|City/Town: • Rantoul|
|Location Class: • Industrial|
|Built: • N/A | Abandoned: • N/A|
|Status: • Abandoned • Private Property|
|Photojournalist: • Emily Cowan|
Never in my life had I ever come across something like what sits in a field out in Northeastern Kansas. A landfill of decommissioned planes that no longer fly, an airplane graveyard. Most of them virtually intact the model planes that call this field their final resting place include:
Douglas DC-3 “Skysleeper”
The Douglas DC-3 was revolutionary in making airline travel popular, it is internationally known as the greatest airplane of all time. C.R. Smith, President of American Airlines in the 1930’s insisted that designing start on not one but two new planes. One of those would be the DC-2 reimagined, longer allowing for more passengers to be carried. The epitome of luxury its nickname was the Skysleeper. The new and improved Douglas DC-3 allowed for twenty-eight daytime passengers and fourteen overnight. The first DC-3 was delivered to American Airlines of course and followed shortly later by a twenty-one seater “standard” version. American and United Airlines were the first two customers for the DC-3 and shortly after was desired by a few dozen airlines.
The Douglas DC-3 was comfortable and reliable, but one of its biggest reasons for success was it made air transportation profitable. AA’s President, C.R. Smith, said the DC-3 was the first airplane that could make money just by hauling passengers, without relying on government subsidies. This changed the airline industry entirely and by the end of the decade of its release, more than 90 percent of the nation’s passengers were flying on DC-2s and DC-3s.
After the great success of their D-3 model aircraft, the Douglas Aircraft Co. decided to produce a four-engine aircraft that was about twice the size of the last model. Developed in 1938 was the DC-4E to carry around forty passengers by day or thirty passengers by night allowing for full sleeping arrangements. After maintenance and manufacturing costs became too expensive to keep up with many airlines favored the simpler DC-4 Skymaster which didn’t become commercial until 1946. Only around a thousand were ever built and produced by Douglas Aircraft Co. This DC-4 flew for Central Air Services until around the mid-seventies and was then transported from General William J. Fox Airfield in Lancaster, California to Kansas in 2000 to spend the next twenty plus years sitting in this field.
Convair 240 “Big Sky One”
Delivered to the United States Air Force in 1955, “Big Sky One” is a Convair 240 model aircraft. The aircraft used to bear the name Montana on the back tip as well as United States Air Force along the side. It last served the 186th Federal Investigative Services Montana Air National Guard (“Big Sky Country”). Decommissioned in 1977 this aircraft resided at the Davis-Monthan Air Base in Tuscon with hundreds of other aircraft until 1992. It came to lay at its final resting place in this field in 2000 as a part-out plane.
Also on this lot sits two Cessna model planes, a Titan and a Turbo Skymaster. This Turbo Skymaster was deemed “airworthy” on March 5th, 1968. The pilot and one passenger plane while small in size is a sturdy reliable plane reaching speeds of 140mph. This Cessna 337 Turbo Skymaster has a history in Jacksonville Florida before coming to Rantoul Kansas in October 2014. Its last action date was on May 16th, 2017. The Cessna 404 Titan on this property was given an airworthy date of June 13th, 1979 with room for a passenger and pilot. It has a prior history in Indiana before coming to Kansas in October 2018 to retire.
Article by AKS Photojournalist Emily Cowan.
These planes are on private property but the owner’s nephew lives just next door and with permission will allow you to enter the property.
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