The DC-3 ERA
A C-47 painted to resemble an Indian Totem Pole for Mr. Maurice Angly, a Texan who chartered the aircraft to transport grapefruit to Canada. The flight flew from Galveston, Texas to Vancouver, British Columbia.
By this time the war had been over for a few months and surplus DC-3' were becoming available. With the new airplanes added to our fleet, we had outgrown our facility in Long Beach and moved to Mines Field, which later became Los Angeles International Airport. The company sold one Budd to the Tucker Motor Company. They used it to transport their car to various auto shows.
Another was sold to a company in Cuba, and the last two eventually went to South America.
"BILL THOMPSON: We hired a lot of people, but those that weren't much good were soon gone, and the good one just seemed to stay on all the way through.
The DC-3, the only airplane available, was not a great cargo airplane. It couldn't haul a very heavy load, but in the beginning we were lucky to have anything to haul anyway. We had a lot of flower charters from California to the East Coast, and soon we were also hauling fresh fruit and vegetables.
We improvised as we went along and made a lot specialty flights that were profitable-- such as, Borden's "Elsie the Cow" promotions. That led to the realization that we could haul any kind of livestock. We transported Roy Roger's Horse, Trigger, and several racehorses. A DC-3 was billed as the World's Greatest Horse Ship."
"The company did not intend to cash in on their "Flying Tigers" fame but they couldn't escape it. The newspapers and radio reports gave a great deal of coverage to the new cargo airline. They seldom mentioned the name of the company, but referred to them as "Those Flying Tiger Pilots." As a result when they answered the phone saying "National Skyways Freight," there was often a pause, then the confused potential customer would say, "I was trying to reach the Flying Tigers."
"GOLDY: In the early days the company would hire a copilot on a trip basis. They paid three dollars an hour, and when the trip was over they were gone.
We flew DC-3s in the winter when the heaters would only work during descent. Many a night we froze our butt off. Tommy Haywood had found a hell of a deal on some military surplus Janitrol heaters. They were cheap, but we couldn't get them to work during climb or cruise. Maintenance went through them and found that they were made for the P-51 Mustang. They had a safety switch operated by ram air, and would not light until a relatively high airspeed was reached. When they reset the switch for the DC-3 airspeed, the heaters worked okay."
Things were not quite what they are today, with all the advances and fancy computer stuff, can you imagine trying something like this today!
"LARRY LUCCIO: I was flying captain on the Newark, Bradley, Boston run. We had an old C-47 with a military five channel radio. The only frequency it had that we could use was ground control. We flew this trip twice a day, so the control tower people all got used to us. We used the ground control frequency for everything--tower, approach and departure control."
"BUCK BUCHANAN: I hired on in Long Beach as a mechanic. Later, after we moved to Mines Field, my wife, Jerry, went to work in the tool crib. After we moved to Burbank, I went into the Engine Buildup Shop as a lead mechanic and Jerry became the secretary."
"BILL THOMPSON: I really enjoyed it, I was working maintenance with Jack Studer and Buck Buchanan. A few months later John Dewey and Jack Dupree came on. We used to work as teams and would challenge each other to see who could get our jobs done first.
We got an airplane in every evening and had to finish it that night. When the maintenance was done, we loaded the flowers or what ever else the cargo was. Bob Prescott came out and helped us load flowers on several occasions. We didn't care about shifts-- we just stayed until the airplane was done. It was really enjoyable. We looked forward to coming to work, and from then on we just grew."