The Things It Carried
How an unremarkable Convair C-131H transported cops, patients, prisoners, and Gerald Ford.
- By Thomas DeFrank
- Air & Space magazine, July 2008
David Hume Kennerly / Courtesy Gerald R. Ford Library
(Page 3 of 3)
Last fall, the airplane was flown to Abbottsford, British Columbia, where a tank for flame retardant was mounted on the belly before it flew to its new home at La Ronge, near Saskatchewan’s forests. There it joined two other C-131Hs used as water bombers. All the work at Kelowna, which converted Ford’s airplane into a CV580a, has extended its life. “We intend to use these aircraft for another 20 years,” says Roberts. He cites the reliability of the airframes, the relatively low number of flight hours when purchased, and the low operational use projected for the fleet: typically 100 flight hours a year for each airplane.
So three-quarters of a century later, the one-time flying ambulance and hauler of presidents will come full circle, ending its career as a first responder.