|Francis Blake did me the pleasure of sending this batch of vintage Alaska propliners! After he sent me the Interior Airways C-46 drowing in 'NoLuck Lake' (see Photos by Friends & Guests - 50) he found a few more photos taken during his 1972 stint on 'the Last Frontier'.
DC-3 taking off or landing at Driftwood, a remote and primitive site in western parts of Alaska's vast North Slope.
Marc Hookerman wrote: "Great action photo of the DC-3 at Driftwood Airstrip!
Driftwood (not to be confused with Driftwood Bay) was a research camp, just east/southeast of Icy Cape and
Point Lay LRRS along the Utukok River. Very remote area!
Now, which DC-3 / C-47 operator could this be..?
Interior Airways operated between 1947-1972. Interior Enterprises had merged with the former and operated only between 1946-1948. The former merged in turn with (an operator which later merged into) Alaska Airlines.
Unfortunately I was unable to find a fleetlist
for Interior A/W, but I have to say that the name 'Interior' seems
to have been painted over here, erased, indicating this DC-3
is a former Interior Airways DC-3/C-47..?
Marc Hookerman remarked: "Interior was absorbed into Alaska Industries by 1972 (became Alaska International Air and only flew the Lockheed 382B Hercules by that point).
Their C-46s went to Fairbanks Air Service, if memory serves...
Photos of Interior Aws DC-3s are rare. Tough one to figure out as the Alaskan air cargo non-sked start-ups and mergers at that point were numerous!"
Fairbanks Air Service operated during 1946-1976, was renamed 06Jan76 to Great Northern Airlines (1976-1980). -ATDB.aero
The photos discussed here were taken during 1972.
Jim Magoffin, who founded Interior Airways in 1946, wrote a book (my list of books) about his life in aviation: 'Triumph over Turbulence'. On page 225 is a photo (b&w) with the caption: "Longtime Interior Airways arctic pilot Bob Jacobs with a DC-3 at Arctic Village, Alaska. 'Jake' was originally based at Umiat, but moved to Sagwon as oil company interest increased in that area'.
Sagwon was the location picked by Magoffin for Interior's own airport. It was inland far enough to escape the coastal fog but close to the area of most interest to the oil companies. At times it was a restless beehive of actitiy!
From the photo I could make out the tailnumber: N46496. Which is one of two Douglas C-47A aircraft operated by Great Northern Airlines (leased). The other one was N345A (c/n 9397).
While the ATDB aero database remarks on the latter that it moved to Air Florida Sunshine / Air Sunshine
('ultimate obscure'), N46496 went to Air Pacific Int'l, to DHL Island AW, to Basler (als ending as 'ultimate obscure').
N345A served with Aspen AW before moving to Alaska ('To Great Northern Airlines Fairbanks AS').
The photo above shows titles but I was unable to make out what ('AIR ..' in fat lettering?). The insignia on the tail however is not the waving flag of
Interior A/W but rather a US flag...
I don't have a fleetlist of Fairbanks Air Service, so am unable to check which (if any) DC-3's operated with Fairbanks Air Service (1946-1972). Was Magoffin involved with Fairbanks Air Service in any way?
Elsewhere in the book (page 156, a colour photo) N46496 (c/n 9499) shows a very different colourscheme; the caption reads 'The Dewliner', Interior Airways' first DC-3, N46496. This plane put in 16 years of hard work for Interior before being sold. Here it is shown on take off at Point Barrow.'
Curtiss C-46F Commando
N1663M (c/n 22548) - Fairbanks Airport in June 1972.
The C-46 was in use at the time this photo was taken.
A bit of history on c/n 22548:
USAF (44-78725), Resort AL (N1663M), Transamerica AL (N1663M), 'Alaska AL' (N1663M),
Northern AL (N1663M), Northern Pacific Transport (N1663M), San Francisco Ferreteria & Implementos (N1663M)
and Everts Air Fuel, but unused: N1663M was scrapped at Midland-Odessa,TX though the cockpit section was moved
for Everts to Fairbanks. [-ATDB]
San Francisco Ferreteria & Implementos (1982-2009) was based in Laredo,TX.
The service with Alaska Airlines
mentioned above probably refers to Interior Airways (which operated between
Great Northern Airlines (formerly, during 1946-1976, known as Fairbanks Air Service) operated
during the years 1976-1980.
Interior's C-46A N4860V (c/n 30240) can be seen at my Alaska 1995 and Fairbanks
I have to say that while the 'Interior'-titles could be blocked by that wing, it could equally be erased and this
C-46F may have being operated by another operator post-1972, same as the DC-3 above!
(Mind 1972 was the year Francis Blake spent up in Alaska!).
Great Northern AL, operated several C-46s aircraft but no DC-3 (Source: www.planelogger.com/Airline/Fleet)
Northern Pacific Transport (1984-1992), ceased ops Aug,1992 when assets were repossessed. Before that the Ball Brothers owned and operated both C-46s & C-47 (also C-118s & DC-6), 1978-1984, had been formed by Albert Newton Ball; renamed Nov.1984 to Northern Pacific. Would this timespan make a better fot for when the photos were taken..?
Francis added on the above aircraft: "The rapid turn overs and merges of airline companies in Alaska back then
The painted over names were confusing. I was never sure who was our cargo service that day.
Somewhere in the history mix is 'Wien'. We saw a few planes and facilities with that name, but I don't think they involved us."
While browsing my bookcase I came across this book: 'Alaskan Props' by Karl-Heinz Morawietz & Jörg Weier: staring me in the face on the frontcover is Curtiss C-46 N1663M 'sans' Interior titles!
The book has 'Front Cover: Resident in Alaska since 1964. Curtiss C-46 Commando
currently registered to John O'Magoffin but retains the patriotic blue and gold livery of the now
defunct Interior Airways. The snow covered peaks of the Chugach Mountains can be seen in the
No indication of date and location, but that last line may indicate Anchorage or Palmer.
Alaska Props was published by Osprey Publishing Ltd (London,UK) in 1988.
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.
I am assuming the John O'Magoffin mentioned is the same person as Jim Magoffin.
Lockheed L.100-20 Hercules N9265R (c/n 4300) of Interior Airways
Delivered as N9265R to Alaska Airlines, but probably operated by Interior Airways(as we see that tailnumber and
'Interior' on the photo). Ownership changed to Markair, reregistering as N104AK, and later various owners
brought this airframe to many continents: Transamerica AL, Southern Air Transport (N908SJ), Air Foyle, Pacific
Rim A/W (leased), Transafrik (S9-CAW), United Nations Organisation (leased), National AL (leased, based based Iraq/Afghanistan) and Transafrik Uganda (5x-TUB, Stored at Fujairah-FJR anno 2017).
A little bit more on Interior Airways:
The airline began its life in late 1946, founded by James Magoffin (Fairbanks,AK), carrying cargo throughout the American territory of Alaska.
In the late 1960s the airline bought Lockheed L-382 Hercules aircraft to service construction of the Alaska Pipeline.
In 1972 it changed its name to Alaska International Air, to reflect its international charter business.
In 1980 Alaska International Air bought a regional passenger/cargo airline named Great Northern Airways.
In 1984 new colors and the name MarkAir were brought to the airline as it inaugurated passenger/cargo service from Anchorage to the Alaska bush communities
And a little bit more on Mr Magoffin, supplied by Martin S. Best-
"I tried to check on your Mr Magoffin. I thought that the obvious place to check on the name would be in the World Airline Surveys published by Flight and available online at the flightglobal website.
I checked the 'World Airline Survey' dated 13April1961. There is an entry for Interior Enterprises Inc. on page 496. This lists the Executives as J S Magoffin, president; D R Magoffin, executive vice-president.
At that time, the Fleet was: three C-46, two DC-3, six Cessna 180, three Norseman, 11 others.
There is no entry for Fairbanks Air Services.
Then I checked 'Airlines of the United States since 1914', by R E G Davies (Putnam, 1972).
Looking at the Index on page 710, the entry for Interior Airways says “See: Interior Air Service”...
This entry says "Fleet, 1969 (Table 27), 648". This is in error!
Although Table 27 is on page 648, the entry for Interior is in Table 26 on page 647...
The fleet shown was 2 DC-3 and 1 F.27, Total: 3. (There is no column for the C-46.)
You should be able to find Fairbanks Air Services in Flightglobal." (But I found nil via 'Search' on that website. -Webmaster,RL).
Boeing C-97s stored at a salvage yard; where could this have been..?
Paul van der Horst offered: "The 'C-97's' appear to be Boeing 377 Stratocruisers. I can see 2 Transocean (TAA)
examples and 5 Northwest 'Strats'. My guess would be the Mojave B377 boneyard!" But Frances insist it isn't!
David responded on the Classic-Propliner forum (Yahoo): "This location was used in an episode of Cannon in a shooting scene.
(Frank) Cannon was an American
1960’s 1970's detective TV-series.
They filmed a chase scene a Mojave in and around
the C-97s. A row of C-97's looking very similar as to those on the photo.
YouTube: Cannon Series 3 Episode 7 'Night Flight to Murder'. Look for aprox 36 mins and the scene ends around 44.
Boeing 377s suggested as background to filming a Frank Cannon episode. But closer examination makes it unlikely.
A single mountain in the background here, where Frances' has a mountain range in the background...
Having seen this, Francis Blake insists that his photo of the Stratocruisers was taken at Fairbanks!
On damaged Boeing's on the YouTube screendumps are not to be found on Blake's photo. Nor did I see
the one sitting on his tail in Cannon's shoot-out... So two major salvage yards here...?
Mike Adkins wrote (Oct.2017): "3rd season of 'Cannon' was definitely NOT '1960s'!
The 7th episode of that season would have aired in late 1973. "Cannon" ran on CBS for five seasons, 1971-1976.
He drove a Lincoln Mark in the show: A Mark III in the first season, then a Mark IV. A big guy needed a big car!"
Furthermore on the line of Strats stored, Neil Aird wrote: "I was in FAI 1966 and 1968, no Strats there then!
Check this out, www.allaboutguppys.com/377f.htm (Daren Savage)-->
The image has the following caption on that website, 'The title 'King of the Second-hand Stratocruisers' must surely go to Aero Spacelines which laid claim to no fewer than 27 of the many B-377/C-97s produced. It wasn't out of love of the
design that they bought this many Stratocruisers. It was out of their need for spare parts for the Guppy program.
Most were stored at Mojave, California with some being stored at Oakland, California. Pictured here is Aero Spacelines' legacy to the Mojave Desert. In the end all Stratocruisers met the smelter's torch.'
Webmaster's note- Frances' stored Stratocruisers have a double line of airframes, mountains in the background while
this photo at Mojave has a long single line and no mountains in the background.