Aviation Historian 4
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D.Stringer - Fly America! (2)
“Ready to board!” - Douglas DC-3s of three of the USA’s local service airlines (Central, Ozark and Frontier) await their passengers at Kansas City’s Municipal Airport circa 1959. The Local Service Carriers (LSCs) transported passengers from big city terminals like Kansas City, served by major airlines, to smaller cities within their individual areas of operation, in many cases offering a level of service which has been unmatched since.
Frontier and Central DC-3s at Kansas City in June 1962. Note that both aircraft are converted C-47s, with the large cargo door adjoining the squared-off boarding door. Frontier absorbed Central through merger in 1967.
Lake Central Airlines DC-3 N14967, with a company Convair 340 in the background, in December 1963. Lake Central struggled through the 1950s, but was rewarded with a huge route expansion in 1961, after which it acquired Convairliners.
Pioneer Air Lines Douglas DC-3 N78021 on the ramp at Dallas Love Field in August 1950. Two years later, in a move that irritated the CAB, the airline replaced its entire DC-3 fleet with larger Martin 2-0-2s, but was forced to return to a predominantly DC-3 service. Pioneer merged with Continental in 1955.
In 1958 Trans-Texas Airways modified its fleet of DC-3s to its HiPer (high-performance) standard, incorporating mainwheel-well doors, streamlined oil cooler fairings and modified engine cowlings, increasing the type’s cruising speed by some 26 m.p.h. The upgraded aircraft were given the soubriquet “Super Starliners”.
Bonanza Air Lines was the first of the 13 permanently-certificated Local Service Carriers to retire its DC-3 fleet, replacing them with Fairchild-built F-27As. Reflecting the type’s Rolls-Royce Dart turboprop engines, Bonanza dubbed them “Silver Darts”. Here a pair await their next load at Ontario Airport, California, in 1965, LAX having been fogbound, hence the presence of the United DC-8 freighter in the background.
Bonanza Air Lines was the first of the 13 permanently-certificated Local Service Carriers to retire its DC-3 fleet, replacing them with Fairchild-built F-27As. Reflecting the type’s Rolls-Royce Dart turboprop engines, Bonanza dubbed them “Silver Darts”. Here a pair await their next load at Ontario Airport, California, in 1965, LAX having been fogbound, hence the presence of the United DC-8 freighter in the background.
Once again Mohawk got the upper hand in the equipment game when it became the first of the Locals to introduce turbojets into service. The airline’s first BAC One-Eleven, N2111J (c/n 029), entered service on July 15, 1965.
Riley Heron N14FB (c/n 14078) was used by Galion, Ohio-based GCS Air Service, an early Allegheny Commuter subcontractor, to replace Allegheny’s regular service between Cleveland and Mansfield, Ohio. Note the modified Heron’s Lycoming IO-540 flat-six piston engines.
Lake Central Airlines DC-3 N14967, with a company Convair 340 in the background, in December 1963. Lake Central struggled through the 1950s, but was rewarded with a huge route expansion in 1961, after which it acquired Convairliners.
Mohawk Airlines bested its local service compatriots in the equipment race by being the first of the LSCs to introduce pressurised aircraft in the form of Convair 240s. Here N1014C, acquired from Swissair in 1956, is prepared for another flight.
When Bonanza joined the pure-jet-set with its acquisition of Douglas DC-9-14s during 1965-66, it christened them “Funjets” and immediately put them to work on it most popular routes, including the much-travelled Los Angeles - Las Vegas segment. Bonanza’s first DC-9, N945L, was delivered on December 19, 1965, and is seen here in May 1968, shortly before becoming part of the merged Air West fleet.
Having studied the various short-haul jets on offer, North Central Airlines held out for the initial stretched version of the DC-9, the Series 30, which could carry 100 passengers comfortably in a single-class configuration. Under the long-term stewardship of Hal N. Carr, North Central became one of the strongest Locals.
In 1968 three LSCs (Bonanza, Pacific and West Coast Airlines) merged to form Air West. Howard Hughes acquired the outfit and changed its name to Hughes Airwest in 1970. Photographed at LAX in October 1978, DC-9-30 N9347 is painted in the company’s distinctive “Top Banana in the West” colour scheme.
Convair 600 N74856 of Central Airlines at Dallas Love Field in July 1966, painted in the stylish two-shades-of-grey-over-white colour scheme introduced by the airline the previous year, along with a new symbol, the “Aerograph”, which was applied prominently on the fin and in the company’s literature.
Frontier Airlines was one of several Locals to upgrade its piston-engined Convairs to 580 configuration by replacing the 340’s Pratt & Whitney R-2800s with Allison 501D turboprops and incorporating an enlarged fin and a modified tailplane. This 580, N73127, was photographed at Colorado Springs in October 1968.
Allegheny Martin 2-0-2A N93204 at Detroit Metropolitan Airport in July 1962. Unlike the 4-0-4, the 2-0-2 was unpressurised; craftily, Allegheny never used the 2-0-2 designation and only ever referred to the type as the “Martin Executive”.
Southern Airways was the only one of the 13 Locals to make the change from piston-engined aircraft to jets without employing turboprops in between. The airline flew Martin 4-0-4s, as seen here, until the last day of their authorisation for use by a certificated carrier in April 1978.
Lake Central saw the Nord 262 as its ticket to a bright future, but it was not to be; within weeks of this photograph of N26201 being taken at Washington National Airport in July 1966, Lake Central’s entire 262 fleet was grounded for investigations into a series of engine failures.