1980s USA - DOUGLAS DC-6s and C-118s

During the 1980s, retired airline DC-6s and military-disposals C-118s were still in widespread use as freighters in North America.
This is a selection of my photographs taken during that decade.

Aerial Transit operated a fleet of freighter DC-6s from Miami, Florida in 1989 leased from the Bellamy Lawson company.
DC-6B N92BL seen at Miami in August 1989 waiting to be loaded for that night's deliveries

DC-6A N98BL at Miami August 1989 under a typical late afternoon Florida tropical sky

DC-6B N95BL operated by APA International Air, seen at Miami in August 1989 was another Bellamy Lawson lease

One of the pleasures of Miami Airport used to be exploring the NW 38th Street corrosion corner maintenance and freight ramps.
Gems could be found down the many service roads, like this Lineas Aereas Mayas C-118A TG-SAS  in August 1989

DC-6B freighter N371 at Miami in August 1989 was operated by Gomez and Warra Aircraft Corp.

An original DC-6 delivered to American Airlines in 1947,  N90747 was a freighter at Miami in October 1981

An impressive line of propliners at Miami-Opa Locka in October 1981, mostly DC-6s imported from Chile by Atlas Aircraft Co.
Closest is a former Fuerza Aerea de Chile C-118B FAC576

DC-6B CC-PJF in the Opa Locka row in October 1981 became N840TA with Atlas Aircraft Co

C-118A N2816J at Fort Lauderdale, Florida in October 1981 owned by Hill Air Co

DC-6B N11VX appeared operational at Fort Lauderdale in October 1981, despite the weathered paintwork

Fort Lauderdale in 1981 also had a number of retired DC-6s, like this former Mackey International DC-6B N4354B

DC-6 N906MA seen retired at Fort Lauderdale in October 1981 was formerly with Regency Airlines and Mercer Airlines

N906MA eight years later at Fort Lauderdale in August 1989 with other stripped airframes waiting to be scrapped

Former USAF C-118A N43867 was being loaded with freight at Fort Lauderdale in August 1989

Aerolineas Exaco Cargo, Costa Rica DC-6A TI-ALS at Tallahassie, Florida in October 1981 while impounded

Air tanker operator Hawkins & Powers Aviation at Greybull, Wyoming acquired two ex-US Navy C-118As in exchange for
retired military aircraft traded to the US Naval Aviation Museum.  N233HP was at Greybull in August 1989 with spray bars.

Hawkins & Powers Aviation's other C-118A N51599 was loading fire fighting supplies at Greybull in August 1989.

On landing approach to Anchorage, Alaska: a Reeve Aleutian Airways DC-6 ends its days in the airport fire service training area

DC-6B N7919C seen at Anchorage, Alaska in September 1981 retained its former Reeve Aleutian Airways paint scheme,
but was now owned by Anchorage-based Northern Air Cargo

C-118A N9045P of Ball Brothers, Anchorage, Alaska was among USAF surplus C-118s at Anchorage in September 1981

N9045P eight years later at Detroit-Willow Run, Michigan in August 1989 still in its basic USAF paintwork

Although jets had replaced the DC-6s of the main Detroit car parts delivery freight airlines by 1989, over on the far side of
Willow Run Airport Universal Airlines still operated a DC-6 fleet.  Here's their DC-6A N400UA in August 1989. 

C-118A N90444 in former USAF paint scheme at Detroit-Willow Run August 1989

Former Zantop International Airlines DC-6B N4913R retired and stripped at Willow Run in August 1989.
Zantop still operated from here delivering automotive parts, but their once large propliner fleet had now been replaced

DHL Cargo Airlines C-118A N9041B at Honolulu, Hawaii in August 1981. "US Air Force"can be read in metal on the nose.

DHL Cargo operated DC-6s on Hawaiian inter-island cargo services.  C-118A N9041B at Honolulu August 1981

DHL Cargo's DC-6A N613SE at Honolulu August 1981 at the former Lockheed Aircraft Service open-fronted hangars where
LAS maintained US Navy Constellations during the 1950s.  N613SE was once British Eagle's G-APON.

Many DC-6s were operated as fire bombers across USA and Canada, fitted with tanks to drop up to 2,800 gallons of retardant.
Sis-Q Flying Service DC-6B N111AN was at the Klamath Falls, Oregon USFS Air Tanker Base in October 1981.

DC-6B N111AN at Klamath Falls October 1981. The tanker base ramp is stained with red retardant spills.

Sis-Q Flying Service home base was Santa Rosa, California where their DC-6B N444SQ was seen in September 1981

Santa Rosa September 1981: Sis-Q Flying Service had recently purchased two DC-6 tankers N80MA and N90MA from 
Aerial Applicators Inc of Salt Lake City. These two 1948 models flew the Pacific together with British Commonwealth
Pacific Airways (BCPA) as VH-BPG & VH-BPH then stuck together through subsequent careers in NZ and USA.

N80MA still had Aerial Applicators Inc's trademark witch nose art which was used on all their tankers and sprayers.

N80MA tanker #20 eight years later August 1989, landing at dusk at Billings, Montana through the smoke of a nearby mountain
wildfire it was attacking. The DC-6 was part of a group of tankers which flew drop circuits from Billings until dark.

N80MA at the Billings Air Tanker Base August 1989.  Sis-Q Flying Service had by now been restructured under new name
Macavia International Corporation, whose motif is seen on the side of the nose.

DC-6B N66DG tanker #D2 of Aero Retardant Inc, Fairbanks Alaska was at Chino, California in September 1981.
It had been retired and sold to a Chino parts business which was just commencing parts stripping.

Just across the Canadian border at Abbotsford, British Columbia, Conair Aviation Ltd had a fleet of DC-6B fire tankers.
C-GHLZ tanker #45 was at Abbotsford in September 1981.

View of the Conair Aviation ramp and parking area of Abbotsford BC in September 1981: Grumman Tracker tankers parked
at rear left,  Douglas A-26 Invader tankers at rear right. The ramp is stained by the retardant red dye.


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