Whenever doing a project like this, I am reminded of the old Johnny Nash song “More Questions Than Answers” – which includes the line “The more I find out, the less I know.” This certainly applies here.
I am taking a look at the accident mentioned on the earlier Carvair post which happened at Griffin-Spalding County Airport, Georgia in 1997. The aircraft concerned was the fifth Carvair to be converted by Aviation Traders Ltd. in the UK. At the time of the crash it wore the US civil registration N83FA.
It’s a sad story and I don’t want to let my trainspotting activities detract from the fact that two men lost their lives in unfortunate and regrettable circumstances back in 1997.
What I have found out about the aircraft itself while looking around through the available information on the Web is:
- It started life as a Douglas C-54A-15-DC Skymaster (c/n 10365). The “DC” suffix indicates it was built at the Douglas Field / Orchard Place factory in Des Plaines, Illinois (now the site of Chicago O’Hare International Airport). It was delivered to the USAAF in August 1944 with the AAF Serial 42-72260 and transferred to US Navy as R5D-1 BuNo 50843 on the same day.
- There are at least a dozen pictures of this very aircraft at various stages of its life.
- It had a very chequered career between its construction in 1944, its conversion to a Carvair in 1961/2 and its demise in 1997.
- The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) documents relating to the crash are available on the NTSB website.
- In the history there is a certain amount of confusion between this specific aircraft and another Carvair, which bore the registration N89FA. This doesn’t seem to have been helped by someone in England painting a ‘3’ instead of a ‘9’ in the second aircraft’s registration number when both were sold in the 1970s.
- There is a book documenting the individual history of each of the 21 Carvairs. Dean, William Patrick. The ATL-98 Carvair: A Comprehensive History of the Aircraft and All 21 Airframes. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2008.
I also looked at some Google Map and Google Street View images to get a sense of the place where the accident happened.