Where to still see DC-10s

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Bolivia, Canada, Netherlands, North America, South America, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 21-02-2014

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This month sees the final passenger flights to be operated by a Douglas DC-10, with Biman Bangladesh operating a number of enthusiast flights from Birmingham, UK, ahead of the retirement of their last example.

The DC-10 first flew in August 1970, and despite a few early setbacks including some notable crashes, it went on to be a very successful airliner used both for long and medium haul flying.

In recent years the number of operators has been dwindling, and with Biman retiring their last example it leaves only cargo and military operators operating the type. So where can you still see the DC-10? Here’s a handy list.

 

FedEx DC-10 at San Jose (c) Dylan Ashe. Creative Commons

FedEx DC-10 at San Jose (c) Dylan Ashe. Creative Commons

FedEx Express
Along with the US Air Force, FedEx are the largest operator of DC-10s today. With around 60 in service at the time of writing, they have all been converted to MD-10 configuration, which converts them to a two-man, glass cockpit to match their more modern MD-11 fleet. FedEx’s main hub is at Memphis, TN, and you can see their MD-10s flying many domestic and trans-continental freight routes. However, the airline is retiring its fleet at an alarming pace as it introduces more fuel efficient aircraft.

 

USAF KC-10

USAF KC-10

US Air Force
Also with around 60 DC-10s in service at the time of writing, the US Air Force uses the military KC-10A derivative. These are used as refuelling tankers and transport aircraft, supporting the air force in conflicts and war zones around the world. They are primarily based at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ, and Travis AFB, CA. The US Air Force initially said the KC-10 would operate until 2043, but it is thought the fleet will be retired much earlier than that as part of cost cutting measures.

 

Royal Netherlands Air Force KDC-10 (c) Sebastian Barheier. Creative Commons

Royal Netherlands Air Force KDC-10 (c) Sebastian Barheier. Creative Commons

Royal Netherlands Air Force
Continuing with the military variant, the RNAF owns three KDC-10 tanker/transport aircraft, which are based at Eindhoven Airport in support of peacekeeping operations around the world.

 

TAB Cargo DC-10

TAB Cargo DC-10

TAB Cargo
This Bolivian cargo operator has three DC-10s in its flee, one of which is an ex-FedEx MD-10. It operates cargo flights around South America and to Miami.

 

Kelowna Purolator DC-10 (c) Matthew Capina

Kelowna Purolator DC-10 (c) Matthew Capina

Kelowna Flightcraft Air Charter / Purolator Canada
The Canadian cargo operator has four DC-10s operating usually from its Kelowna and Hamilton bases, although two aircraft have been in storage recently.

 

Omega Air DC-10 (c) Phil Vabre

Omega Air DC-10 (c) Phil Vabre

Omega Air
Another tanker operator, Omega Air has a lot of DC-10s on its books, but most are in storage or in the process of being scrapped. The active ones are used to support military refuelling operations, and can thus be found operating all over on missions, including with foreign air forces.

 

10 Tanker DC-10 (c) Alan Radecki. Creative Commons.

10 Tanker DC-10 (c) Alan Radecki. Creative Commons.

10 Tanker Air Carrier
One of the more spectacular DC-10 operations are these converted aerial firefighting aircraft. Using two former passenger examples, these huge aircraft now fight wild fires and are capable of dumping 12,000 US gallons at at time. The aircraft are painted white and red, with 910 and 911 fleet numbers.

 

 

DC-10 Project Orbis

DC-10 Project Orbis

Project Orbis
Finally, another unusual operator of two DC-10s is Project Orbis – a non-profit organisation whose mission is to perform eye operations around the world to prevent blindness and eye diseases. These two Flying Eye Hospital aircraft are equipped with hospital equipment, operating theatres, and teaching facilities. Their N220AU aircraft was the second DC-10 built, and since then an MD-10, N330AU, has been donated by FedEx.

Solar Cargo
A Venezuelan cargo carrier with bases in Caracas and Valencia. They have a single DC-10 in a smart livery which flies throughout Latin America on scheduled and charter flights.

 

In addition to these active DC-10s, stored and retired aircraft can be seen at a number of the bigger storage airports around the US, including Davis-Monthan, AZ, Marana, AZ, Mojave, CA, Roswell, NM, Sanford, FL and Victorville, CA.

Best of the Web – Airport Spotting Videos – Bolivia MD-10 low fly-past

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Bolivia, South America, Spotting Videos | Posted on 25-10-2013

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It’s been a few weeks since I posted a video, so it will take something pretty spectacular to make up for that. Well, how about this video of an incredibly low and fast fly-past of a MD-10 freighter at El Trompillo in Bolivia?

National Airlines – where are they now?

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Australasia, Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Miscellaneous Spotting, Nigeria, North America, South Africa, South America, USA, Venezuela | Posted on 20-10-2013

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(c) Richard VandervordThe best-know National Airlines (there was a later one in the 1990s) was founded in 1934 as a Florida based carrier operating along the Gulf Coast from bases at Jacksonville and St Petersburg. It soon relocated its operating base to Miami International, and gained prominence operating to New York and Havana.

The airline used a number of slogans and titles to attract customers away from the big players, including ‘Route of the Buccaneers’ and ‘The Airline of the Stars’.

National became the first airline in the United States to operate jet aircraft on domestic services when it leased a Pan Am Boeing 707 to fly the Miami to New York link from 10 December 1958. This was a temporary measure until the airline’s own Douglas DC-8-21s were delivered in 1960. It later replaced older piston aircraft with Boeing 727s and was soon linking the west coast.

National Airlines DC-6From 1970 widebody Boeing 747s and Douglas DC-10s joined the airline. It adopted a striking new livery, which many will remember, depicting the Sun King emblem, with bright orange and yellow cheatlines, and also began flying to Europe.

Pan American took over National Airlines in 1980, adopting its domestic network to gain a much bigger presence within the United States. It also took on National’s ‘Sundrome’ terminal at New York JFK.

All of this is in my new book, Airlines of the USA, which looks at some of America’s most important airlines past and present.

I thought it would be fun to look at the aircraft National Airlines operated and see if any of them still exist today – particularly any flying examples. Given its iconic status as a famous airline of the past, wouldn’t it be cool to be able to fly on a National jet that was still operating?

National operated the following aircraft types over the years: Boeing 727, Boeing 747-100, Convair 340/440/580, Curtiss C-46 Commando, Douglas DC-4, Douglas DC-6, Douglas DC-7, Douglas DC-8, Lockheed 10, Lockheed 18 Lodestar, Lockheed L-188 Electra, Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation, McDonnell Douglas DC-10.

National Airlines Aircraft Today
These are the aircraft still in existence today:

DC-6 N8223H todayAfrica
B727-100 N4610 Derelict, Harare Manyame AB, Zimbabwe
B727-100 N604NA – C5-GAE Active, Gambian Government, Banjul, Gambia
B727-200 N4741 – 5N-BCY Stored, Polokwane, Nigeria
DC-6B N8223H – N84AU Cockpit preserved, SAA Tehnical, Johannesburg, South Africa
DC-8-54 N108RD – 3D-ETM Stored, Luanda, Angola
L-1049H Constellation N7133C – CF-NAL Preserved as restaurant, Sao Tome International
L-1049H Constellation N7134C – CF-NAM Preserved as restaurant, Sao Tome International

Asia
B727-100 N4740 – 4K-AZ1 Stored, Baku, Azerbaijan
B727-100 N898PC – P4-JLD Active, Government of Tatarstan, Kazan, Tatarstan

CF-NAL in Sao Tome today

Australasia
B727-200 N11137 – VH-PDL Active? Pionair Australia, Sydney Bankstown, Australia
B727-200 N8416H – VH-PDX Active?, Pionair Australia, Condell Park, Australia
Convair 580 N11137 – VH-PDL Active? Pionair Australia, Sydney Bankstown, Australia
Convair 580 N8416H – VH-PDX Active?, Pionair Australia, Condell Park, Australia

Central & South America
B727-100 N4509 – EJC-161 Aviacion Del Ejercito, Preserved Bogota, Colombia
B727-100 N5607 – HK-4154 Active, Lineas Aereas Suramericanas, Bogota, Colombia
B727-100 N4622 – YV-846C Stored, Caracas, Venezuela
B727-200 N2046 – FAB-71 Stored, La Paz, Bolivia
B727-200 N8417H – TE-004 Ground Trainer, Santa Lucia AB, Mexico
Convair 580 N2046 – FAB-71 Stored, La Paz, Bolivia
Convair 580 N8417H – TE-004 Ground Trainer, Santa Lucia AB, Mexico

(c) George Trussell

USA & Canada
B727-100 N4615 – N692AF Stored, Mena, AR
B727-100 N4616 Blue Falcon Corp, El Paso, TX
B727-100 N4730 Fire Trainer, Amarillo, TX
B727-100 N5609 Sunk as reef, Key Biscayne, FL
B727-200 N64320 3D-JJM Stored, El Paso, TX
B727-200 N11151 – C-FKFZ Active, Kelowna Flightcraft Air Charter, Kelowna, Canada
B727-200 N2041 – C-FTAP Active, Nolinor Aviation, Montreal, Canada
B727-200 N2042 – C-GRLQ Active, Nolinor Aviation, Montreal, Canada
B727-200 N8414H – N362Q Stored, Roswell, NM
B727-200 N8419H – N590X Stored, Columbus Rickenbacker, OH
Convair 580 N11151 – C-FKFZ Active, Kelowna Flightcraft Air Charter, Kelowna, Canada
Convair 580 N2041 – C-FTAP Active, Nolinor Aviation, Montreal, Canada
Convair 580 N2042 – C-GRLQ Active, Nolinor Aviation, Montreal, Canada
Convair 580 N8414H – N362Q Stored, Roswell, NM

Convair 580 N8419H – N590X Stored, Columbus Rickenbacker, OH
DC-8-31 N4901C – N90GTB Cockpit preserved at private home, Hot Springs, AR
DC-10-10 N66NA – N554FE Active, FedEx Express
DC-10-10 N68NA – N556FE Stored, Victorville, CA
DC-10-10 N69NA – N450AX Active, 10 Tanker Air Carrier (water bomber), Victorville, CA
L188 Electra N5005K – N281F Ground Trainer, Anchorage Ted Stevens International, AK
L188 Electra N5006K – N282F Stored, Detroit Willow Run, MI
L188 Electra N5013K – N286F Stored, Detroit Willow Run, MI
L188 Electra N5014K – N287F Derelict, Abbotsford, Canada

 

As you can see, former National Airlines aircraft can now be found all over the world, mainly grounded or stored. But if you head to Canada you could fly on a Convair 580 with Nolinor Aviation.

Did you ever fly with National? What are your memories of the airline and its aircraft?

 

Airlines of the USAAirlines of the USA

The new book by Matt Falcus which details the most important airlines to have come from America, from the early days of air mail through legacy carriers, cargo carriers, and modern low-cost airlines. Covers lost giants such as Braniff, Eastern, Northwest, Pan Am, and PSA.

Buy a copy here

Best airports to see active Boeing 727s

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Iran, Malaysia, Mexico, Middle East, North America, Saudi Arabia, South America, Thailand, USA | Posted on 15-02-2013

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Fedex 727-233The Boeing 727 is becoming quite a rare aircraft to see in action these days. Thankfully there are still a number stored and preserved around the world.

Most of the active examples are flown in cargo configuration, with only a few examples still flying passengers (see my Last Chance to Fly ebook for a list of airlines still flying 727s and other rare airliners).

So where can you catch Boeing 727s in action? Here’s a list of some of the airports which have a number of 727s based or visiting regularly.

USA
Memphis, TN – The main super hub for FedEx Express, which is the world’s largest operator of Boeing 727 aircraft. All of its -100 models are gone, but around 40 -200s are still flying and can be seen overnight at Memphis.

Detroit Willow Run, MI – Primarily a cargo airport, Willow Run is home to Kalitta Charters and its fleet of 727-200s.

Florida – A number of 727s operate out of Opa Locka in Florida, including a private example, and also out of Orlando International and Miami International airports.

Colombia
Bogota – One of the world’s busiest airports for Boeing 727 flights. Local cargo operators AeroSucre and Lineas Aereas Suramericanas operate a mixed fleet of -100s and -200s from the airport every day.

Lineas Aereas Suramericanas 727s

Brazil
Airlines such as Rio Linhas Aereas and Total Linhas Aereas operate a number of Boeing 727-200 cargo aircraft from airports throughout the country, with bases in Belo Horizonte, Curitiba and Rio de Janeiro.

 

Kuala Lumpur Subang
Formerly the main airport at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Subang is now a secondary airport used for cargo flights and aircraft receiving maintenance. It is also home to Transmile Air Services. Its fleet of Boeing 727-200 freighters can be seen every day, and photographed from a number of locations around the airport.

 

Tehran Mehrabad
The domestic airport in Iran is where you can catch the last passenger Boeing 727-200s on a daily basis, with both Iran Air and Iran Aseman Airlines operating the type for the time being. These operated to destinations such as Mashad, Kish Island, and Dubai.

Iran Aseman 727

Canada
One of the best places to catch Boeing 727s in action, the airlines Cargojet Airways, and Purolator operate throughout Canada. Their main bases, and thus the best places to catch their 727s, are Hamilton, ON, and Kelowna, BC respectively.

Mexico City
Mexico’s Police and Government both operate a number of Boeing 727-200s on official duties from the country’s main airport. Their flights are irregular, but not uncommon.

Saudi Arabia
Boeing 727-100s and -200s still operate in Saudi Arabia, with private and government examples, plus those operated for DHL out of Jeddah and Riyadh. Spotting is not easy in Saudi Arabia, however.

There are many more airports that both receive aircraft from the airlines listed above, and have their own based examples. Some that spring to mind at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Lasham and Southend in the UK, and Cochabamba in Bolivia, where passenger examples still flew until recently.

The chance to photograph a Boeing 727 is quite rare now, so why not post the pictures you’ve managed to take recently for us all to enjoy? And why not comment below if you’ve seen a 727 recently, telling us where you saw it.