Stratofreighter Flies Again



A restored C-97G Stratofreighter, owned by the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation, made its first flight in more than 15 years on Tuesday. The aircraft was restored by the foundation at Floyd Bennet Field in Brooklyn. On its first flight, the crew flew the aircraft to Ocean County Airport in New Jersey and back. The aircraft was delivered to the U.S. Air Force in 1954, so it didn’t participate in the Berlin Airlift. But it now is painted as YC-97A 45-9595, which flew in the airlift in April 1949, working with the 1st Strategic Support Squadron. That airplane suffered a landing gear accident at Rhein Main Air Base and by the time it was repaired, the Soviet Blockade was lifted. It was the only C-97 used in the Berlin Airlift, according to the foundation.

The foundation’s airplane was delivered to the U.S. Air Force in 1954, and flew for 20 years from several U.S. bases. During this time, it was converted to KC-97L standard with the addition of two J47 turbojet engines under the outboard wings. The airplane was auctioned off in 1986, converted to a C-97G, and in 1988 it was seized by federal agents and auctioned to a firm in Texas, according to the foundation. It was used for humanitarian missions to South America and to carry fish in Alaska. The foundation bought the airplane in 1996, flew it from Washington to Wyoming in 1998 and added its current paint scheme in 2000. It then was flown to South Dakota and Millville, New Jersey, in 2001, and was on static display during the 2002 Wheels and Wings Airshow in Millville. It then was flown to Floyd Bennett Field. The foundation says it plans for the airplane, which is the only one of its type now flying, to act as a traveling exhibit dedicated to the Berlin Airlift and the Cold War.