed at Coeur d'Alene Airport,ID on 06Nov79. The DC-3 was abandoned and vandalized subsequently. Salair recovered N15748 in Spring 1984 and took it by road to Spokane, WA (reg'd 08Jul85).

C/n 6337 was donated to the Museum of Flight in May87 for restoration in Alaska Airlines c/s and painted as "NC91008".
Now (2003) we see it been used as sparepart supply to N138D and we will have to see what happens to the remains.
The real N91008 crashed in Alaska in 1954; why the museum is persistemt to have a NC91008 on display I do not know.

Photos shown on Warbird Information Exchange (WIX) forum in July 2010 showed it sitting on its fuselage, without wings and rudder, and without markings in a state of growing dilapidation...

UPDATE by Ian Wison from his logs:
"...read the story on your site ref N138D, c/n 6337. Before I worked for Martinair Engineering I was plying my engineering skills at Boeing Customer Services for B777, 747, 767s about 1 km from the Museum. Great days went to heaven for a few years in the Pacific Northwest!
Looking at my data I have on the 30th Jan. 1998: 'NC91008, ex N138D, inside just been painted on Alaska colours, several aircraft outside to facilitate the move.' NC91008 was outside minus it’s wings etc.
Clearly the repaint was January 1998."

UPDATE: lying derelict in the grass, offered on eBay in august 2015, with a starting bid for... usd 8.000

See image at Photos by Friends & Guests (43) and how it (now referred to by its latest official registration, N15748) ended up with Aerometal International LLC in july 2016 on: Photos by Friends & Guests (46)


This is how N138D (c/n 2245) looked in 1995; later it would be repainted as 'NC91008'.

All a bit confusing as another fake 'NC91008' was outside on the ramp, still in one piece and decorated with Alaska A/L titles - later to be moved further away.
That one c/n 6337, has its history described above.


A word of sincere gratitude to the people of Northern Air Cargo (Bob Russell in particular) and the Airport Authorities of Anchorage IAP for their hospitality and patience.

The start was at Anchorage, 2003
After having taken in Anchorage, there was the Road North
Join me on a DC-4 flight from Fairbanks: Bliss with Brooks !
Cultural stuff at: Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum at Lake Hood (Anchorage), 2003
Museums at Fairbanks too: Pioneer Air Museum (Fairbanks), 2003

Sources:
Piston Engined Airliner Production List, by A.B.Eastwood and J.Roach (TAHS, 2002).
Douglas DC-3 by J.M.G. Gradidge (Air-Britain, 1984)


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(replace -AT- by the @ symbol).

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Created: 21-10-03
Last updated 15.8.2006