Tag Archives: FH227

Prop It Up: Mohawk’s Incredible Weekends Unlimited

Guest Editor Dave Nichols

Mohawk’s Incredible Weekends Unlimited

In April of 1970, I took two weeks off from ‘work flying’ to do some ‘fun flying’ and visit family back in Pennsylvania.  Part of the reason for going home was to experience Mohawk Airlines “Weekends Unlimited” program.  The plan was so original and different:  fly most places in their system on Saturday and Sunday for a net fare of $33.95, with firm reservations!  The cool part was you could fly the entire weekend if you wanted to, literally stepping off one aircraft and onto another.  A few places were off-limits, like Canada and Minneapolis.  You could make reservations any time after noon on Wednesday for that weekend’s flights.  Mohawk (MO) would then issue real tickets for all the flights you were reserved on.  Wow.  Looking at the timetable, MO did not reduce the schedule much on Saturday or Sunday.  New York State and New England were areas I had not explored much.

I spent probably two hours in trip planning at home.  The timetable I used is still in my collection.  I made myself a few targets, wanting to be sure to get to Boston, Syracuse (SYR) and Providence (PVD), as I had never been there.  Utica-Rome, New York (UCA) was Mohawk headquarters and overhaul shops so that was a must-see, too.  Any other cities would be a bonus.  I carefully planned a chain of flights for the weekend.  There was a lot of trial and error involved, kind of like figuring out a maze.  I didn’t want to get trapped at a particular terminal with no alternate way out should weather or a mechanical occur.  Let me put the fare into perspective:  $33.95 in 1970 would normally buy you a 100-mile segment, round-trip.  You can see that the Unlimited Weekend was a real deal.

On Wednesday, at “noon :02” I made the phone call.  The Mohawk reservationist did not share my enthusiasm when I told her my plan.  I heard air gasping into her microphone.  She grumbled that a superior would have to be consulted since so many legs were involved.  There was a hint that no cities could be visited more than once.  I was not popular in her world and I was becoming aware that she could crush my plan like an empty ice cream cone.  After the huddle at MO’s reservation center, all was approved.  I told her I would even stop by the Utica res center on Saturday afternoon to say thanks – she declined.  I was reminded that I would have to be heading in the magnetic direction of home by 6:00 p.m. Sunday.  The woman sneered when she said the ticket counter agent would really enjoy writing 10 tickets for me.

I had decided early on to start and end this extravaganza at home – Erie, Pennsylvania – instead of driving the 100 miles to Buffalo.  More options would be available at BUF but I wanted to make this easy on myself; just pure fun.  Erie only had four Mohawk flights a day but it would work.  I even went to the terminal a day early to be ticketed during quiet time.  The lead MO passenger agent had been at the ERI station since 1956 and was a little rough hewn but he wrote my tickets – all by hand back then.  I did notice he was grinding his teeth.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Sister aircraft BAC 1-11 204AF N1127J (msn 180) “Dominion of Canada” in the 1965 delivery livery taxies to the gate at New York (LaGuardia).

Saturday morning, launch day, arrived with great weather across the Mohawk system.  My first flight was MO 197, a BAC 1-11, N1115J, from Erie to Detroit at 10:35 a.m.  I was flying in the opposite direction from the core of their system but Detroit gave me lots of possibilities and a seat on their new Detroit-Hartford non-stop.  How’s that for a local service airline?  Climbout from ERI is always exhilarating:  the wooded landscape as green as nature can provide, the sweeping peninsula with miles of sandy beaches and Lake Erie itself.  The 138 nautical mile leg only took :35 of air time.

Detroit-Metro airport was the springboard for an interesting flight:  MO 84 non-stop to Hartford, Connecticut (BDL) and then on to Boston.  The cutesy, 70-something seat BAC 1-11 would only need 1:30 air time to get us there.  Amazing.  The airplane turned out to be the same one that brought me up from Erie.  The crew had flown BOS-SYR-BUF-ERI-DTW starting at 8:00 a.m.   Their workday would be done back at Boston.  Off we went, retracing our steps over Lake Erie but a lot higher this time.  I could see the City of Erie from flight level 290, which was a first for me.  Flying across the woodlands of southern New York State is quite picturesque.  Hartford, a major insurance center, was a quick stop – only 12 minutes in the timetable.  We landed early, which insured an on-time departure.

Heading northeast to Boston I was able to make out the tip of Cape Cod to our right.  I imagined the PBA DC-3s shuttling in and out of Provincetown.  Boston was certainly weathered, both the city and Logan Airport.

The next flight was BOS-Providence (PVD)-Albany-Utica/Rome on another black/white/gold BAC 1-11. All these cities were new to me.   Flight 189 departed at 4:00.  Providence looked nice and seemed like a great place to live.  Albany, New York was a beehive of MO activity, then and before.   Mohawk used ALB as the staging point for service to upstate New York and Vermont.  Albany also featured almost hourly flights to New York City – even years previous with the Convair 240.  The FH-227B carried those loads in 1970.  Utica-Rome (UCA) is in a handsome wooded area, kind of at the feet of the Adirondack Mountains.   It was the bonafide headquarters of Mohawk.  We landed at 6:00 pm which amazed me that three cities could have been covered in just two hours.  Also, I developed an even greater respect for the 1-11, being such a perfect fit for Mohawk.  I only had forty minutes to walk around outside the terminal.  Mohawk’s large office building and hangar was impressive.  UCA was not a hub for MO but there were frequently one to two airplanes on the ramp.  [Today, UCA is no longer an airport; everything is X’d out].

I wolfed down a generic airport sandwich and headed for my last plane of the day.  I always look forward to propellers and the short 35 minute leg from UCA to Elmira, New York would be on a Fairchild 227B. turboprop.  I’ve never been a proponent of the FH227 but any prop ride is a good ride.  In May 1970, Mohawk was operating 16 Fairchilds and 15 BAC 1-11s.  Mohawk had plans to be an all BAC 1-11 airline as five FH-227s had already been sold off.  Amazing for a regional carrier to be disposing of aircraft that were bought new in 1966!

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Fairchild-Hiller FH-227B “227 Vista Jet” M7819M (msn 542)  “City of Albany” rests at the gate at Syracuse. N7819M also carries an additional Allegheny Airlines sticker as the end of Mohawk nears.

N7817M was ready to board.  I counted 48 seats and the flight was half full.  The scenic and famous Finger Lakes were off the right wing on this leg.  This was the type of flying you wish would not end.  Elmira (ELM) is a smallish city at the southern mid-section of New York State but generated good loads for Mohawk.  It sported BAC 1-11 service, as well.  I would overnight here.  Hoping to follow the crew to their chosen motel I noticed they still had some flying to do.  The first officer said they would go to Ithaca and on to JFK.  So I chose a nearby motel that offered terminal pick-up.  It was a family-run place, single story, with a parking space in front of each door.  Set back from the highway, it featured large swing sets in the front yard.  A classic.

The next morning was an interesting flight from ELM  non-stop to Washington-National (DCA).  I was impressed that Elmira would have such a trip.  MO 340, another FH-227B, N7813M, left at the civilized time of 8:25 a.m.  Even in the non-speedster Fairchild (about 180 knots indicated), the time enroute to DCA was only 1:05.  Never a dull second sightseeing on final approach and at the terminals,  Washington-National had already outgrown itself.  Airplanes were shoe-horned at the gates and three deep on the ramps, especially Allegheny.  Everyone should scope out DCA sometime.

A twenty-five minute connection put me aboard MO 41, a BAC 1-11 with non-stop service to Rochester, New York (ROC).  In fact, a quick look at my itinerary confirmed that all my trips today would be non-stops.  Mohawk was working at creating more non-stops and less of the 3-5 stoppers the regional airlines were known for.  Rochester, touching Lake Ontario, has the Genesee River flowing through the city along with the Erie Canal, forming an X pattern.  Eastman Kodak had a big presence in Rochester back in 1970.

MO 34 non-stop to Newark awaited at 1:20 p.m.  Just 55 minutes later the BAC 111 was swooping across the threshold at EWR.  The airport was a crowded place and well worn like LaGuardia, DCA and BOS.  Not much on my sentimentality meter, I was out of there in less than an hour.  Flight 57, a BAC 1-11, N1131J (an aircraft purchased from Aloha), non-stop to Syracuse was next.

Another comfortable leg of less than an hour, SYR comes into view.  Large Oneida Lake sits north of the city.  Erie Canal history permeates this town.  This would be my shortest connection time, only 19 minutes.  Ten minutes after pulling into the gate, flight 33 landed, inbound from JFK.  I joined those folks after just a fourteen-minute turn.

1970 Route Map:

We were off to Buffalo, New York (BUF) that only takes a half-hour.  If one is fortunate enough to see Niagara Falls on a visual approach, it is something to behold.  In winter, BUF quite possibly gets more snowfall than any city east of the Rockies.  Maybe more of us should see Buffalo in January so we can reconfirm how lucky we have it.  Buffalo was a strong station for Mohawk, lots of activity going to places all over their system.

I made a routine connection there to another MO BAC 1-11, N2111J (the first jet delivered for Mohawk) at 6:35 p.m. and proceeded home to Erie.  It is only 95 air miles and we landed at 7:00.  I visited twelve very different cities, set foot in eight states, for under forty bucks!  Had every segment been a FH-227, the enroute sightseeing would have been primo but I still gained the flavor of the geography.  Thanks Mohawk, for a genuine unlimited weekend of flying.

Write Dave Nichols at propitupblog@gmail.com

Read Dave previous articles:

What Allegheny Meant To Me: CLICK HERE

A Day with Southern Airways: CLICK HERE

Mohawk Airlines: 

All timetables, maps and logos kindly suppled by Airline Timetables.

The Timetable Chronicles: Ozark Air Lines (Part 2)

Guest Editor David Keller 

Guest Editor David Keller

The Timetable Chronicles: The World of Airline Timetable Collecting

Ozark Air Lines (Part 2)

The latter half of the 1960’s were eventful for the local airlines in general, and Ozark Airlines (St. Louis) was no exception.  Starting with Mohawk’s introduction of the BAC 1-11 in 1965, the local carriers began the process of adding pure-jets to their fleets.  Ozark went a step further, ordering DC-9’s and FH-227B’s to replace its entire fleet of F-27’s, Martin 404’s and the workhorse DC-3’s.  The July 15, 1966 timetable (below) is the first to show DC-9’s in service, with a single aircraft being put to work on a 14 flight schedule that served 7 stations, as indicated by the promotional ad in the timetable.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Please click on the photo for the full view and details.

Ozark Airlines: 

The December 1, 1966 timetable (below) shows the addition of the Fairchild FH-227B to Ozark’s fleet.

Service was inaugurated to 11 destinations with this timetable, and 4 additional stations were added 2 weeks later.  The type would eventually number 21 aircraft, one of which was lost in a crash at St. Louis in 1973.  The final revenue service (which I was fortunately able to ride) came on October 25, 1980 as Flight 848 from St. Louis to Chicago with a stop at Peoria.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. Please click on the photo for the details and the full view.

Another big happening in the local airline world in the late 60’s was the growing shift towards cross-subsidies.  The government had been subsidizing the local carriers to serve points that were generally unprofitable, while profitable routes went to the trunk carriers.  Now that the local carriers were acquiring jets, they had a chance to be competitive against the trunk lines.  Cross-subsidies involved awarding some of those potentially profitable services to the locals, with the idea that those profits could reduce the amount of the subsidies paid for the other operations.  In some cases, authority was given to operate non-stop flights in major markets where stops had previously been required.  Such was the case when Ozark was awarded non-stop authority between St. Louis and Chicago as promoted on the timetable dated October 27, 1968 (below).  By November 15th, the carrier was offering 7 nonstops in each direction.

In other instances, “bypass” routes were awarded from some of the larger local stations to major cities outside of the carrier’s normal area of operation.  Ozark would receive authority to Denver, Dallas, New York and Washington from places like Sioux City, Peoria and Champaign/Urbana.  The route map from the timetable dated October 1, 1970 (below) shows the new services as well as the acquisition of Chicago – Des Moines nonstop authority.

A number of local service airlines tried operating smaller aircraft that were generally considered to be commuter types.  Ozark attempted such a “commuter” operation beginning on March 12, 1972 (below) with Twin Otter service between Springfield, IL and Meigs Field in Chicago.  Flights were operated every 90 minutes on weekdays only.  This became a competition with the much smaller Air Illinois which operated a very similar schedule of flights on the route.  After less than a year, Ozark would drop the service, and Air Illinois would continue to operate the route for a number of years, utilizing an HS 748 for much of that time.

In late 1973 the airline world suffered the shock created by the Arab Oil Embargo.  Fuel quotas were established, and the airlines had to learn how to get by with less.  The impact on the local carriers was not as drastic as the trunk carriers, which removed many of their new but fuel hungry 747’s from service, as well as entire fleets of non-fan Convair 880’s, 707/720’s and DC-8’s.  The local airlines had no widebodies or first-generation aircraft, so their fleets were relatively efficient.

October of 1978 ushered in the event that has done more to shape the airline industry than any other, the Airline Deregulation Act.  This piece of legislation removed many of the barriers faced by airlines applying for authority to serve new routes (which had often been a slow and arduous process), as well as for entities wanting to create new airlines.  The initial result was the award of unused route authority to other airlines willing to provide service.  Florida was a popular choice for new service, and Ozark quickly began service to 4 destinations with their December 15, 1978 timetable (below).

Please click on the map to expand.

Copyright Photo: Bruce Drum. The last OZ color scheme, introduced in 1979.

A number of local carriers were looking at larger equipment to use on the new routes, and a several opted for 727’s (used -100 series aircraft or factory-new 200-series).  For its part, Ozark placed an order for 2 new 727-200’s slated for delivery in late 1979.  Unfortunately, the carrier suffered several work stoppages prior to the arrival of the new aircraft, and determined that they were no longer required given the resulting reductions in traffic.  Although at least one was painted in full Ozark colors, the type never entered service and both were sent off to Pan Am.

Copyright Photo: Robert Woodling – Bruce Drum Collection.

New services in the early days of Deregulation were frequently from stations other than the carrier’s main operations base, which was tied in to the new destinations by the continuation of the flight routings when practical.  As the ability to enter and leave routes was liberalized over the ensuing years, most of the services to new destinations realigned to provide non-stop flights from one of the airline’s chosen hubs, again leaving the outlying stations with only direct or connecting service.  The route map of the October 1, 1985 timetable (below) shows the almost-complete consolidation of routes through the airline’s hub in St. Louis.

This timetable also shows Ozark embracing the “express” concept of code-sharing with commuter airlines to provide service to smaller destinations (which had frequently been dropped by the larger carrier).  In Ozark’s case, a partnership was created with Air Midwest to form Ozark Midwest, which started with service from St. Louis to 15 destinations.

The other impact of Deregulation was the ensuing rash of airline mergers, which in some cases involved a trunk carrier buying up their principal competition.  Such was the case in 1986 when TWA purchased Ozark, ending a proud legacy spanning over 36 years.  The timetable dated August 25, 1986 was the final issue published prior to the merger.

The final “Ozark” timetables were actually issued by TWA following the merger.  At least 3 different Ozark timetables were printed, and I am told that it was due to TWA using the Ozark operating certificate for the DC-9’s until it could be transferred.  (TWA already had MD-80’s, so there was no problem with the larger type.)  Apparently, TWA felt that they needed an “Ozark” timetable if they were operating certain flights as such, and distributed a small number of copies to each station with instructions to hand them out only if asked.  (It makes no sense to me that a timetable was required to support an operating certificate, but that’s the story I was given!)

The April 5, 1987 timetable shows “Ozark” flights to Toledo, a station never actually served by the airline.  Eventually, the certificate was transferred, and Ozark Air Lines disappeared into TWA.

Ozark Airlines: 

Comments can made directly to this WAN blog or you can contact David directly at:

David Keller

email: dkeller@airlinetimetables.com

website: http://airlinetimetables.com

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