On a small private airfield in central Florida sits an old prop-driven aircraft, a Convair CV 240 passenger airliner. When I say old, it was first built in 1947 and ended manufacturing the year right after I was born. So yeah, that’s old. I came across this airplane in 2012 under interesting circumstances. As fate would have it the owners who were trying to restore it were at the same restaurant I was at and we just happened to cross paths. One thing led to another and I was invited to go out to observe the aircraft as well as go through their small aviation museum they were putting together. I took my photos and then everything seemed to slip into the background. Later that year I had my left knee replaced, and then early the following year I was hit with my layoff and the long string of events that followed.
I drove back out Saturday into the same general area to go to what used to be a local business that sold planters and other items, such as plant dollies that went under the larger planters. The place was out of business and completely empty. My wife and I recognized that the airstrip with the Convair was just a little ways down the road so I drove us there and went to see if the airplane was still sitting there. It was. I got out with my Pen F and 1.2/17mm and collected a few more photos of the plane. Unlike the first time, there was no-one around and he plane was completely buttoned up.
Of all the parts of the 240 the most intriguing to me are the radial piston engines. These engines were developed during WWII and reached their heigh day right towards the end of the war, right when the very first jet engines were introduced. They were big and powerful and did incredible yeoman duty in both the military and civilian air sectors. There’s a part of me that wishes I had the time and money to pull one out, refurbish it back to working order, and then just crank it up and watch it work.
And if you’re wondering how many passengers this aircraft could carry, it was 40 passengers, all in one class. Would you look at those big, wide, comfortable seats? The only way you’ll get anything like that today is in first class.
This used to be a working machine, carrying its passengers in relative safety and comfort a half century ago. There are very few left flying, run by collectors. Those that aren’t are sitting like this one, bleaching slowly in the sun.