Tunison Foundation, Inc.
Placid Lassie




 

RFC

The Reconstruction Finance Company was a U.S. Government company from 1932 to 1957 initially set up to provide loans to state and local governments. After World War II, RFC was used to dispose of about 150,000 airplanes. Primary facilities for storage, sale and scrapping were set up at Albuquerque AAF (NM), Altus AAF (OK), Kingman AAF (AZ), Ontario AAF (CA), Walnut Ridge AAF (AR), and Clinton, OK. Between 1945 and June 1947 34,700 planes were sold to fly again and 26,900 were scrapped. In June 1947, the remaining planes at all but Altus were put up for a scrap bid.

Placid Lassie was sent to Walnut Ridge, AR in 1945. This facility was open until 1951 with over 10,000 planes sent there. Some were sold, but most dismantled and smelted down.

West Coast Airlines

West Coast Airlines was founded in 1941 by Nick Bez in the state of Washington in 1941 for the purpose of carrying passengers and mail based out of the Seattle area. However World War II got in the way and their certification wasn’t granted by the Civil Air Board until 1946. WCA bought C-47s, presumably from RFC, converted them to DC-3 specification, and started flying routes. They were based out of Boeing Field near Seattle, WA.
WCA was flying routes from Seattle, WA to Portland, OR by 20 Nov 1946 with two DC-3s with fleet numbers #101 and #102. Placid Lassie joined WCA as fleet number #106. One source says she was purchased in 1947 and another in June 1949. All of the first six DC-3s in WCA’s fleet flew with the airline until DC-3s were phased out in 1968.

From 1946 to 1969 WCA’s DC-3 fleet expanded to 15 planes. WCA bought Empire Airlines in 1952 expanding routes to Boise, ID. Routes later expanded to San Francisco and Calgary. F-27s were added to the fleet in 1959 leading to the first DC-3s sales in 1963. In 1967 WCA bought their first DC-9s. WCA then merged with Bonanza Airlines and Pacific Airlines in 1968 to form Air West. The DC-3s were deemed surplus and sold off with the last leaving the airline in January 1969.

Air West became Hughes Air West in 1970 when purchased by the Hughes Aircraft Company. Republic Airways bought Hughes Air West in 1980 which in turn was bought by Northwest in 1986. Delta bought Northwest in 2008.

Boeing Field, May 26, 1962                                                                          Boeing Field, Jan 1963

Aero-Dyne

Aero-Dyne Corp. was founded in Jack Volkel in 1965 and based out of Renton Airport, WA. Mr. Volkel was a captain for Northwest Airlines with 25 years of services retiring in 1967. Aero-Dyne’s main business lines were charters and aircraft maintenance. Another source claims that Aero-Dyne used their DC-3 for type rating training. Mr. Volkel operated Aero-Dyne until 1985.


Placid Lassie and seven other DC-3s from West Coast Airlines moved over to Aero-dyne, presumably in January 1969. These were the core of the Aero-Dyne eet through the mid 1970s. Aero-Dyne later purchased four other DC-3s.

Former employees have stated that Aero-Dyne was a non-scheduled contract freight company and that it operated 6 DC-3s. Flight International lists Aero-Dyne has having eight DC-3s in 1978 and 1979, six in 1980 and 1981, five in 1982 and 1983 and was not listed in 1985. Presumably the DC-3s were sold off by 1985. As for Placid Lassie we don’t know exact dates of when she was sold. There is a photo of her dated July 1982 at Renton Field, WA with Aerodyne colors.



Saber Aviation

The next stage in Placid Lassie’s career appears to be with Saber Aviation. Saber Cargo Airlines was based out of Charlotte, SC. At least six DC-3s are known to have been with Saber over the years. Saber went bankrupt 2003. It is thought that Placid Lassie was with Saber from 1984/1985 to 1992.

Express Air Cargo

As of 30 Sept 1992 Placid Lassie was owned by Jurmie E. Watkins, Jr. of Simpsonville, SC with a registration dated 10 Aug 1992. This registration was updated on 31 July 1998 and 24 June 2004 this time with Mr. Watkins having an address in Kernesvile, NC. Mr. Watkins was also the agent of Express Air Inc. which was formed on 16 Mar 1990 and dissolved on 19 Mar 2000.

Dodson International Air

Dodson is an air cargo airline that is based out of Covington Municipal Airport, Georgia. In the late 1990s they were operating four DC-3s. Photos from February 2000 at the airport show three DC-3s and Placid Lassie. She must have been sold to them between 1998 and 2000. Soon after being purchased she had major engine issues and was parked due to lack of funds for repairs.

And there she sat in tall weed storage at the edge of the ramp for a decade. Until James Lyle and Clive Edwards went looking for a DC-3 to bring back to life...
 






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