A group of former Braathens employees organized the last flight of a Douglas DC-6. In the end, the demanding project succeeded with the help of a sled dog race winner.
The project began a little over ten years ago. A group of former Braathens employees had decided to bring a still airworthy, former Douglas DC-6 of their company back home, to Norway. The group found what they were looking for in Alaska, where Evert Air Cargo operated the former Braathens DC-6B with the registration number N151 as a freighter.
So they got in touch with the cargo airline without further ado. But she did not want to hand over the aircraft because she needed it for her flight operations. Rather, she wanted to operate the DC-6 until the end of her airworthiness certificate. But after that you can talk to each other. And that ended successfully now.
From Cathay to Braathens
The aircraft with the construction number 45496 was delivered to Cathay Pacific Airways on June 9, 1956 and came to Braathens SAFE on November 8, 1962. After several changes of ownership, Everts Air Fuel took over the aircraft. The company is part of the Everts Air Group, which includes Everts Air Fuel, Everts Air Cargo and Everts Air Alaska. After a guest appearance at Air Cargo Express, the DC-6 came to Everts Air Alaska in April 2004.
In the spring of 2019, the end of the airworthiness certificate was nearing and the group of former Braathens employees began the project to bring the DC-6 to Norway. The plane was to be taken to the Flyhistorik Museum at Stavanger-Sola Airport. Stavanger was chosen not only because of the museum, but also because it was once the Braathens technical center.
Financial support from the museum
The museum, which is run on a voluntary basis, is part of the Jærmuseet. And the latter was ready to financially support the “bringing home the DC-6”. In August last year, the purchase agreement was signed by Everts Air and Ole Johan Berg as spokesman for the Braathens Group; the transfer of the aircraft should take place in September or October 2019.
However, other problems should arise. Because of the wildfires that broke out in Alaska and the loss of another DC-6, Everts asked that the aircraft be postponed to 2020. It should really start on March 26th of this year. But then the corona virus came and the DC-6 had to stay in Fairbanks, Everts Air’s home base. In addition, the Norwegian krone had lost massively in value against the US dollar. And the sales contract was in dollars.
The airline boss flew in person
Thomas B. Wærner, the winner of the “Iditarod 2020” sled dog race, was stranded with his huskies in Fairbanks and was urgently looking for transport to Norway. After Robert Everts, the head of the airline, heard about Wærner’s bad luck, he got in touch with him and signed a contract with him and with Ole Johan Berg, according to which Wærner and his sled dogs could fly to Norway with the DC-6.
The fact that Wærner had a sponsor willing to fill the “dollar gap” created by the collapse of the Norwegian krone may have sped things up. And Everts insisted on flying the DC-6 to Norway as captain.
16 hours across the pond
It started in Fairbanks on June 1 at 6:38 am local time. After a five-hour flight, Buffalo Airways made a refueling stop in Yellowknife. Then the Atlantic crossing was tackled. The flight led over eastern Canada, Greenland and Iceland to Bergen, where the DC-6 presented itself with a low approach. Without landing there, it went on to Stavanger, where the plane landed on the afternoon of June 2nd after a 16-hour non-stop flight. It was probably the last transatlantic flight that was carried out with a four-engine piston-engine airplane.
Two days later the DC-6 was handed over to the museum, where it can now be viewed. Even if it will probably no longer fly, this DC-6 represents the time when the Atlantic was crossed with piston engines.
In the picture gallery above you can see images of the Braathens DC-6.
This text by Werner Fischbach Döbberthin comes from our partner Jetstream, the international aviation magazine. Here subscribe to.