Alaska aviation in days of yore

Webp.net-resizeimage (3)Webp.net-resizeimage (2)Webp.net-resizeimage (1)Naturally, the true test of an aircraft’s load capability is the amount of beer it can get airborne. A rough count of the number of beer cases x the 24 cans (12 oz. each) they hold makes this load approximately 2,000 pounds. Easily enough done, but the trick is finding a pilot who won’t help himself to the cargo while en route. Wherever this aircraft is bound in Alaska, the people there will be happier for its arrival. 

The aircraft, a Pilgrim 100-B (N709Y), belongs to Star Air Lines and is, believe it or not, still in existence today. Comfortably housed in the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum, N709Y is still in flying condition. It has been a few years since it hauled a ton of beer, but it’s still a pretty good old aircraft.

Webp.net-resizeimagePioneer Alaska Bush Pilot John W. “Johnny” Moore poses with a ski-equipped Travel Air BW. With that open cockpit for an office, Moore’s furry ensemble will serve him well in the skies of Alaska.

Civilian B-17’s

webp.net-resizeimage (2)The Bomber Gas Station (1947-91) of Milwaukie Oregon was world famous.  The aircraft was removed for restoration in 2014. I can proudly say that I did make a point of stopping there for gas on several occasions. I recall that the wings didn’t offer much protection on a windy and rainy day, but who cared.webp.net-resizeimage (1)Starting life as 42-102715 (a B-17G), N66573 did a number of odd jobs before crashing as a fire bomber in 1979.webp.net-resizeimageimg221webp.net-resizeimage (5)Typifying the life of a surplus B-17, N117W started life as a B-17G (44-85806), went to the Coast Guard as a PB-1G, passed through several civilian owners and was destroyed in 1964. These 3 photos show it in when it was flown by the Biegert Bros. of Nebraska as an aerial sprayer.webp.net-resizeimage (4)Unlike most civilian B-17’s, those operated by Sweden were combat veterans. SE-BAN (formerly USAAF 42-3490) of Swedish Air Lines came to that country courtesy of the 385th Bomb Group (and German flak) when damaged on a mission to Berlin. Opting for neutral Sweden, the crew was interned and the aircraft put into service at war’s end. Unfortunately it was scrapped in 1950.webp.net-resizeimage (3)Another weary B-17G (42-3470) ended its days in 1962 while flying for the Colombian government. 

img2201959 ad from Flying Magazine. I did the math: $15,000 in today’s money is about $130,000.