N1944H, by Walt Brubaker

You feature photos of N54542, aka N1944H on two web pages of your website www.ruudleeuw.com/dc3_p1.htm. I have some interesting information on that aircraft, as I flew it for about 600 hours in 1989 and 1990.
The aircraft was owned by the EAA and used to give scenic rides in Oshkosh, WI. In about 1988, the plane was sold to Mike Suzuki of California Air Tours in Burbank, CA. The ferry pilot on that trip was Dan Reid, a longtime Basler DC-3 pilot.

CAT was in the business of taking Japanese tourists to visit the Grand Canyon from Burbank airport, daily, using Cessna 402s and Navajos. After lots of paperwork taking about a year, the FAA granted permission for CAT to use the DC-3 in Part 135 (Air Charter) operation. This is historic because this aircraft is the last commercial passenger-carrying use of the DC-3 in America [I think the ERA Aviation DC-3's pictured below may claim that title! - Webmaster].
When CAT folded three years later, the certificate was terminated, and the FAA made a policy decision never to grant another DC-3 Part 135 certificate.

During the years 1989-1991, N45452 carried thousands of tourists on trips to the Grand Canyon, 30 per plane-load. I was a copilot with Capt. Reid for both the certification proving runs and daily revenue ops. We had a steward, a Japanese citizen named Hiroshi, who now works for Delta Airlines. Other captains were Cal Lohner, Chuck Grant, and Al Pennington. We flew year-round, often in icing and snow into the Canyon's 7000-ft airport. We experienced several engine failures and Kingman, AZ was our alternate airport in case of emergency. I still have a supercharger impeller that sucked in a loose bolt, nicking it up and causing an engine fire.

Capt. Reid died in a DC-3 crash in Africa about 1995 and is buried in Riverside Military cemetary in California. Capt. Lohner operates Air Cal out of Burbank. Capt. Pennington flies Piaggio Avantis out of Reno, after being laid off from American Trans Air. Capt. Grant is a retired captain with El Al, Japan Air Lines and Air America, who flies a Super Constellation out of Camarillo.

--Walt Brubaker


This is the aircraft referred to, though then it carried tailnumber N54542:

On: Propliners in Alaska, 1995

ERA Aviation of Alaska operated DC-3's N1944H & N1944M as ERA Classic Aviation.
When new safety regulations required all passenger aircraft to have reinforced cockpitdoors, it was
decided to abandon this service and put both DC-3's up for sale (2003). The reinforced cockpitdoor would
have been too big an expense for this operation (strictly summer-season).
See a 2017 update on both their new homes & owners: Photos by Friends & Guests (50)
ERA Classic Airliners on Airliners.net


On: Gooney Birds in Canada & Alaska

UPDATE: THIS GOONEY BIRD STARTED A NEW CAREER AS NC33611 IN PAA LIVERY - SEE HERE


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