VH-OCW awaiting pax at Townsville.
Photo: Peter Keating © 05 November 1987 - Aird Archives
52-6074 in a Missoula mishap!
Photo: Peter Keating © 31 August 1973 - aflyinghistory.com
52-6074 with State of Montana Forestry.
Photo: Jay Sherlock © 1973 - Wayne Mutza Collection - Aird Archives


52-6074 • N47005



• 52-6074 USAF #1236. L-20 No: 237. Command AF-3. Delivered Jan-1953. Built as L-20A and re-designated U-6A in 1962.

52-6074 Photographed in 1973 with State of Montana Forestry logos.

N47005 Wipaire Inc., Inver Grove Heights, MN. Regd 29-Apr-1975. Canx 27-May-1987 on export to Australia.

VH-OCW Reef World Airlines. Also quoted as Great Barrier Reef Flying Boats Pty., Ltd., (Air Whitsunday), Airlie Beach. QLD. Regd 29-May-1987. Canx 05-Jul-1989 following accident. (See below).

Accident: Cape Richards Hinchinbrook Island QLD,05-Jul-1989, The aircraft was scheduled to conduct three round trips between Townsville and Cape Richards, with a stop at Orpheus Island on some legs, during the day. The pilot involved in the accident flew the first and third trips and another pilot flew the second. After the first trip the pilot reported that he pumped the floats out and considered that the quantity of water removed was normal. On the third trip he picked up a "standby" passenger at Orpheus Island. On arrival at Cape Richards the scheduled six passengers were loaded. A witness employed by the resort to handle the aircraft and passengers on the island reported that the floats appeared to be sitting in the water such that the water was above the normal water line on the floats. Examination of the aircraft loading indicated that the aircraft was overweight and the centre of gravity was just inside the rear limit. The pilot reported taxiing at 1613 hours with eight persons on board. At 1624 hours he reported that he was returning to unload one passenger. In that time two takeoff attempts into the north-east were made. The wind in the bay where the attempts were made was a light northerly. The pilot again reported taxiing at 1634 hours with seven persons on board. A further two takeoff attempts were made. On the final attempt the pilot did not taxi as far into the bay as on previous occasions. The takeoff was continued well out beyond the shelter of the island into an area where the wind was easterly at about 10 knots, and the swell was 1 to 1.5 metres. The pilot reported that the aircraft had attained an indicated airspeed of 55 knots, and he intended to fly it off the water at 57 knots. The right float had lifted from the water and it hit a wave which pushed the right wing up. The pilot was unable to lift the left wing which hit the water, causing the aircraft to cart-wheel. No injury to passengers but aircraft reported as destroyed. Investigation Number:198903789.

VH-OCW Seair Pacific Pty., Coolangatta, QLD.

Fate Unknown

USAF History

52-6074 was made available on 09-Dec-1952 and accepted on 15-Dec-1952 by the 6600th Air Depot AMO (Air Material Overseas Unit), at Downsview, ON., after which it was assigned to the Air Defence Command and delivered to the 34th Air Division at Kirtland AFB., NM., on 07-Jan-1953 and although it was still at Kirtland in 1960 in also visited a variety of other locations.

Emblem of 34th Air Division.

Its first foray to pastures new was to Williams AFB., Mesa, AZ., with the Training Command and the 3525th Pilot Training Wing between 20-Feb-1955 and 13-Apr-1955. It is said that at this time 25% of USAF pilots were trained at Williams.

Emblem of the 3525th Pilot Training Wing

It then returned to Kirtland but only for a short period because it went to Downsview for maintenance between 24-May and 30-Jun-1955 and then returned to Kirtland. Only until 15-Dec-1955 however, when it again was assigned to the Training Command at Luke AFB., AZ., and the 3600th Combat Crew Training Wing. This only lasted until 30-Jan-1956 as it again returned to Kirtland, this time for a lengthy stay up until 21-Apr-1959 when it passed to the Air Material Command facility at Minneapolis St Paul, MN., where it underwent maintenance at the North American Company Facility which lasted until 04-Jun-1959. Then it was back to Kirtland with the 34th Air Defence Division until Jan -160 when the unit was de activated and it passed to a unit with the acronym ALSX, presumably on of the many test units at this location.

Staying with the Air Defence Command it now moved to Hamilton AFB., CA., and was attached to the 78th Fighter Wing (Air Defence) on 04-Oct-1960 where it stayed until assigned to the Logistics Command and sent for storage at the Fairchild Aircraft Facility at Hagerstown, MD.

Emblem for the 78th Fighter Wing (Air Defence)

Its further USAF history is to be researched.