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Photo ID: 1017018
click image to enlarge
Model: C-46F-1-CU Commando Registration: N800FA
Year: 1943 Serial Number: 44-78772, c/n 22595
Engine(s): P&W R2800 Owner: Atorie Air Cargo, El Paso, TX
Location: Tucson, AZ Photographer: From Chuck Ott collection
Date: 1985 Present Registration: VH-XUS Present Owner (FAA info):
Notes: 2/27/04 - Chuck Ott, an air tanker pilot from out west sent me this photo, along with B-17G N207EV and Lockheed Lodestar N56LH. Chuck flew the Lodestar for Atorie Air Cargo, and they also operated two C-46s on UPS and FedEx contracts.

The National Air and Space Museum now owns this C-46F, USAAF Serial number 44-78772, built as a C-46F-1-CU. The following three paragraphs are taken from their web site.

"Curtiss-Wright delivered this transport to Greenville Field, Mississippi, on September 26, 1943. The airplane cost the Government $233,000 to construct. It was stored at South Plains Field, outside Lubbock, Texas, beginning February 1946, and then transferred to Pyote, Texas, in August 1947. The U. S. Air Force dropped the airplane from inventory in January 1950 and sold it to the Flying Tiger Line for $13,000 on April 26, 1951. Now bearing Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) registration N67996, the Commando began a lengthy career as a civil cargo and passenger carrier.

Flying Tiger modified the interior and cabin doors on 44-78772 to accept passengers and flew the aircraft in this configuration for several years. In 1959 Flying Tiger Line sold the ship to Zantop Air Transport. Zantop became Universal Airlines in 1967 and the firm held a number of military contracts to transport freight to military bases throughout the world. Zantop asked the FAA to change the aircraft's registration from N67996 to N614Z in 1960. It remained with Zantop until March 1968 when the company sold it to the Aviation Association of Georgia. The association soon sold the transport to Martin Air Leasing for $25,000.

The C-46 remained in the contract air cargo/passenger business but continued to pass from owner to owner during the next few years: International Aerodyne, Trans Arctic, and in January 1971, the Canadian firm Ilford-Riverton Airways. The airplane wore the Canadian registration code CF-ZQX. Fairbanks Air Service (later Great Northern Airlines) bought the aircraft in May 1974 and obtained a new registration, N800FA. The NASM Commando retains this operational identity to this day. While attempting to land on a frozen lake 100 miles southeast of Barrow, Alaska, on May 17, 1975, it overran the landing area and crashed into the shoreline, suffering extensive damage. Following repairs, the Coffee Point Fish Co. bought the transport in May 1978 for $65,000 and sold it in April 1984 to Atone Air, based at El Paso, Texas. FAA records show another sale dated December 6, 1987, but the buyer is not named. It appears that the U. S. Government seized N800FA after federal agents broke up a gun-smuggling operation. The U. S. Marshall's Office in Miami, Florida, stored the aircraft outdoors at Homestead Air Force Base, Florida, and then transferred it to the Smithsonian on August 31, 1988. NASM lent the much-traveled C-46 to the National Warplane Museum in New York and it remains there today, after flying 30,487 hours in 44 years and 11 months."

Photo ID: 1017019
click image to enlarge
Notes: The art work on the tail of N800FA, in 1985.

I appreciate the photos from Chuck Ott. They connect us to some interesting history!
Photographer: From Chuck Ott collection
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