Dedicated readers (of which I’m sure there is one) will have noticed a lot of posts about C-54s and Carvairs. One example in particular caught my attention. It was first known by Douglas as construction number 10365 when it was built in 1944. This aircraft had a variety of military and civilian identities before its demise in a crash in Georgia (USA) 1997. A good potted history of the aircraft can be found at http://www.aussieairliners.org/dc-4/vh-iny/vhiny.html A much more detailed history (with the exception of its service in Australia) can be found in William Patrick Dean’s nearly exhaustive book on the Carvair – see the bibliography for more details.
The Aussie Airliners website notes that VH-INY (as 10365 was at that time) was one of two C-54s which Australian National Airways set aside for the Royal Tour of Australia in 1954 (the other being VH-ANB). I wondered if any pictures existed of the Queen with either of the Skymasters and ‘INY in particular. Standard image searching turned up nothing. After a while I had a look on Trove, the catalogue of the National Library of Australia, and I hit the jackpot.
Her Majesty visited Tasmania on February 20th, 1954, and a couple of pictures in the State Archives of Tasmania show two Skymasters which flew her and the Royal Household back to Melbourne. One of the photos shows her waving to the crowd from a very highly polished C-54 as she was leaving Western Junction in Tasmania. The aircraft registration letters VH-IN are clearly visible. – so if the other aircraft was ‘ANB then this must be ‘INY.
These are the catalogue records and URLs for the other images I found.
Photograph – Royal Visit, Western Junction, Queen waves from plane
Photograph – Royal Visit, Western Junction, Queen at the window of “Skymaster”
Photograph – Royal Visit, Western Junction, royal aircraft moves off
Photograph – Royal Visit, Western Junction, royal aircraft takes off
In addition to the royal connection, It is also possible that when 10365 was serving with Matson Airlines in the late 40s as N58003, she may have been flown by the American author Ernest K. Gann, who was a pilot with Matson at that time. Patrick Dean makes the point that Gann had an interesting scrape in another of their C-54s and wrote about it his autobiographical work Fate is the Hunter.
So that’s interesting. I don’t suppose that anyone at Aviation Traders or indeed any of its subsequent owners or pilots had much idea that 10365 had carried British Royalty or may have been flown by a famous author. These little details make research just a little bit more personal.