Saturday, July 11, 2015

Airplanes and Related!

Airplanes are cool, there is no doubt about it. And old airplanes are even cooler. Today we'll look at a few planes (and related).

This first shot is from an undated, unlabeled slide that had turned a hair-raising shade of magenta. I did my best to restore it, though it still looks a little weird. 

A crowd has gathered to see a big 4-engine bomber up close and personal. I believe that this is a B-17 Flying Fortress; my brother agrees with me, adding the caveat that there were many variations on the basic B-17 design. Wikipedia says: " was a potent, high-flying, long-range bomber that was able to defend itself, and to return home despite extensive battle damage. Its reputation quickly took on mythic proportions, and widely circulated stories and photos of notable numbers and examples of B-17s surviving battle damage increased its iconic status". Nearly 13,000 B-17s were built over the years, but as of now, only 10 remain airworthy.

I am now anxiously awaiting a comment to tell me that this is not a B-17!

Here's one that is "related" to airplane photos; a picture of a vintage airport. In this case, it is Dallas Love Field, in a photo dated March, 1958. Love Field was Dallas' main airport until 1974, when Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport opened. 

Two nattily-dressed gentlemen pause in a parking lot full of fabulous cars (look at 'em all!). Pale blue was the popular color, though a single bright red number can just be seen in the background to our right. Did you know that Love Field was the first airport to feature moving sidewalks?

And finally, here is a 1957 photo of a Frontier Airlines DC-3, waiting to sweep you away to a destination west of the Rocky Mountains. Dating back to 1950, Frontier was formed by a merger of Arizona Airways, Challenger Airlines, and Monarch Airlines. As you might be able to see, their slogan was "Serving the Rocky Mountain West". The nose says "Sunliner Mesa Verde", so you airplane nuts out there might be able to find out more about this particular plane, if you desire!

Frontier Airlines ceased operations in 1986, though there is a new, different airline with the same name.


Nanook said...


I, too, am awaiting comments from the airplane-minded among your followers. But, in the meantime... The first car on our right is a 1953 Buick. The next car with the 'dapper dandy' in the grey suit almost leaning against it is a 1956 Ford. Opposite the gents is a 1956 Chrysler. And the white car behind the bow-tie(d) man is a 1954 Cadillac. The rest of 'em are kinda a blur.

(Will these type of hats ever come back-??)

Thanks, Major.

Anonymous said...

The DC3 was scrapped in 1968


Alonzo P Hawk said...

Wait these type of hats went out of style. I'm in trouble.

K. Martinez said...

I love the arrow design and paint scheme on the Frontier Airlines DC-3. It's a beauty.

Anyone know the difference between the 3-digit number below the cockpit and the 'N64424' number on the tail of the Frontier Airlines DC-3? I was assuming the 3-digit number was an inventory number and the tail number was the model no. but don't really know Anybody else know?

Major Pepperidge said...

Nanook, oh that Buick is the one that gets me. I have noticed other vintage Buicks before, too; once saw this ice-blue convertible that was one of the prettiest cars I’d ever seen! Maybe hats like that will come back in style when global warming takes over? Though nobody wears a hat in the new Mad Max movie!

Eric, well that’s a bummer! Only 11 years after that photo was taken; I wonder if it had been damaged somehow?

Alonzo, what is style, anyway? A series of artificial constraints imposed upon us by bourgeoisie arbiters of “taste”! Wear your hat with pride!!!

K. Martinez, I thought that was a “sell by” date. Don’t want to fly in a stale airplane.

Patrick Devlin said...

Oh boy! I get to be the one! OK, it's not a B-17. It's a PB-1. It's flying for the Coast Guard (you can just see "COAS" on the fuselage between the adoring fans) and they got these planes from the Navy and the Navy used a different plane designation system than the Air Force before 1962. Of course it started out life as a B-17G, with its chin turret now mounting the radome we see in the picture. The aircraft designation means "P" (patrol aircraft), "B" (Boeing Aircraft), "-1" (first variation).

I do loves me some airplanes, man.

And the "N" number is the FAA registration number. All airplanes still have these. The "N" is the prefix for the United States.

K. Martinez said...

Patrick Devlin, Thanks for the info on the FAA number. I've seen it a gazillion times but never new that.

Major Pepperidge said...

Patrick Devlin, well, at least I was in the ballpark, since you said that the plane started out as a B-17G. When I started investigating those planes, it seemed as if no 2 photos were alike, which made things interesting! Thanks for all of the great information!

K. Martinez, I am pretty sure that I knew about the FAA number at one time, but (as usual) it was forgotten!

Chuck said...

Sorry I'm late to the party - just back from a week at Scout camp.

I second Patrick Devlin's assessment on the PB-1. Only things I can add are the fact that they were originally built and modified for air-sea rescue work for the Army Air Force (today's USAF) as SB-17Gs and were designed to carry an air-droppable lifeboat. Some really good photos of the lifeboat in operation and additional information on the PB-1G in Coast Guard service can be found at

To the right of the PB-1 you can just see the tail and rotor of a Coast Guard HO3S-1 Dragonfly rescue helicopter, the Navy/Marine/Coast Guard variant of the AAF R-5/USAF H-5 and the civilian Sikorsky S-51 (the initial helicopter used by Los Angeles Airways, although not in service to Disneyland). This is the same kind of helicopter flown by Mickey Rooney in the 1954 Korean War film "The Bridges at Toko Ri."

From the photographic evidence I can find online, most of the USCG HO3S-1s seem to have been painted yellow throughout most of their careers, although at least one was painted in the aluminum and chrome yellow scheme used on the Coast Guard's fixed-wing aircraft of the period; an example survives in this paint scheme at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Arizona. The Dragonflies were retired in 1957 and the PB-1s in 1959.

More info on the HO3S-1G in Coast Guard service is available here:

And here is one of the scenes in "The Bridges at Toko Ri" featuring the HO3S-1 (with supporting appearances by Mickey Rooney and Bill Holden) -

Ken, it's hard to read in the photo, but it looks like the numbers under the cockpit on the Frontier DC-3 are 424, which are the same as the last 3 digits of the FAA registry number on the tail. Air Force maintainers and aircrew will refer to specific aircraft by the last three digits of the serial number on the tail, and large Air Force aircraft often will have those last three digits painted on the nose for easy identification on the ground at the other end of the airframe. I would guess that Frontier Airlines probably used a similar system.

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, wow, you sure know a lot about PG-1 aircraft! And even more about the HO3S-1s. I didn't even notice the tail/rotor of the helicopter. What can I say, sometimes I write these posts in a hurry. I don't know why I am so fascinated by old aircraft, since, like automobiles, I really don't have much knowledge about them. But they somehow carry a sense of history in their designs. Plus they just look cool. Thank you for all of your additions!

K. Martinez said...

Chuck, thanks for further explanation on the FAA numbering system. GDB readers together sure have a vast wealth of knowledge.

Anonymous said...

@Chuck, my Dad's old plane was tail number N65?70T (can't recall a missing number, pretty sure there were 5 digits and a letter), radio call sign was "Seven-Zero-Tango". I went through ground school, but could not afford the flying lessons and college too, so no pilot license for me. Our plane was small enough we did not need a nose tag too.

This is really interesting to see and read. My Dad was a civil aviation enthusiast/hobbyist, we had stacks and stacks of flying magazines in the house. Costs of keeping a plane have skyrocketed since then, I couldn't possibly afford the set-up that Dad had.

He just decided one day at age 50 to learn to fly. He went out, took lessons, bought a plane and flew around on weekends just for fun.

I'm older now than he was then, I need to do something equally off the wall. I'll give it some thought.

Thanks everyone for a really interesting thread.


Anonymous said...

Love Field is where John F. Kennedy's plane landed on that fateful morning in Nov. 1963....its where his open-limo procession through downtown Dallas began.