Photo © R.Leeuw
This is a story that may or may not be representative for "Propliner Aviation", but it did struck me as material for someone's novel and that is something we find happening more often in this field of aviation. It has drama, deaths, determination to start again and....
This plane was for sale by Frontier and in fact late 2000 sold to Mr. Jody Pond of Galaxy Air Cargo, who operated a DC-3 under the name of Majestic Air Cargo. As fate would have it, Mr Pond died in the crash of DC-3 N19454 at Unalaska on January 23rd, 2001. Below you will find the NTSB report on this accident.
Galaxy Air Cargo went into bankruptcy after this accident.
Tom Abbe (sr.) had worked for years with Majestic Air Cargo and decided to buy N59314 from the Bankruptcy Court and has registered (sep.2001) his new founded company at Palmer,Alaska as Abbe Air Cargo. He was to serve the local community and was to pick up where Woods Air and Majestic Air Cargo now belong to history.. except by 2002 he had to conclude the business plan could not afford the insurance premiums.
This C-47A started its career, like so many, with a delivery to the United States Army Air Force on Jan.19th, 1944 and transferred to RAF Montreal as KG354 the next month. It made the crossing to the UK in March where it served with Nos. 512 and 437 squadrons.
C-47A N59312 (cn12363), Frontier Flying Service
Fairbanks,Alaska (August 1995)
On June 17th 1946 it was registered to the Canadian Government, which transferred it to the Royal Canadian Air Force later that year.
It had a long service life, but all good things come to an end, and it was stored at Saskatoon during 1975.
It entered the Canadian Civil Aviation Register as C-GABE, but only to be sold to Basler Flight Services in May 1978 and was reregistered as N59314.
Frontier Flying Service bought it that very same year and it was registered to J.L. Dodson (Trustee) in Fairbanks, Alaska.
In 1982 it was registered to J. Hajdukovich of Fairbanks and leased back to Frontier. Its career with Frontier was thus concluded (their fleet now only consisting of Navajo's and Beech 1900s) by the end of 2000 and found a new start with Abbe Air Cargo at Palmer,AK.
Credit: most of the historical information was found in J.M. Gradidge's "Douglas DC-3" (Air-Britain, 1984).
NTSB Identification: ANC01FA033
Nonscheduled 14 CFRPart 135 operation of Air Taxi & Commuter Galaxy Air Cargo Inc. (D.B.A. Majestic Air Cargo)
Accident occurred Tuesday, January 23, 2001 at Unalaska, AK
Aircraft:Douglas DC-3, registration: N19454
Injuries: 2 Fatal.
(Disclaimer: This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed).
On January 23, 2001, about 2135 Alaska standard time, a Douglas DC-3 airplane, N19454, was destroyed by impact and postimpact fire after colliding with mountainous terrain, about 4.5 miles northwest of Unalaska, Alaska. The airplane was being operated as a visual flight rules (VFR) nonscheduled domestic cargo flight under Title 14, CFR Part 135, when the accident occurred. The airplane was operated by Galaxy Air Cargo Inc., doing business as Majestic Air Cargo, Anchorage, Alaska. The Captain and the First Officer, both airline transport certificated pilots, received fatal injuries. Dark night, visual meteorological conditions prevailed. A flight plan was not filed. The flight originated at the Unalaska Airport, about 2130. (11 October 2001)
More details on Accident report N19454.
UPDATE 2018: N59314 R19Jul2017 to Barton M. Tiernan (former owner of N777YA, which crashed at Nixon Fork Mine Nov2015
and also of N50CM, which was sold to Preferred Airparts).
N59314 had been stored at ANC since May 2011; it was seen undergoing maintenance 23May2017.
UPDATE 2019: N59314 was reported on 01Aug19 at Kenai,AK with apparent damage; cause unspecified but expected to be repairable.
UPDATE 2021: Links with more information on Alaska 1995 & Alaska & Canada 2003.
UPDATE 12-2021: received (forwarded to me by someone else) a rather confusing email (without direct contact details of the sender nor any tec specifications of current status nor its c/n):
"Greetings from Canada.
I have just recieved, as a present this Christmas a copy of Hans Weisman's 'The Dakota Hunter'. Much like Mr. Weisman I've been captivated by the Dakota mentioned in the subject line (KG354 -RL, webmaster).
For several years now it has been a research project that led to the writing of a small 100 page book entitled 'Tip's Kite'. My father-in-law, J. C. Clifton Holborn (deceased) was a pilot with RCAF Husky Squadron.
He was co-pilot on this aircraft and through my research I've uncovered that this Dakota, flown initially by RAF 512 Squadron tugged Horsa gliders and dropped paratroopers for the Battle at Arnhem, The Bridge Too Far.
She was transferred to RCAF 437 Husky Squadron and was one of two Dakotas of 437 that flew the German High Command from Flensbourg to Reims, to sign the Term of Surrender for WW2.
Most notably Von Friedburgh and Joedl.
From the British Archives, who had copies of the Squadrons Daily Flight Logs, we have learned that 17 Dakotas of 437 Squadron were posted in Belguim for quite some time. They flew continuously for most of the month of April 1944, evacuating the souls that were interred at the notorious Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp. (The camp where Anne Frank had died some two months prior.)
I have also discovered that the Squadron's inaugeral Wing Commander J A Sproule was from Brandon, Manitoba, Canada.
The Man Called Intrepid, William Stevenson, was also from Manitoba.
One of Sproule's sons, Don, has advised me that Sproule flew Stevenson to many of his meetings. Stevenson was as, you probably know, one of Churchill's key espionage agents.
I am actively trying to find a group or museum that will give this currently airworthy Dakota a home to celebrate it's remarkable history. There is so much more to her story."
¬James I Vandermeer (Yes, born in Holland 1946 - emigrated to Canada 1949).
Webmaster's note (disclaimer!) to the above: I cannot vouch for the historical details above (no complete lists of sources or persons involved in the research), nor (I think) has the one who forwarded it to me checked it for the history described. I don't know the sender.
Also, I don't know what the status is of the sender (I don't know him): does he have a money stake in preserving
or selling N59314, or is he merely a concerned bystander, a propliner aficionado?
In my database (per Dec.2021) I have N59314 (c/n or msn: 12363) as 'owned by Barton 'Bart' M. Tiernan of Anchorage,AK since 2017 and reported by 01Aug19 @Kenai with damage, deemed repairable.'
Some online details per 29Dec21:
www.airport-data.com/aircraft/N59314 - 1944 Douglas DC3C C/N 12363; Registration Number: N59314 | Last Action Taken: 2007-09-18 | Current Status: Valid | Owner: Abbe Air Cargo Inc, Wasilla, AK 99654.
N-inquiry (FAA): N59314 OWNER TIERNAN BARTON M (Status: Valid).
And from ATDB.aero:
It seems to have been operated by Desert Air (leased?).
Flightaware has N59314 as 'took off from (near) Granbury,TX and landed after a short flight on 12Nov21 at Addison Airport (IATA: ADS) in Texas. Owner still quoted as Bart Tiernan.
Perhaps here for winter storage or maintenance?
EMAIL for comments please!
Tony Merton Jones (of the Propliner Annual magazine) wrote me:
"Hi Ruud, Good to hear from you, and an interesting e-mail.
You may be interested to hear that I hope to feature an article on Desert Air and its DC-3 operations (written by Dietmar Schreiber) in the next 'Propliner Annual' (due to be published in April).
A draft of the article is currently with Joey Benetka (current owner of Desert Air) and he has promised to share it with Dennis Gladwin (former owner) in order to ensure that our information is correct.
My understanding is that most flying is carried out by N44587, which is better equipped than N272R, and when neither of these aircraft is available (generally at the height of the summer, when business is brisk), then they use N59314 borrowed from Bart Tiernan.
It sounds like a fairly informal arrangement, rather than a lease, but I believe that all three DC-3s remain airworthy."
Michael Prophet told me he'd contacted Joey Benetka and was told N59314 on Desert Air's ramp, so not in Texas. It does so lacking one propellor at the moment, salvaged for one of the other DC-3s.
The cry of (premature) concern for N59314 was probably for an airworthy DC-3 being used to salvage parts from, but that is not uncommon, not even in modern aviation.
CASE CLOSED! /30DEC21.
Mike Goldberg wrote (30Dec21): 'Good video here, that was posted a few months ago..
Jim Vandermeer wrote an article in FlightLines (Jul/Aug2019) called "Tip's Kite, RCAF 437 Squadron Pilot'. Click the link for the Pdf version of that issue containing said article.
Jim also sent me these photos taken in 2017 (Exif: DateTime - 2017:07:17 13:08:28)
Jim wrote (Jan.2022): "The current pictures were taken in 2017, when I travelled to Alaska to see her.
A wonderful road trip of a months duration. It was a very emotional experience getting into the aircraft and being able to touch the co-pilot seat where Clifton sat. His navigator stood in for him at our wedding.
Clifton passed away when my wife was twelve.
I have been on a quest for several years trying to find a museum or historical aviation group to find a home for KG354. Her history is too important to loose.
I initially listed her with CAPA the Canadian Aviation Preservation Association and followed that up with personal contact with any museum or group in Canada that I could find. Some of them I've approached more than once."
C-47A N59314 on the ramp at Anchorage IAP (2017)
Gateway to DC-3 pages
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