Propliners, warbirds and bushplanes by Ken Swartz

Photos © Ken Swartz

Ken Swartz shares my interest in vintage aircraft and aviation history. His focus includes the vintage large multi propellor aircraft as well as 'sky trucking' bushplanes.
Comments with the photographs are mainly Ken's, additional information is sometimes added by the webmaster.


Zantop's Electra's languishing at Willow Run
Lockheed Electra's at YIP
I visited the Detroit area in June 2009 and came across propliners at The Henry Ford Museum and Willow Run Airport.
At the latter I was disappointed by the declining population of propliners, with the five remaining Zantop L-188s appear to be destined for the scrapyard.
In the mid-1990s, you could walk amongst 30+ propliners (CV580, CV600, DC-4, DC-6, Convair 240, L-188, Beech 18, Volpar) but the scrapman has taken most of these aircraft away, after they were first stripped of their engines. See Ian MacFarlane's page.
On these photos are five remaining L-188s, all without engines.
There were still a couple of Convairs at the north end of the field, but they were too far away to identify. 

C-7 Caribou at Willow Run, being restored

The Yankee Air Museum's DHC-4 (c/n 2) was recently painted up in U.S. Army colours. A Toronto group tried to bring this, the second prototype DHC-4, back to the de Havilland Canada (DHC) factory at Downsview in 2008, but without success alas.
The serial of '24171' is false, the original 62-4171 (c/n 110) was transferred to the South Vietnam Air Force in 1972.


The Detroit News ran an item on DetNews.Com 15Sep09, reporting the Willow Run Airport 'in dire straights':
Nathan Hurst / The Detroit News
Van Buren Township -- Willow Run airport is facing severe financial problems and officials are considering a number of cost-saving options, from leasing the facility to possibly closing it.
The airport's future essentially depends on how quickly the economy rebounds and whether Willow Run can hang on until then.
It's a far cry from the heyday at the airport, which provided a major cargo launching point for Detroit's "Arsenal of Democracy" weaponry during World War II, and was carrying passengers before Metro Airport.
The authority cut Willow Run's budget to $5.88 million for fiscal year 2009, which ends Sept. 30, and is looking to cut it again in 2010, to $3.26 million.
In the end, the airlines pick up the overrun for Willow Run, since the authority doesn't take taxpayer dollars.
This year, the amount of cargo shuttling in and out of Willow Run has been running at less than half the levels seen last year, which were far below levels seen in 2007.
The number of operations at the airport -- a count of how many take-offs and landings -- is down significantly as well. That's due to a falloff in business from the Big Three automakers, as well as waning interest from general aviation and private charter operations.
Willow Run used to handle scheduled passenger service, but an agreement with the airlines operating at Metro Airport prohibits it from serving such flights, along with charter flights where tickets are sold publicly. So the airport's business relies on cargo and private air traffic.

B-17 'Yankee"
B-17 Flying Fortress 'Yankee Lady'
The Yankee Air Museum has an excellent collection and is worthy of a visit. Part of its (flying) collection is this World war 2 bomber, "Yankee Lady".

The museum offered the following information:
B-17G-110-VE, N3193G, was delivered to the U. S. Army Air Corps as 44-85829, then transferred to the U. S. Coast Guard as PB-1G, BuNo 77255 in September 1946.
It served at NAS Elizabeth City, North Carolina until May 1959.
Ace Smelting Incorporated of Phoenix, Arizona bought it on May 11, 1959, gave it its current registration, then sold it to Fairchild Aerial Surveys of Los Angeles, CA the same month.
Aero Services Corporation of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania acquired it on August 2, 1965 and sold it to Beigert Brothers of Shickley, Nebraska on October 1, 1965.
Aircraft Specialties Incorporated of Mesa, Arizona bought it on March 19, 1966 and flew it as tanker c34 and later tanker #34.
It was flown to Hawaii in January 1969 to appear in the movie Tora Tora Tora.
Globe Air Incorporated of Mesa, AZ acquired it along with B-17G-85-DL, N9563Z on February 18, 1981. It is now named "Yankee Lady" and flies for the Yankee Air Museum at Yspilanti, Michigan.

C-47 476716

The Yankee Air Museum (YAM) is the owner and operator of this Douglas C-47 transport which is available for airshows, flybys & film and is also available for Member trips.
476716 (N8704) is a C-47D 'Skytrain' with c/n 16300/33048 and wears its original USAAF serial.
More info on the museum's website.

The Henry Ford (they have dropped the word 'Museum' from the name) is a must visit attraction on the scale of the Smithsonian in DC, with a rare collection of aircraft and a large park (Greenfield Village) full of historic buidings including the original bicycle shop and family home of the Wright brothers....
Fokker Universal

On May 9, 1926, Byrd and pilot Floyd Bennett attempted a flight over the North Pole in a Fokker F-VII Tri-motor called the 'Josephine Ford'. This flight went from Spitsbergen (Svalbard) and back to its take-off airfield. Byrd claimed to have reached the Pole. [Josephine Ford Arctic Expedition, Wikipedia]
The Fokker Universal of "Standard" was the first aircraft built in the United States that was based on the designs of Dutch-born Anthony Fokker, who had designed aircraft for the Germans during World War I. About half of the 44 Universals that were built between 1926 and 1931 in the United States were used in Canada. Among the famous pilots who flew the Fokker Universal were Punch Dickins and Walter Gilbert.


The Aviation Galleries of The Henry Ford museum were re-modeled in 2003 to celebrate the U.S. Centennial of Flight.
These photos show a DC-3, Boeing 40, Ford Trimotor and Fokker Trimotor, plus the original Wright brothers bicycle shop where they did their early aviation work.
This brick building and the wooden Wright family home were moved from Dayton to Greenfield Village in Dearborn by Ford.
The museum is located across the street from what was the Ford Airport. The site is now used by Ford for design and development and includes a test track. MUSEUM WEBSITE

DC-3 in the Henry Ford
Douglas DC-3-201B N21728 (c/n 2144) in the Heroes of the Sky gallery.

Ken Swartz recently shared these images (sent Feb.2017) with me as he had been on a glorious propliner roadtrip on the US westcoast last year.

Aerometal's restoration facility at Aurora Airport, Oregon.
N18121, on the left (behind yellow Stearman), on the right with blue strip and US flag: N341A and in the
back, without wings, an unidentified one.

C-47A N115SA at Aurora Airport, Oregon
Douglas C-47A N115SA at Aurora Airport on 09Aug2016. Still ways to go for restoration.
In 2012 I saw it at the Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum, but the museum wasn't open, had closed shop by then?

N115SA was registered 03Dec03 for First Flight Out Inc., Charlotte,NC. By Nov04 First Flight Out had ceased to operate and N115SA was offered for sale on eBay during Nov.2004; with a recorded ttl 27.863hrs.
Soon after it was located on private airstrip near Hondo,TX.
Reg'd 23Feb07 to James T.Hunt of La Habra Heights,CA. Reported on 26Oct07 at Chino,CA.
Then 25Jun09 it was reported as N1159, but this could be a mispole.
Since 12Nov09 registered to Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum of Portland, OR.

Roy Blewett advised me:"N115SA moved to Aurora from Hillsboro in Oct.2012 and is now owned by the Down Ampney Project. It will be restored into RAF D-Day markings and eventually go to the UK.
Further information here: (Info by Feb.2017)

I came across this N115SA in 2012 (see MY 2012 REPORT, which also has a link to a .pdf doc intercepted when it was offered for sale, providing interesting details.
My 2012 page also has details of its career since it started as C-47A and joined the war effort in 1944.

C-49 N15748 unmarked fuselage at Aerometal, Aurora, OR
This is Douglas C-49K N15748 (c/n 6337); it will never fly again.
Once exhibited inside the Museum of Flight on Boeing Field, Seattle,WA. More on my Photo by Friends & Guests (46)

Ken wrote:
"Aerometal International is dedicated to the restoration, maintenance, and preservation of classic, vintage and warbird historic aircraft.
During my visit to Aurora Airport on August 2016, there were three DC-3s being restored inside the hangar for private clients. The restoration work we saw was extensive and included in-depth airframe inspections, anti-corrosion treatment, complete rewiring and the restoration of classic airline and VIP interiors.
A couple of the people working in the workshop on the day of our tour have also restored historic aircraft at the Evergreen Aviation Museum in nearby McMinnville, OR".

Republic RC-3 Seabee N6481K
This Republic RC-3 SeaBee N6481K (c/n 736) is preserved at the Evergreen Air Museum in McMinnville, Oregon.
Date of visit was 09Aug2016.
I am very fond of this peculiar aircraft, the Seabee, which enjoyed a second career as a bushplane.
I visited this impressive museum in 2012, see My REPORT; the museum ran into financial difficulties and since 2012
various planes of the collection, were sold but I think there is till a lot to see and enjoy.

CV580 N580HW
Convair CV580 N580HW (c/n 2), operated by Honeywell Int'l Inc (registered to them since 1992!). PAE 08Aug16
Honeywell's CV580 is one of the oldest in the world. It is used to test fly modern avionics.
Several flight test aircraft are based at PAE, including the CV580 and an Eurocopter AS350 helicopter.
Paine Field, also known as Snohomish County Airport (IATA: PAE, ICAO: KPAE) is a small international airport
located in Snohomish County, between Mukilteo and Everett,WA. The PAE base is supposed to close and these
aircraft are expected to move to Arizona (or New Mexico?).

Beech 18 N103AF
Beech G18S N103AF (c/n BA-526); it is operated by Point-to-Point Air, a Seattle area charter service.
N013AF is seen here at Arlington (KAWO),WA on 08Aug2016. That is where I came across it too, my USA 2014



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