Propliners and Alaska Flying by Paul Weston

 

Photos ©Paul Weston

 

Paul Weston sent me these images, of his flying days in the early 1980s, in Alaska:

C-119 Alaska

Here's Kaiser-Frazer C-119L N8504W (c/n 259) at Dahl Creek,Alaska:
C-119 N8504W damaged beyond repair, Alaska
From Aviation Safety Network (ASN): The right hand main landing gear shear pin failed, causing the gear to collapse. Aircraft damaged beyond repair. Date of accident 07Sep1981. Never salvaged, I believe?
Operator was 'J.D.Gifford & Associates', see Paul's information below on this outfit. Additional info welcomed.
EMAIL

From www.baaa-acro.com: 'There were 2 pilots on board when the right main gear collapsed on landing, after
a lock pin failed. There were no casualties. Aged 30, the pilot totalized 6,000 flying hours with 500 on type.
The accident occurred at 1100LT. The flight was from Anchorage to Dahl Creek.'

I also found, through 'Google Books' something on the demise of Gifford Aviation in a book by William Patrick Dean, the ATL-98 Carvair, a Comprehensive History of the Aircraft and all 21 Airframes-
Gifford Aviation, Alaska

Paul wrote:
"The multi-year government contract for flying construction materials to remote Alaskan locations evolved to eight C-119s and ended with seven. The atmosphere at the Anchorage ramp always emitted a since of adventure!
Here's a shot of an empty take off from Ambler's 2500ft strip. Ten ton loads were flown in..!"
C-119 taking off from Ambler's 2.500 ft gravel strip

FOR MORE C-119 INFO & PHOTOS SEE MY 'C-119 INFO PAGES ONE - TWO - THREE'

Propliners at the Anchorage ramp, 1980s
Paul added to this photo: "This is the Gifford ramp at Anchorage. Most of my Boxcar flying was with Gifford.
It was a FAR part 91 offshoot of 'Kodiak Western.' There were eight C-119s and two DC-4 'Caravans'."

(1.Somewhere mid-1970s Kodiak Airways merged with Western Alaska Airways, confirmation/details welcomed
2.The C-119 on the far right has tailnumber N8504Y; fate of this C-119? - Webmaster EMAIL)

The Carvair is, I think, N83FA (c/n 10365 / 5), identified by this photo on Airliners.net
As found in that screendump depicted above, N83FA was sold when Gifford & Associates went bust;
here are a few pics on Airliners.net - 1990 - 1996 -
04Apr1997 written off, both crew fatal in the crash, ASN Report

5/10365 G-AREK Aviation Traders Nov '62
N9757F Intercontinental US Inc. Nov '62
LX-IOG Interocean Airways Dec '62
F-BHMV Compagnie Air Transport May '65 'Cdt Max Geudt'
British Air Ferries Apr '72 leased
G-AREK British Air Ferries Feb '73 "Porky Pete"
British Air Ferries Feb '76 WFU & stored Southend, Essex
F-BYCL Uni Air Jun '77
N83FA Falcon Airways Aug '79
Kodiak Western Airlines '81 leased
Gifford Aviation May '82
Custom Air Service Oct '85
Crashed @ Griffin, Georgia 04 Apr '97

Here is a photo of N83FA, sent to me by Paul in June 2017,
Carvair N83FA at Anchorage 1980s, by Paul Weston
Paul wrote: "I just came across this grainy shot of Gifford’s Anchorage Ramp in the early 1980s".

 

 


Paul Weston's propliners in Alaska
Paul wrote with this photo: "Here is a shot taken of our aircraft's shadow, a DC-6, and the Augustine Volcano. It was taken enroute from Dillingham to Anchorage or Kenai.  We were hauling fish so this was not an unusual altitude!
My DC-6 flying was mostly with the Ball Brothers."

Paul has an interesting tale to tell on this C-119 N3267U!
C-119 N3267U
Pilot and the UN Coördinator / Lodwar, Kenya

"Here's a photo from Lodwar, Kenya. This C-119 N3267U was ferried to Lodwar from Greybull,WY in the late '80s/early 90s.
We were flying a United Nations contract, involving food-drop missions into Sudan.

After some scary flights, the hot African climate and field length required the normal Alaskan 20,000lb payload be reduced to 18,000lbs or less. ("pitch up, gear up..!") The bags of maze (observed in the background) were secured on five to seven pallets in the cargo bay and rolled out the 'paratainer' door, one at a time. 
Obviously, this would require a minimum 5 to 7 passes over the drop zone, below 1000 feet. Often a drop pass would have to be aborted due to hungry people storming the drop zone! 
Spending so much time in a predictable low orbit is not the most fun in a war zone...  However, the heart-felt satisfaction of supplying food to starving people, and the seemingly plethoric observation of wild animals on the long, empty, low-level return flights to Lodwar, remains with me (not to mention the inherent involvement in flying a C-119 and the necessary teamwork requirement of Loadmaster / Deployment Crew (8) & Flight Crew (2) all being on the same page).

We accomplished the tasks. Thanks to the teamwork of all involved.
This Boxcar not only contributed significantly to the well being of starving individuals on the ground, she performed within a standard deviation of pilot expectations in hot weather and the occupants remain to tell the story.
Perhaps I should mention that all aircraft fuel was hand-pumped from 55gal barrels!
There was at least one engine failure and numerous bullet holes..."

Note from Webmaster: N3267U was reported stored at Nairobi, Kenya in 1996. That was the end of its flying career, because by end-2003 it was dismantled and trucked to Namibia for use in the movie "The Last Flight of the Phoenix". See profile of N3267U on my Website.

 

Alaska glacier flying
Alaska glacier flying with the Cessna 185.
Paul wrote: "Here's a shot I took through the windshield during a formation flight through 'One Shot Pass' on the way to Denali Base Camp on the Kahiltna Glacier. The slope of Denali is on the left.
The second shot is the Denali Base Camp. Both were taken in the early 1990s."

My visit in 2012 to Talkeetna and K2 Aviation


Paul Weston on Ruth Glacier
"Here's a photo of me and my daughter Ellora on the Ruth Glacier in the 1990s."

 

DC-7 N284 T&G Alaska
"Here's an Alaska ramp shot at Homer of a C-119, DC-6, DC-3 and DC-7 from 1983 (I think).
I have seen this DC-7 N284 (of T&G) when it skidded off the end of King Salmon runway, after an aborted take off...
It was something to see!. Whew!
Fortunately most of the damage was to the props, when the gravel in the overrun was hit while in full reverse."

N284 came to a cruel end, shot down over Africa with SAM missiles on 08Dec1988, mistaken for military planes:
aviation-safety.net/database

 

Rampshot 1980s Alaska
Another beautiful 1980s rampshot by Paul Weston, with a C-119 firing up an engine and the Carvair in the background.
Photo taken at Anchorage IAP, on the 'Gifford Ramp'.

 

DHC-2 Beaver in flight
"deHavilland DHC-2 Beaver along the west coast of San Juan Island,WA - mid 2000s."

DHC-3 Otter at the Bahamas
"DHC-3, with a new prop STC, which I flew from Victoria (Canada) to the Bahamas, in 2006:  Rough Duty!"
Karl E. Hayes wrote me: "I am sure this is N335AK, which actually crashed and was destroyed not long
after it arrived in the Bahamas, and has since been replaced by a different Otter."
N335AK crashed 09Dec2006 - see report Aviation Safety Network (ASN)

Paul looks back on this epic ferry flight: "It was great to get out of the Northeast winter weather that January of 2006 and head out to the Bahamas in Otter N335AK..!
As I recall, the trip was over 5,000 nautical miles taking over 40 hours.

It started in Victoria, BC and ended in Flamingo Cay on Andros Island, Bahamas. The via points included Salem OR, Medford OR, Columbia CA, Palm Springs CA, Truth or Consequences NM, El Paso TX, Waco TX, Mobile AL, Baton Rouge LA, Sarasota FL, Ft. Lauderdale FL, Nassau and Flamingo Cay on Andros Island.
Air Traffic Control was kind enough to allow us an over-flight of Typhoon-Katrina-Ravaged New Orleans. I rather doubt they had ever seen an Otter on floats so ATC's interest in us allowed observation of the devastation from anywhere we wanted to fly..
.
This DHC-3 had a larger STC prop that (I believe) came off a Grumman Mallard. It improved the off-the-water performance greatly!
Prior to its rebuild in Victoria, N335AK had a history flying for Wings of Alaska out of Juneau, Alaska.
Charles, the new owner, asked me if I would stay for about six weeks and fly his clients and staff around to various Bahama fishing sites while he became familiarized with the beast. I was greatly pleased to take him up on this offer..! Spectacular people, fishing, accommodations, and food. Not to mention the fun flying…"


Karl E. Hayes added to this: "The Otter had serial (c/n) 263 and was delivered to the Indonesian Air Force in 1958. It was imported into Canada in 1990 and flew for a few Canadian operators andthen went to Wings of Alaska.
After the ferry flight from Victoria to the Bahamas in January 2006, it unfortunately did not last too long down there. It crashed on take off from the water at Andros on 09Dec2006 and was destroyed, although thankfully without any injuries.
I could never find out what exactly happened, as no crash report ever appears to have been published.
Anyway, in March 2007 the owner Charles Bethel bought another Otter, N443CB, which he had converted with a turbine engine, and that one still flies for him."

 

B-25 Mitchell, WW@ bomber
Paul wrote here: "B-25 which we built up at Aero Nostalgia in Stockton,CA and which we flew to Australia during
mid-1980s  The first (and only) TransPacific B-25 flight since WWII !"
On this website www.aerovintage.com/b25news5.htm (2007) I read about a video produced on the preparations of this epic event and also provided me with the identity of this B-25 Mtchell bomber: B-25J 44-86791 (N8196H).
www.warbirdregistry.org/b25registry/b25-4486791.html provided a full history of this warbird:

History: 
Delivered to U.S. Army Air Force as 44-86893.
BOC: July 5, 1945.
SOC: June 1958.
- Stored at Davis Monthan AFB, AZ, December 1957-1959.
Ace Smelting Inc, Phoenix, AZ, May 18, 1959.
- Registered as N8196H.
Merrill & Richard Wien, Fairbanks, AK, May 19, 1959-1961.
Merric Inc, Fairbanks, AK, June 8, 1961-1962.
- Flew as tanker #5.
Frontier Flying Service, Fairbanks, AK, May 19, 1962-1963.
RJD Company, Fairbanks, AK, February 3, 1963-1967.
Aero Retardent, Fairbanks, AK, April 4, 1967.
Donald G. Gilbertson/James Anderson/Aero Retardent, Fairbanks, AK, December 1, 1967-1977.
Pacific Alaska Airlines, Fairbanks, AK, June 13, 1977-1979.
Donald Gilbertson, Fairbanks, AL, August 28, 1979-1982.
- Flew in blue USN scheme as Tite Pussy.
Aero Heritage Inc, Melbourne Australia, June 4, 1982-1985.
- Restored to airworthy, Stockton, CA, 1982-1983.
- Ferried to Brisbane from USA, December 20, 1983.
Australian War Memorial, Canberra, ACT, 1985-1999.
- Registered as VH-XXV.
- Flew as A47-31/KO-P.
- Last flight, November 30, 1987.
- Put into long term storage, Canberra, 1987-late 90s.
Yanks Air Museum, Chino, CA, March 1999-2015.
- Registered as N6116X, May 2002.
- Shipped from Sydney to USA, March 1999.
- Arrived at Chino with minor shipping damage, April 1999.
- Restored to airworthy, Chino, CA.
- First flight, June 22, 2002.

A-26 Invader "Pretty Patti" by Paul Weston

Paul wrote me on this in june 2015:
"This photo was taken (with my camera) in Stockton CA, ca.1984, after we flew the B-25 'Sprit of Australia' to Sydney.
Pictured is the Aero Nostalgia Aircraft Rebuild / Maintence Crew.
It was a thrill for me (hand on prop) to do the test flights on this A-26! This is one hot flying machine…

On one flight just after take-off with the throttles at climb power, the SCK Tower made a call. "Douglas N??? Stockton Tower has a request..." - "Say Request" - "Tower requests a low-level-high-speed-pass" (since there was no traffic, how could I say "no"?) - "Roger, returning for low-level-high-speed-pass."
Leaving the throttles at climb power, I pulled up into a right wing-over resulting in a 180 degree turn diving down to under fifty feet between the runway and the tower!
The speed quickly approached 300+mph, followed by a pull-up into a very high right chandelle back to original departure heading. "Douglas N???, SCK Tower, that's what we call a low-high-speed-pass! Thank You!"
I know I'll never forget that requested opportunity! (but wish I could have seen it from their perspective).

This Aero Nostalgia crew also did a significant amount of work on the B-17 in the background. While I did fast-taxi checks (and actually got the tail in the air), I regret to say I never got to actually fly the B-17!"

I have here the identity of this A-26 Invader, now known as 'Wild Thang'...
Serial #: 44-34766 c/n 28045
Civil Registrations: N67807 N1243 N910G N9150 N26BK
Model(s): A-26B
On Mark Marketeer

Name: Wild Thang
Status: Airworthy
Last info: 2002

History in detail:
Delivered to Reconstruction Finance Corp as 44-34766, 19??.
- Immediately put up for disposal, 1945.
Dianna Converse Cyrus Bixby, 1947-1949.
- Registered as N67807.
- Flown as Bendix Racer #91/'Huntress'.
- Fitted with bomb bay fuel tank for Bendix cross-country race, 1947.
Stanolind Oil & Gas Co, Tulsa, OK, 1954
- Registered as N67807.
Pan American Petroleum Corp, Tulsa, OK, 1961-1964
- Registered as N1243.
Standard Oil Co (Indiana), Chicago, IL, May 31, 1965.
Nine Ten Corp, Chicago, IL, Aug. 4, 1965-1966.
- Registered as N910G.
Paramount Trading Co., Vero Beach, CA 1968-1969
- Registered as N9150.
Miami Aircraft Ventures Inc., Miami, FL, 19701972.
Vicky Miller, Burbank, CA, 1977
USAF Museum, Castle AFB, CA, 1983
- Displayed as USN JD-1 "34766" port side.
- Displayed as USAF 34766/Mary Jo starboard side.
V. Mark Johnson, Lakewood, CO, Dec. 1984-1987
Donald Douglas Museum, Santa Monica, CA, 1987-1990
- Displayed as 434766/Pretty Patti/J
Larry Leaf, Willston, FL, 1990-1991.
David Brady, Cartersville, GA, 1991-1992
- Damage in mid-air collision with Brady's T-37. Accident Report on ASN
- A-26 landed safetly, Cartersville, GA, June 7, 1991.
Reva J. Brady, Cartersville, GA, Feb. 1992.
Museum Of Flying, Santa Monica, CA, 1993.
- Restored to executive configuration, Mojave, CA, 1993-1995.
Howard B. Keck/Thermco Aviation, Thermal, CA & Coachella, CA, May 25, 1994-2002.
- Registered as N26BK.

Source: www.warbirdregistry.org/a26registry/a26-4434766.html

Airliners.net has only one photo (at time of compiling this), a 2006 photo; but flying!


 

Paul Weston sent me these images in june 2015; he wrote: "The photo quality is poor, however the experiences of this time in the early 1970s were spectacular for me!
I took these shots of a DHC-3 Otter docking at the Channel Flying hangar in Sitka Alaska. The hangar was my temporary 'residence' with a sleeping bag on a cot…
While I can't pull the names at this juncture (other than Bill 'Pollock' Novcaski on the far right of the second pic), the pilots on the dock were very well known in Southeast Alaska for their bush-flying acumen.
I was the rookie…
This was the first single Otter I had seen up close and actually flew in. I couldn't believe how loud the PW-1340 was in the front seat! David Clark headsets weren't around then.
Perhaps you can figure out which aircraft this is (N338??). While I'm uncertain if it was this one, I know that around this time, an Otter landed on the water with the gear down and flipped over. As I understood it, the plane was heavily-loaded delivering cargo to a cannery not far from Juneau and the pilot had an extremely difficult time extracting himself from the aircraft… He made it out ok and the Otter was re-built."

DHC-3 N3382 by Paul Weston
Karl E. Hayes, an undisputed authority on the deHavilland DHC-3 Otter, provided the history on N3382:
"The Otter is N3382 of Channel Flying Inc, c/n 288.
It crashed 21Nov1978 at Crab Bay, Alaska when the pilot landed with the gear down.
The wreck was sold to a Canadian company which rebuilt it, and it flew for some years in Alaska, before having a turbine engine put on and it was then sold in Fiji as DQ-GLL with Pacific Island Air.
There are many photos of it on the Net, with an unusual window configuration. It flew tourists around the islands of Fiji. After a while they crashed it...
This time the wreck was bought by Harbour Air and brought back to Vancouver.
This was a few years ago, but it is still in store and has never been rebuilt (yet).
This appears to have been the only Otter flown by Channel Flying inc, who also appear to have flown a few Cessnas and Beavers and a Grumman Goose.
I suppose the Otter just did general charter work around the Alaskan Panhandle..?"

DHC-3 N3382 by Paul Weston


 

Paul sent me this image in April 2014:
Paul Weston and Chuck Yeager
Paul wrote: "Gen. Chuck Yeager was a friend of the lodge owner and would come up to fish numerous times every year. For some reason, I was the lodge pilot with whom Chuck preferred to fly!
It was an honor for me.
We remain friends and since he lives in Northern California, I'm able to cross paths with him fairly regularly.
Last year, I was invited to his 90th birthday party in Las Vegas. It was quite an event.
A few months ago I went flying through the Sierra canyons with him in his Husky. He still has the touch!"
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chuck_Yeager

Paul Weston and Chuck Yeager
Paul wrote: Another mug shot of me andChuck Yeager taken in King Salmon AK, circa early 1990s. I was fortunate to be flying Beavers for a rather sensational fishing lodge at that time.


Paul in a different setting: "An honor to fly, this 1928 (or '29?) Alexander Eaglerock, with a Curtiss OX-5 Engine.
Photo by aircraft owner Rick Livingston (NC206Y).

Alexander Eaglerock
Wikipedia: The Alexander Eaglerock was a biplane produced in the United States in the 1920s by Alexander Aircraft Company of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
It was a fixed-gear two-seater, and was offered in two models, one with a Hispano-Suiza 'A' engine of 150 hp (110 kW), priced at US$4000, and one with a Wright J-5 Whirlwind, priced at US$6500. The Eaglerock was also available fitted with a variety of other engines, of up to 270 hp (200 kW), with prices starting at US$2250.

 

"I have some photos of this DC-7 (N284 of T&G), when it skidded off the end of King Salmon runway after an aborted take off. It was something to see... Whew! Fortunately most of the damage was to the props when the gravel in the overrun was hit while in full reverse.
The cause of this fish-hauling DC-7 over-run was (apparently) due to an excessive forward center of gravity.
I could see the elevator in the full up position and the nose strut extending (my understanding was that both pilots were pulling back on the yokes), however, the DC-6 & DC-7 require quite a positive angle of attack for lift off be attained... The forward CG seemed to prevent this from happening.
The captain wisely made the decision to abort in the nick of time. It could have been much worse..!"


The moment of overrun...

DC-7 N284 runway overrun
By googling I came across the date of this incident: 02Jul1983. NTSB Identification: ANC83IA111.

DC-7 N284 runway overrun

DC-7 N284 runway overrun

Douglas DC-7CF N284 (c/n 45203/776) met a violent end, 08Dec1988; the following is from Aviation Safety Network (ASN):
Two T&G Aviation DC-7 planes were to be flown from Senegal to Morocco for a locust control mission there.
Both aircraft were following their flight plan on airway Red 975 at an altitude of 11,000 feet and were flying 1.5 miles apart. Both aircraft were attacked and hit by SAM-7 surface-to-air missiles fired by the Polisario.
The lead aircraft (N284) lost one of its engines and part of a wing and crashed. Five occupants, all fatal.
The second aircraft (N90804) lost an engine and suffered other damage, but it was able to land at Sidi Ifni, on the Moroccan coast.
Polisario soldiers thought the DC-7s were Moroccan military C-130 aircraft.
 

x
N6782L is DHC-2 c/n 820. Paul wrote: "Bare Lake, B.C. during mid-2000s.
For more pics & history see DHC-2.com

Paul Weston, Beaver pilot, at Sitka,AK
Paul wrote: "Yours truly, in Sitka,Alaska during late-70s Channel Flying.
I flew this plane 800 hours in five months on a Forest Service contract, then flew it down to Seattle. Whew!"

Rainbow over DHC-2 Beaver
DHC-2 in British Columbia. Kenmore Air mid-2000s.
N900KA is DHC-2 c/n 1676 (More pics & history details see DHC-2.com)


 

Paul Weston wrote (06Jul2015):
" I wanted to express appreciation for AOPA's August, 2015 'Free Spirit' Pilot commentary on Julie Clark.

The course taken in my life, while following a passion for flying, crossed paths numerous times with Julie Clark.
We first got to know eachother in Stockton, CA while I was involved in the re-building, testing and trans-Pacific flying of the B-25 "Spirit of Australia".
This was after numerous years flying radial-engine aircraft in Alaska (e.g. DHC-2 & 3, C-119, DC-6).
After returning from the B-25 flight to Sydney in the early 1980s I continued working as Chief Pilot for Aero Nostalgia at SCK.

Airshows were at their peak back then and I was nominated to be the 'Aerial Coordinator' for the first two Stockton Airshows. That is when I got to know Julie Clark from a closer perspective.
I often flew Jim Franklin's aircraft (Aerostar & Waco) to numerous airshows around the U.S and Canada and was somewhat familiar with being 'backstage' with the stars.
However, the presence Julie Clark was able to elicit in the company of individuals such as Bob Hoover, Bob Love, Charlie Hillard, Gene Soucy, Tom Poberezny, Jim Franklin, Art Scholl, Sean Tucker and many others, helps me fathom how the title of her memoir emerged: "Nothing Stood in Her Way".

The last time I was fortunate enough to interact with Julie Clark was in 2013. We had both responded to the honor of being invited to Gen. Chuck Yeager's 90th Birthday Party. Julie is well respected by Chuck for her aviation background, acumen and representation.
It was fortuitous for me to have actually flown Chuck out on numerous Alaskan fishing trips in a float-equiped Beaver many years ago.

Julie Clarke & Chuck Yeager
Paul took this birthday picture of Chuck and Victoria Yeager with Julie Clark.

The Birthday was a spectacular event highlighted by the 'Oak Ridge Boys' singing their respect, with the audience tearfully nodding in agreement, for a long time friend and icon, Chuck Yeager.
It was a gathering for which all who were invited and attended will never be forgotten."


 

C-119 and Turbo Goose in Alaska, by Paul Weston
Paul wrote with this photo: "I think that Turbine Goose in the background may be one of the first in Alaska..?"
It could be either N640 or N642 (c/n B-137), since they were the only 2 McKinnon conversions in those colors. I have
a nice topic on it on my Photo by Friends & Guests Page 33!

Impressive take off!
Fairchild C-119 take off from gravel dirtstrip in Alaska
Fairchild C-119 taking off from Ambler's 2.500 ft gravel dirtstrip

Gifford grading his ramp at Anchorage IAP
Paul wrote: "I absolutely guarantee that this is the only picture you have of Gifford grading his ANC ramp!"

C-119 incident at Dall Creek, Alaska
Here's another C-119, a spot of bother at Dall Creek,AK !
I could find no details to this incident.


 

Paul shared this on his Facebook:
1970s @Sitka
Paul Weston here: "This is Sitka in the late 1970s.
Eagle Air had a USFS support contract with 5 Beavers and a few helicopters. Since it was not under FAR 135
regulations, our flight time was not limited. I flew this Beaver 800 hours in about 5 months!"

Webmaster, RL: As Paul later suggested the tailnumber is N57741, clues & history on www.dhc-2.com!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Updated: 20-Jul-2017