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.
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.
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 Flying Fortress '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.
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....
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
|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.