Fairbanks, Alaska Trip in 2004

By: Category: Air FreightersAirlinersAirports Around the WorldAirtankersAviation History

Former Texas Air National Guard Convair C-131B 

It has been almost sixteen full years years since I made a magical trip  from New Hampshire to Fairbanks, Alaska. My main reason was to report on the Indian Air Force’s first deployment to Alaska, to participate in the 2004 Cooperative Cope Thunder exercise. Of course, there was ample time in my trip’s itinerary to go plane spotting at a new airport, and Fairbanks International Airport didn’t disappoint.

Curtiss C-46F in the foreground was once operated by the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force

Back then, there were many old propliners and former military transports still flying in interior Alaska. On the airport, there were dozens of older Convairs, Douglass, Boeings and even a Grumman C-1A COD! Some were flyable, others were picked of parts, still others sat engineless, but still seemingly intact. Most of the older transports were former military versions, with cargo carrying capabilities being a key to an aircraft’s continued use in the 49th state.

A Douglas DC-6B, not a former military C-118, wearing a well-known color scheme “Spirit of America”

Here’s a look at what I saw around the airport, including the Everts Air Cargo/Air Fuel and Brooks Fuel operations, from outside the fence. It was a great day weather-wise, with mid 80’s temperatures, but thunderstorms bubbled up to the north of the airport by noontime… pretty similar to my New Hampshire summer weather.

Built in 1957, this Grumman C-1A was registered to Fuel Services LLC… possibly a tanker?

Rare ATL-98 Carvair, operated by Brooks Fuel. It was destroyed in a non-fatal crash on approach to a non-improved runway at a mine three years later.

A 1969 vintage Cessna 207… it went onto the Canadian registry some years later.

One of my favorites of the trip, a Curtiss C-46F 

This C-54D is either a parts donor, or an airframe being readied to take to the skies again

This former Navy C-54D still has some of its military markings peeking through layers of paint

Northern Air Cargo C-118A freighter tucked away at Fairbanks.

Bustling Everts hangar with a C-118 and C-46 on the ramp

Taken through a chain link fence, this C-118A has two large cargo doors, the rear one has a passenger door built in it

After military service, this Fairchild C-119G had an auxiliary jet engine added on its roof

A former Navy C-131F sits with a hastily applied registration for its trip from MASDC to Fairbanks. One writer states that the Convair’s engines were reused for the Everts fleet of DC-6/C-118s

Another former Navy C-131F a long way from it’s previous home!

An odd duck… former C-47B Dakota delivered to the US Army in 1945, and after British Commonwealth service it was privatized and was used for electromagnetic surveying for minerals. Later on in life it was converted by Basler Aviation to a BT-67 turboprop. 

An Alaska Airlines Boeing B737-200C Combi, with freight in the front and passengers in the rear. The engines were fitted with a high pressure air spray assembly in front of the jet engines, about a foot off the ground, that used air from a turbine stage that kept an air pressure dam in front of the intake to keep rocks and other debris out of the engine.

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