Propliners on US South/East Coast, 2005

Photos © R.Leeuw
--most of the photos can be enlarged by clicking on them--

Driving through, what looked like, a back entrance of Savannah IAP,GA we (my wife actually !) saw the distinct nose up shape of a DC-3 and decided to check it out: indeed N3BA of Jim Hawkins Air Service was here based on a contract.

It is really amazing that these Douglas transports still operate in a commercial role: 17 December 2005 will see the Douglas DC-3 celebrate its 70th anniversary, commemmorating the DC-3's first flight in 1935 at Santa Monica,CA !
Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed on the ramp here and this was the best shot I could take under the circumstances. -20Mar05-.
Nigel Aylmer took heart and sent me: N3BA by Nigel Aylmer

The trauma of 9/11 (2001) is still very much present in the US and people eye aviation enthusiasts with suspicion, bordering on paranoia; this attitude spoiled things for me quite a bit; it doesn't become the Americans, who normally display a welcoming posture towards 'strangers' ( "Hi ! Where are you from ?").

See my Photos by Friends & Guests (43) for a 2015 photo, 10 years later, at Jackson,MS.

In March 2017 I noticed N3BA was reg'd to Preferred Airparts LLC of Kidron,OH (per 15Mar17).
Preferred Airparts LLC (Ken Stoltzfus and his sons Ken jr & Brian) acquired exclusive rights to the AMI/Greenwich STC of Dodson, which allowed them to perform DC-3 turbine conversions, so maybe N3BA will be up for an upgrade..?

A nice surprise was the fact that this C-47A N3BA (c/n 12172) spent its early career in my home country: The Netherlands !
With USAAF serial 42-92378 it was delivered on 06Jan44 and transferred as FZ617 to the RAF on 30Jan44 and reported in the UK in Feb44 (48 Sq 28Feb44).
Its KLM ("Royal Dutch Airlines") career commenced as G-AGJT (registered R04May44 and named "Tureluur") operating from the UK; the registration was altered to PH-AZT that same date. The tailnumber was again revised to PH-TBA for the KLM on 08Jan46. PH-TBA transferred through Fokker Aircraft Industries (10Dec47) to Sobelair as OO-TBA (10Dec47). It returned as PH-TBA to NV Fokker on 10Jun48 and saw its tailnumber slightly revised to PH-TFB for Aero Holland, 03Jul48.
The website (=deadlink by 2017) mentioned NL-202 as a WW2 registration as well.
Its European career came to an end upon reregistering as N94530 for Mallard Aero Services in Jan. 1951, soon moving on to Thompson Productions Inc. of Cleveland, OH (also in 1951) and to Thompson Ramo Woolridge Inc, again in 1951.

At some point Transair Inc of Linden, NJ became the new owner and in 1966 it went to Air Sports Inc. of Houston,TX.
Valley Int'l Properties Inc, Brownsville, TX took control in May 1972 and 6 years later Airgo Inc. (trading as Variety Motors Aircraft Sales) was noted as the owner (Feb78). It went into private hands (on 11Dec75, but this date conflicts with "'Feb78" for previous owner) as registered to one A.Hulsey of Anderson, SC. Its Its southern stay continued when it was registered to C.Bowman Aviation of Anderson,SC (14May79).
Its present tailnumber was assigned on 02Jun79: becoming N3BA for Bowman Aviation operating as BO-S-Aire Airlines.

During the 1980s it was registered to Don Haynes Aviation (of Anderson,SC, reg'd Aug88).
Jacob C Bowman (Anderson,SC) bought N3BA on 11Dec90 and Robert McSwiggan of Fayatteville,GA bought it on 11Feb92 (it had been stored at Anderson for years by then).
After 1992 it was used by Piedmont Air Cargo (of Gastonia,NC: no relation to Piedmont Airlines) and on 18Mar99 it was bought by Jim Hankins Air Service. A price of usd 200.000 has been reported for anyone interested to buy this vintage and active Douglas transport.
Source: "Douglas DC-3 and its predecessors" by Air-Britain (1984), including the 1993 "Update 2 and World Survey" as well as my personal database.

Convairs at.... Beaufort County Airport (a.k.a. Frogmore Int'l Airport),SC; first of the three is N8149P. I was allowed to wander free here and I welcomed the old-fashioned Southern hospitality here. N8149P

Convair CV340-71 c/n 292 was delivered on 07Dec55 to the US Navy as a R4Y-1 with serial 141009 (redesignated C-131F in 1962). It operated with VR-1 at Norfolk in 1967 and operated from Naval Air Facility Mildenhall,UK in 1971. It was assigned to Guantanamo Bay on 21Jul81 and banned to desert storage (MASDC, inventory number IG023) 27Jan86-Oct96, while struck from the inventory on 02Feb88.
On 06Jul98 it was registered for the Beaufort County Council and reconfigured to sprayer to do battle with the mosquitos here...

In spite of the worn down appaerance the Convairs seem to do well, as I was told by the engineer here that he had to change a cylinder only twice in the past 5 years!

I have a Oct.2015 update, photo taken on 19Oct2015 at Pontiac-Oakland County AP,MI - by Gerben Groothuis

Update Nov.2019: 'Oakland County International Airport (PTK), Michigan is home to IFL Group headquarters and the company's maintenance base. N8149P was sighted there on 27Oct19: stored and for sale.

141009 in 1980
Dick Gilbert sent me this image, taken in 1980; he wrote:

"This R4Y-1 was indeed taken by me, at East Midlands Airport in January 1980, when it had diverted there because of an engine failure...
141009 was based at Mildenhall AFB, England in the 1970s and would fly personnel and documents up to the US nuclear submarine bases in Scotland. In Jan 1980 it had a starboard engine failure near East Midlands Airport, and diverted there in a hurry. Apparently there were no spare engines in the UK for it, so the engineers decided to repair it on site. The picture shows it during this work.
It took about a week before I saw it depart, accompanied by a lot of smoke and some loud bangs !"

On 23Jun2011 N8149P was registered to the IFL Group and reported as being ferried Chester Catawba Reg'l - Dayton on 07Apr11.

These Convairs sprint into action when the mosquito season starts... At first the flights are done in the very early hours, while later in the season the flights shift to later in the day. The photo show a close up of the spraybar.
close up of the spraying nozzles
It must be quite a sight to see these large transports zooming along on their operational alttitude of 130-150 feet !
There is a strict (meteorological) window of opportunity to be taking in account: temperature should not be below 81F (27.2 C), visibility not below 2 miles and of course there are wind conditions to be considered.

close up of Frogmore insignia
The airport here is officially called Lady's Island Airport, but is commonly known, jokingly, around here as Frogmore Int'l Airport: it is all "just a hop, skip or jump from anywhere" !
But there actually is a story to it...


C-131F N8149H

N8149H at Beaufort,SC
Convair c/n 291 was delivered as a type CV340-71 to the US Navy, designated R4Y-1 with serial 141008 on 30Nov55 (only a few days younger than I am and for once I think I'm in better shape !).
It was redesignated a C-131F on 18Sep62 and saw service in Europe: Naval Air Facility Sigonella (Italy) 03Jan74 and NAF Naples 02Nov74. It crossed the Atlantic for assignment at Guantanamo Bay (12May76) and was based at Bermuda 07Jan81. An insignia still adorns the aircraft stairs in that respect.
It was placed in storage in Arizona (MASDC, inventory no. IG028) during 29Aug86 - Oct92) and struck of the USNavy inventory per 02Feb88.

Registration as N8149H to the Beaufort County Council was in July 1998 and reconfigured for the role of mosquito sprayer.
In August 2010 the website showed it for sale, status 'airworthy'.

On 07Mar2015 it ferried from Columbus,Miss. to Opa Locka,FL for Conquest Air.

Update april 2016: This Convairliner was registered N345GS on 31May15 for Great Lakes Airways LLC of Dade County,FL. It flew its first revenue service for Conquest Air Cargo on 13Nov15, a flight to the Bahamas. N345GS joined CV340/C-131B N145GT in Conquest's fleet.
N8149H had been ferried from Columbus,MS to Opa Locka,FL on 07Mar15, where it was converted to a freighter and re-registered N345GS.
Conquest Air Cargo is owned by Carlos Gomez, Marc Wolff and Tom Cooper; not long ago they also bought 4 ex/ US Navy C-131s but they remain as yet at the facility of Aircraft Restoration & Marketing (ARM) in Tucson,AZ.

Convair N145GT C-131B of Conquest Air Cargo crashed off the coast of Miami on 08Feb19, when loosing altitude and attempting to ditch in the sea; one of the crew was rescued, the U.S. Coast Guard was reported still searching for the 2nd crew member (09Feb19) ¬

A few more photos of N8149H:

Peter Vanderpoel wrote me in August 2007:
Back in my early years of US Navy service, I worked on this plane at NAS Bermuda. She was known as the Pig...
I worked for The OMD department on base from 1986 -1988. We also had 2 UH1-N's for search & rescue. Since parts for this C-131 were scarce, we did a lot of creative repair work. Not to say un-airworthy, but custom fabricated.
This plane served as the main transport for base personnel to the mainland. Everyone used to complain about the old bird with a few emergency landings and blown engines, along with several breakdowns, but come time to board they were fighting for seats and every one was filled before she rolled out! I had hoped she would avoid the scrapyard and maybe go to a museum, at least she is still getting some use.
Peter Vanderpoel
U.S.NAVY Veteran
Rolling Thunder NC4
Patriot Guard Riders

I was allowed to enter N8149H and took a few shots of the cockpit.
A word of thanks for the hospitality here and the information kindly provided by Sean Mosher, the Chief Pilot.
Have a look at the photos Sean sent me of the cabin interior

Both sprayers (N8149P and N8149H) are for different use: one is used for spraying against adult mosquitos (a fine aerosol type of fluid is dispersed, over land) and the other one against their larvae (larger droplets, over water: Beaufort County has 276 islands!).
This aircraft was the U.S. Navy's Alantic Fleet Commanders aircraft until it was retired in 1986. It still has the Admirals interior.

In August 2010 the website showed N8149H for sale, status 'airworthy'.

N4444F (c/n 301) is the youngest, by a few months...

CV340-71 was delivered as a R4Y-1 with BuNo 141018 to the US Navy on 14Mar56 and much of its service life saw assignments at NAS Norfolk, Anacostia, Quonset Point going back and forth. Its designation was revised to C-131F in 1962 and ended up at the desert storage at Tucson,Arizona (MASDC -later renamed AMARC-, inventory no. IG031) in 1986.
It was registered N4444F for the Beaufort County Council on 06Apr98 and as the photo on the right shows: it is not fitted with spray bars! It is used for flight training and for representation purposes.

Propliner magazine, issue no.118 (Spring 2009) featured an excellent article by Howard Chaloner ('Beaufort Bug Bombers', photos also by Paul Filmer). It has many indepth details on the use of these 'warbirds' and also the fact that N4444F had been reduced to 'spares ship' for the other 2 flying aircraft. The date of Howard's visit was October 2008.

Source: My personal database as well as Air Britain's 1997 edition of The ConvairLiners Story.

In August 2010 the website showed N4444F for sale, status 'parts/scrap'.

UPDATE Aug.2011 by Nigel Aylmer:
"Called in at Beaufort CAP/ 'Lady's Island' today, 25Aug11, as I knew N8149H C-131F had left back on the 14Sep10 having been sold to Tide Aircraft LLC.
On arriving it was obvious the other two had now gone too!
N8149P departed 07Apr11 to IFL Group Inc and presume N4444F has been scrapped, as it was put up for sale as for parts or scrap. Departure dates from Flightaware. Sad day, end of an era."

This Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon has found its destiny at a mini-golf course in North Myrtle Beach (north side of town); it seems that Air Tropic is an existing company, in Belize however..
Historic details of this Lockheed Harpoon PV-2 N72707 (c/n 15-1458) are as follows: Delivered with registration 37492 to the US Navy on 14Nov45, but a bit late to join the war effort... Unwanted, it was stored, a fate which continued to at least 1952.
It was struck of charge, removed from the inventory, with only 620hrs flown on 17Dec56, It was sold as N7270C in 1957, but the first owner is unknown. It became converted for civil use in 1960 when registered to W.F.Patterson,Jr with a Certificate of Airworthiness issued on 02Aug60.
Dee Howard Company (date ?) probably fitted a cargodoor on starboard side at this stage.
Ownership went to Flight Investment Corp (1963) and to John B Miller in 1965.
An attempt was made to sell it abroad, the registration was cancelled and Exportadores y Proveedores Colombianos Ltda/EXPRACO of Columbia was mentioned as a buyer. But without a HK-reg allotted, it was restored as N7270C on 16Jan69 to Samuel E Poole,Jr t/a Lake Wales A/S, reregistered N72707 on 28Jan70.
This PV-2 Harpoon looked upon a new destiny when sold to Aircraft Specialities Inc on 28Jan70 (reg'd 28Feb70) and became converted for Agricultural use as a granular spreader (Oct70).... This conversion may have lasted until June 1971 (by R E Packard). And it was at Dorval-Montreal,Canada on spraying contract (May73), but found itself stored at Mesa,AZ during periods from Aug76.
Starting in the early-1980s it changed hands again a number of times: to Globe Air Inc (18Feb81, reg'd 27Apr81) and by 31Aug85 this PV-2 had only flown a total of 1975hrs !. It was sold in auction at Mesa,AZ to Warplanes Inc/Consolidated Aviation Enterprises on 24Oct85. The next year, 10Oct86, it went to Classic Aviation Int'l and on 21Nov86 Aircraft Acquisition Service Inc was registered as owner.
Hope flared when she was restored to warbird configuration in US Navy colours and markings 37492 "171/UP" by 1993 !
But sadly it was badly damaged while landing at Arcola,TX in Aug94 when she landed short. The starboard prop, engine, wing and belly were damaged...
The wreckage was sold to Early Flying Inc (apr95) and the registration N72707 cancelled as destroyed (29Nov95), but again registered as to John Lister during 1997. However, it became clear that this was not for a full restoration, when she was found preserved at the entrance of the "Mayday mini-golfcourse" on the north side of town in North Myrtle Beach,SC by Dec98 in a garish yellow colour scheme with "Air Tropic, Island Charters"-titles.....The distress call "Mayday" is probably quite fitting for the sad career of this Lockheed Harpoon !
Source: Lockheed Twins by Peter J Marson (Air-Britain, 2001).

In Fayetteville we visited the Airborne and Special Operations Museum
I was disappointed not to be able to visit the air museums on Charleston AFB,SC and Ft.Bragg,NC: extensive security checks since 9/11 now necessitate appointments or a "sponsor" (military relative on the base) to get on.

The Douglas C-47A "Skytrain" has c/n 12975 and was originally delivered to the USAAF with serial 42-93101. It never left the US, but was involved in training duties from 1944 - 1970 ! It arrived late in the 1990s (from the Parachute Rigger School at Ft.Lee,VA) at the Airborne and Special Ops Museum. It is now decorated with a fake tailnumber: "315623".
Thanks go to George Stefanski of the Museum for providing this information.

Being an aviation enthusiast as well as a self-proclaimed historian, I simply had to pay tribute to the site at Kill Devil Hill near Kitty Hawk,NC: the first successful powered flights, in a heavier-than-air machine, were made here by Wilbur and Orville Wright on December 17, 1903.
A plaque of the brothers and the monument 
Wright Brothers Photographs, 1900-1911

On March 30th we visited the Carolinas Air Museum, which is off-airport at the Charlotte IAP, NC. And an excellent museum it is !
N44V preserved in Piedmont Airlines livery This good looking Douglas C-47-DL (c/n 4545) military transport was delivered to the USAAF on 22Jul42 with serial 41-38596; it was assigned the civilian registration NC15585 at some unknown date and Vincent and Welch Inc took ownership in 1951.
In June 1963 Forest Leasing Corporation of Bradford,PA became the owners and in Dec.1969 the registration changed to N1916 (for Forest Oil Corp., Bradford,PA). In April 1971 is was registered to Crutcher Resources (Houston,TX), but almost 1 year later changed again to W.W.Connally of Floresville,TX. It returned to Crutcher Resources in 1977 and the tailnumber changed to N55CR.
At unspecified dates Aviation Investors of Houston,TX and Air Executive Inc of Colorado Springs,CO took ownership or operated this DC-3. In 1976 it was registered to Basler Flight Services of Oshkosh,WI (well-known for their conversions to Turbo-powered DC-3s, but that did not happen for N44V).

On 15Dec76 it was sold to a Canadian owner: National Aviation Consultants (Brelau,Ont.) and registered C-GQHK. In Oct.1982 it was sold to Big Bear Services of Waterloo,Ont., but this did not last long as Basler Flight Services took it back on 31May83 and it entered the US Register again, as N46BF.
On 29Sep86 Piedmont Aviation bought it and on 20Mar87 it was assigned N44V as tailnumber (though official registration took until 11Aug89).

Title of ownership was transferred to USAir Leasing & Services Inc (no doubt having to do with the merger of Piedmont and US Air, later to become US Airways) in March 1992 and again transferred in July 1996: to the Carolinas Air Museum (FAA registered 22Aug96).
Alexandre of added: "N44V was operated by Piedmont Aviation Services, a subsidiary of Piedmont Airlines, and owned by the Carolina's Historic Aviation Commission. In Piedmont colours."
Information provided by the Carolinas Air Museum; it did not state when that excellent interior was introduced.

A few more photos of the exterior and interior of this magnificent Douglas DC-3:
Close up of cabin seats; note the window curtains  Cabin attendant station including communication equipment  DC-3 N44V cockpit  N44V's well-polished fuselage  Piedmont's insignia on N44V
UPDATE 2019!!!
I understand the Carolinas Aviation Museum is to close this year. The current facility, originally built by Wachovia Bank (bought out by Wells Fargo) is now owned by the airport authority. Occupancy by the museum has always been temporary in nature - per the FAA 'until a legitimate aviation entity' came along.
Honeywell is moving their headquarters to Charlotte and the facility will become the flight department's new home. With no facility, no money to build a facility and no place to build a facility, there is reason for concern.
Hoping for a good home... (issue found on WIX forum)

At one time Saber Cargo Airlines operated several DC-3s from Charlotte,NC but they went under, tried to restart as First Flight Out Inc but apparently this did not work out. N12907 had a mishap on 26Sep2000 and ended up being the "hangar queen" for Saber Cargo. It was donated to this fine museum.

N12907, donated by Saber Cargo Airlines on their demise This Douglas C-47B initailly had construction number 15742 but since Douglas had duplicated a batch it was assigned c/n 27187 later on. Upon deilvery to the USAAF on 19Jan45 it was assigned its military serial 43-49926, only to be transferred to the RAF as KN258 on 23Jan45. It arrived in the UK and served 233 Squadron (Mar45), 435/436 Sqdn (07Sep45) and 435 Sq (17Mar46) before returning to Canada on 07Apr46.
It joined the RCAF on 20Jul46 (103RU) but there is a gap in its history afterwards.
It was assigned tailnumber 12907, for the Canadian Armed Forces; see Specifications and Historic Details for its Canadian service record.
It entered Canada's civil register as C-FPIK for Air Inuit in 1983. Thus ended a military career of almost 40 years !
Here I have another gap in its history: it moved to the USA on an unknown date, at that or later time was owned by the Fleming Corporation before being bought by Saber Cargo Airlines (1995?). Its tail had become N12907 and it was decorated in the USAAF camo paintjob, wearing its original USAAF serial "349926". Quite unique for a commercial enterprise !
Saber failed in 2003 and it was registered 03Dec03 to First Flight Out (more or less the same people, as I understand it) but to no avail.
Jeff Rankin-Lowe kindly wrote me a summary of his records on the history of N12907.

The museum had a picnic area which was also an excellent viewing area for the activity on Charlotte Int'l Airport ! It is located next to the end of runway 18L/36R, just across from the US Airways commuter terminal, I spent another hour or so to photograph airliners on take-offs and landings at Charlotte IAP. And I was lucky to see Convair CV580 N141FL of Contract Air Cargo taking off !
Viewing Area N141FL lining up for take off
N141FL (c/n 111)

N141FL on take off... N141FL: an oldie but a goodie..!
Convair delivered it as a CV340-32 to Braniff Airways in 1953 with tailnumber N3431, but apparently stored upon its delivery...
Texaco Inc registered it as N1622 on 12Jan54 and saw its conversion to CV440. It may have been reregistered as N16221 (29Apr60), but this tailnumber may never have been taken up. Next move is to Mead Johnson CO in 1960 and it was reregistered as N15824 on 07Jun65. General Motors bought it in April 1965 and this CV440 saw a conversion to a CV580 turbo-prop with a redilevry on 11Apr66.
General Motors reregisterd this CV580 to N5119 on 26Feb66.
In Dec.1974 it was registered to a new owner: Executive Aircraft Services, as N302K. In that same month it was sold to the Ford Motor Company (23Dec74), where it stayed for some 20 years !
The IFL Group bought it on 21Dec95. For which it was reregistered to its present tailnumber N141FL on 04Jun97. And reconfigured to a freighter after having carried passengers for over 40 years.
Contract Air Cargo is owned by the IFL Group, operating throughout the US as well as into Canada.
Source: Air Britain's 1997 edition of The ConvairLiners Story.

Take off by N141FL signalled for our departure as well and before we knew it a KLM 767 carried us from Atlanta back across The Pond...

North American Survivors, by Roy Blewett "North American Survivors" by Roy Blewett (Gatwick Aviation Society, 2005) is an excellent handbook to take out on the road or use at home as a reference guide.
It offers status and information on vintage transports (both propellor and jets) and are listed by Canadian and US States; there are three appendixes covering aircraft in Mexico, a listing of extant Beech 18s and “US Army Air Force Skytrains and Skytroopers; where are they now?”.
The book is in easy to use A5 format and fits easy in any size of bag. The 358 pages offer a huge amount of information and is of great use in planning a trip to N.America.
I hope others will follow in the example set by this book.

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Created: 28-08-03
Last updated 4.sep.2018