Flying the Boeing Model 80

Peter M. Bowers,
Red Barn Publications, Seattle, 1984
$1.00 at the Museum Of flight Book Store

By Jim Schubert

Seattle’s Museum Of Flight, apparently printed too many copies of this book back in 1984 and is now selling them for only $1.00. That’s a helluva bargain for any book by the late Pete Bowers.

The book presents, inter alia, a complete history of each of the 16 Model 80s built by Boeing in 1928-30. All but one of these was sold to Boeing Air Transport/United Air Lines; the odd one being sold to Standard Oil Company of California as a beautifully appointed, flamboyantly painted executive transport. The main thread of the text, however, tells the history of c/n 1082, NC224M from its delivery to Boeing Air Transport to its installation in the Museum Of Flight’s collection. BAT took delivery of the plane on September 19, 1929 and, following five years of storage in Wyoming, sold it on to barnstormers Monterey Peninsula Airways in August 1939. MPA sold it to broker Charlie Babb in March 1941. He sold it to Bob Reeve as agent for the Morrison-Knudson Construction Company to be operated as a freighter hauling supplies, tools, equipment and people to build an airfield at Northway, Alaska.

In 1946, when its work was finished, M-K gave the plane to Bob Reeve. As he had no further use for it then in his fleet of war-surplus C-47s, he parted it out, hauled it to the Anchorage dump and abandoned it. There it sat rotting until 1960 when Anchorage Times photographer Harris Darby acquired it from the city. Darby sold it to Jack Lefler of Seattle in March 1963. With help from Boeing, the Boeing Management Association, the Washington State Historical Society and the Washington State Historical Museum the USAF was persuaded to move the plane from Anchorage to Seattle aboard a couple of C-124s as a “training exercise”. It arrived at Boeing Field in February 1964.

To manage the restoration of this plane the Pacific Northwest Aviation Historical Foundation was formed and restoration began with help from the Boeing Management Association and individual enthusiasts. After too many moves and many delaying problems the restoration of NC224M was completed and delivered to the PNAHF on October 21, 1981 for safe storage. The PNAHF segued into the Museum Of Flight Foundation and when the museum opened July 11, 1987 NC224M occupied pride of place in the Great Gallery (see photo herewith taken on opening day).

Not only is this book an invaluable reference it is also a darned good adventure story.

There has been a lot of discussion on the Wings Of Peace internet discussion group, lately about the Boeing Model 80A upon Broplan’s release of a 1/72 vac kit with injection molded detail. The kit is currently available from Hannants in London and from the Aviation Mega Store in Schipol. Here’s a picture of the model as built from the kit.

Buy the book; build the model.

 

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