Saturday, January 03, 2015

The Miracle of Flight

I think I have mentioned my love of airplanes at least twice on this blog. As with my love of old cars, I know basically nothing about them, but just enjoy them as amazing machines that can also be beautiful examples of industrial design. 

This first one is so clear and colorful that it's hard to believe it was taken in September, 1949. 65 years ago! The picture was taken at one of the airports in Duluth, Minnesota (not sure which one, though). I love the dramatic sky. Are there any airplane nuts who can name the aircraft taxiing toward us?

This next one is undated and unmarked, though I would not be surprised it it is also from "somewhere in Minnesota". A floatplane sits at a dock, loading supplies for a group of fishermen. Years ago my dad took my brothers and me on a fishing trip up into Canada, and we flew to the lake in a small plane much like this one. Landing on a lake was a new experience! We were dropped off in front of our cabin and didn't see another human being for a whole week. The only sign that there were other beings in the world was the occasional jets flying high overhead.

Here's another one that looks like it could have been taken yesterday, but it is in fact from January, 1948. In this case the slide was helpfully labeled "Lake Kekekabic", which is a small lake in Minnesota, only a few miles from the Canadian border (and roughly 80 miles north of Duluth). I am presuming that the neat airplane landed to pick up some ice fisherman (notice the smoke pot to the right). Man, it looks cold there!

I hope you have enjoyed today's vintage airplanes!


D Ticket said...

The seaplane is the Parsons Airways Norseman.

Here's more than you need to know…

N29-31 CF-ECD
Registered to H. Lanctot, St. Felician, Quebec May 23, 1947 as CF-ECD and then to H. Lanctot and Boreal Airways Ltd., St. Felician, Quebec in 1948. Registered to H.J. Parsons and W.K. Parsons, St Felician, Quebec on December 20, 1950 and to Parsons Airways Ltd., Kenora, Ontario in 1957. Registered to H.J. and W.K. Parsons, Kenorain 1961 and then back to Parsons Airways, Kenora in 1964. Next registered to Tall Timber Lodge Fly-In Service, Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba on March 31, 1973 and then to G. Maryk and A. Ganchow, Lac du Bonnet, Manitoba on July 21, 1974. On June 6, 1982 the aircraft overturned in water during a forced landing at Dogskin Lake. Wings reported stored at Tall Timber Lodge and fuselage resting on shore. A 1993 report suggests plans for recovery and rebuild but no further word on this. It was deleted from the register on January 24, 1995 while owned by George Maryk. Assumed written off.

K. Martinez said...

I remember on one of my earliest trips to Disneyland, I was flying with my dad in a commercial airliner that was propeller driven like the one in the first image. It was the one and only time I flew in one. I remember because my dad was explaining to me how it worked. After that it was jet planes.

That fishing trip up in Canada with your dad and brothers sounds like a great memory. Landing on the lake must've been exciting. I love experiences like that. Thanks, Major.

Anonymous said...

First photo, I believe, is a Convair CV240

Chuck said...

Anonymous - That was my first reaction, too, but the elevators are too high on the empennage and the paint scheme doesn't match any 240 operator I could find.

Digging further, I'm confident this is a Northwest Orient Airlines Martin 2-0-2. Only 47 2-0-2's were built, and only one survives today on display at the Aviation Hall of Fame and Museum of New Jersey in Teterboro.

Bouncing between tasks this morning, so will have to do deeper analysis later but it looks like a Piper Cub or two in the background of the first photo and maybe a Waco Cabin Biplane in the snow in the third photo.

Alonzo P Hawk said...

I'm no plane buff but still love them like you do.

When I see photos like these I am reminded of some my favorite classic "Airplane" movies such as The High and the Mighty, Island in the Sky and The Flight of the Phoenix to name a few.

Thanks for posting and for mixing it up a bit. Great shots with a lot going on.

Major Pepperidge said...

D-Ticket, awww, I was reading the plane's history and actually felt bad when it overturned on Dogskin Lake. By the way, terrible name for a lake! I'm assuming that, with a bit more care (or better pilots), the plane could still be flying today.

K. Martinez, we used to take smaller airlines ("Allegheny Airlines" was one) that sometimes still used propeller planes. It was such a novelty, though I seem to remember it being very noisy. We also used one in Alaska once. Yes, that fishing trip was quite an experience - one that my mom was very happy to miss!

Anon, I know there is not much to go by, with that strange angle. I sure have no idea!

Chuck, maybe the Martin 2-0-2 that is in this photo is the one that still survives! "Empennage", that's a new word for me… had to look it up. Sounds like you know your planes, unlike me.

Alonzo, I do love "The Flight of the Phoenix" which I saw a few years ago on Turner Classic Movies. I also saw another James Stewart movie called "Strategic Air Command", I still can't believe how huge that B-36 was!

Chuck said... we go...the airplane in the snow in the third photo is NC4470 (later officially shortened to N4470 in 1949, although the “C” wasn’t required to be painted out), a Waco Custom Cabin ZGC-7, company serial number 4576, built in 1937 by the Waco Aircraft Company of Troy, Ohio.

In 1939, it became one of two aircraft operated by the Flight Department of the Four Wheel Drive Auto Company of Badger, WI, which later morphed into Wisconsin Central Airlines, North Central Airlines, and finally was absorbed into Delta Airlines.

At the time this photograph was taken, NC2270 was operated by Lakehead Airways out of Duluth, MN, which is barely visible on the side of the fuselage, partly obscured by a wing strut. Unfortunately, the only information I’ve been able to find about Lakehead Airways is a 1947 record suspending and reinstating a flight school license issued to the company, but it at least establishes that they were operating out of Duluth Airport in the era the photo was taken.

On the afternoon of 2 Sep 1970, N2270 crashed for undetermined reasons near Lawton, MI. The 68-year-old pilot - the only person aboard - was killed on impact. The wreckage caught fire and was written off as damaged beyond repair.

I found a few photos of the same airplane on a website for Waco collectors and enthusiasts, but unfortunately there's no caption for any of the photos so I don't know when or where they were taken:

...and I’m all researched out for a while. Maybe somebody else can chime in on the light aircraft in the background of the first photo.

Great set today, Major! Thanks a bunch!

Chuck said...

Sorry - fat-fingered part of my research project report above. All references should be for NC2270/N2270, not 4470. I guess I spent so much time staring at the computer screen I started seeing double.

Unknown said...

Great shots and story Major.

And I thought I was a propellor-head! I bow to some serious plane-spotters.

Great pull on the Martin ID, Chuck. I thought the vertical tail screamed Convair and I was satisfied with that as my ID. Nice work there.

I'll just humbly add that when talking about aircraft Waco is pronounced "Wock-Oh".

Chuck said...

Thanks, Patrick. I really wouldn't consider myself an expert, but it's nice to see that junior high weekends spent haunting the USAF Museum at Wright-Patterson weren't a total waste... :-)

A couple of more airplane type IDs for the first photo, although not so detailed as for the Waco...the yellow aircraft is definitely a Piper J-3 Cub and the silver plane to the right of that is a Republic RC-3 Seabee amphibian.

Major Pepperidge said...

Chuck, whoa, amazing that you actually found pictures of the SAME PLANE! It's funny, the black and white photo looks older than my photo, and yet the pain job somehow looks more modern. Sounds like Lakehead Airways might have ferried fisherman, just like the plane that I took years ago. Thanks for doing all the research!!

Patrick, I can't call myself a propeller head, though I do love planes. There is still a romance to flying, especially when you think about the photos from the 1940's. Thanks for the pronunciation guide, since I was pronouncing "Waco" like the city in Texas.

Chuck again, I almost feel guilty for inspiring you to do so much online sleuthing on your Saturday! But I guess you wouldn't have done it if you didn't enjoy it.

Unknown said...

I'm not sure how I came across this page and photo but Lakehead Airways was owned by my great grandfather from 1935 until 1950 when he died in a plane crash near Ladysmith, Wisconsin. His name was Sulho Nikolas Niemi ("Nick"). During WWII he trained men to fly for the military but most of his business was charter flying for businesses and businessmen. This included charter flying for sportsmen who wanted to go on fishing trips in Minnesota and Canada. He flew out of the Duluth Airport.
Where did you get this photo? I will do some research myself to find out more about this photo. Thanks for sharing!!!!

Al Courtney said...

The Northwest twin in the first picture is a Martin 202, that company's entry into the anticipated post-WW2 "DC-3 Replacement" market, direct competitor of the Convair 240, and progenitor of the more successful M-404. The 202 suffered from a lack of cabin pressurization (which the Convair had) and premature metal fatigue (Northwest lost one with all souls when one wing separated inflight). The 404 went a long way toward fixing the 202's short-comings (including the addition of pressurization), and TWA and Eastern operated large fleets of the type. As I recall, most of Northwest's 202 fleet eventually found its way to South America...

As near as I can tell, the aircraft in the back ground are (from right to left): Republic Seabee, Piper Cub or Taylorcraft, possibly a Cessna 120, and what appears to be a Luscombe 8. I'd love to see a larger version of that photo!

Major Pepperidge said...

Nathan Powell, wow, that is amazing that your great grandfather owned Lakehead Airways! He sounds like he was a wonderful person. As for the slide, I just found it in a random box of old slides.

Al Courtney, if you see this, send me an email with your email address, and I will be glad to send you a larger version of that first photo.