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Location: Stratford, CT.
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Post #67047, posted on 04-26-2017 GMT-5 hours
Though ultimately Indiana's Lake Central Airlines would not survive to see their own jets in service, during 1965-66 the airline was busy evaluating the offerings from the major manufacturers and would make their choice in the Spring of 1966 with one of the finalists being the little known British Aircraft Corporation's One-Eleven 400 Passenger/Freighter.......
The airline was formed in 1941 by aviation pioneer Roscoe Turner, who had settled in Indianapolis and established the Roscoe Turner Aeronautical Corporation based at the local municipal airport. During WW2, the corporation trained over 3,500 military pilots as part of the War Training Service Program. By the late 1940's, Turner Aviation began purchasing war surplus DC-3's and in 1949 inaugurated services from Indianapolis to Chicago, Cincinnati, Grand rapids & Louisville. In December 1950, the airline was re-named 'Lake Central Airlines' was on May 19, 1955 was granted permanent certification as (1) of the (13) Local Service Airlines.
(1953 Route Map)
Unfortunately during this period, Lake Central would be involved in a hostile takeover attempt by North Central Airlines, though the CAB awarded a number of TWA Indiana and Ohio 'cast-off's to Lake Central and this allowed the airline to nearly double it's cities though more than half were very small towns that were barely financially 'break even' stops that was to be a continuing problem.
By the late 1950's, Lake Central was awarded new routes including Detroit (Willow Run) Michigan, Buffalo & Erie New York and Toledo, Ohio. In 1957, Congressional legislation allowed the U.S. locals 90% guaranteed loans (with CAB approval) and in 1960, Lake Central purchased (5) 340's from United Airlines for conversion to the new GM-Allison Super Convairs.
Though several corporations had placed conversion orders, Lake Central was to be the 1st airline to see the potential of the improved performance of the re-engined Convairs.
Unfortunately, the CAB denied approval of the deal in November 1961, sighting a 'conflict of interest' as a Lake Central Board member was also on the Board at General Dynamics! The 'Convair 580' for airline service would have to wait until 1964 when Frontier ordered their 340 conversions. Despite the CAB's denial, the agency continued to award Lake Central more 'cast-off' cities, this time from the failing Capital Airlines. With that airline leaving West Virginia, the CAB awarded Wheeling & Charleston services to another new route award, Washington, D.C.
(William Lehman Coll.)
The new ex-United 340's began services in January 1961 and placed on the Indianapolis-Buffalo, Detroit-Cincinnati & Grand Rapids-Indianapolis routes. By March 1961 there were (5) 340's in service joining (12) newly added DC-3's (22 total).
In 1960, the new logo was introduced showing a 'stylized' aircraft inside two eclipses. Though the new logo was used on timetable and airport vehicles, it was not used on Lake Central's 340's or DC-3's. The 'stylized L' would be continue to be used, having been first applied on the DC-3's. By 1961, every 'certified' airline city in Ohio and 2-less in Indiana were part of the Lake Central system. Crews were based at Indianapolis,Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
In 1962, 9-yr VP Lloyd W. Hartman was named CEO of Lake Central and it would under his reign that airline would begin it's 3-part equipment upgrade program.
Lake Central was the 2nd smallest of the local service airlines and their average stage length was about 75 miles. The shortest route was Marion-Kokomo Indiana (16 min) and longest was Washington D.C.-Morgantown, WV (1 hr 28 min- DC-3 times)
Lake Central's CEO first major decision would be announced in March 1964, when (8) of the French Nord 262's were purchased for $ 5.4 million plus (13) options. Lake Central's 1964 net income was $186,000, so this was to be the 1st major deal under the Lloyd Hartman.
(1965 Route Map)
By this period there were (8) 340's and (17) DC-3's in service for the 4,279 route miles covering (8) States. Lake Central Airlines had 874 employees, including 156 pilots. Hartman's choice was more than the normal deal, as Lake Central also obtained the exclusive sales rights for the 262 in the U.S. and western hemisphere! Lake Central set up a basic 262 airframe maintenance facility at Weir Cook as well as a parts depot in Indianapolis. Lake Central predicted a market of 50-100 for the more expensive $575,000 Executive/VIP 262.
___________________________________LAKE CENTRAL's JET SEARCH_________________________________
With the 'DC-3 replacement' found, Lloyd Hartman 2nd part of his 3-stage plan was to decide on which of the new twin-jets would best fit Lake Central.
All of the Big-3, Douglas, Boeing and British Aircraft had Lake Central on their sales lists. The Douglas DC-9 Srs 10 proposal was shown in the basic Lake Central 340 scheme.
Douglas's sales department tended to be straightforward in their proposal illustrations. Having the major passenger/cargo hub of Chicago in their route system, Lake Central was planning to utilize whatever Jet they chose, in a dual use of passenger-daytime/ cargo-nighttime operation which was thought at the time to have the most income potential.
(Piedmont Airlines Photo)
For Lake Central's DC-9 evaluation, Douglas used TWA's 1st DC-9 Srs 10 N1051T which was on a 9-day tour of Eastern U.S. cities. On Wednesday December 8, 1965 N1051T arrived at Weir Cook Airport for a 60-mile flight to Hulman Field with (16) Lake Central executives, (3) FAA officials and Officers of (2) Indianapolis Banks- Indiana National and Merchants National Bank. The entire test flight lasted 30-minutes.
The Boeing 737 proposal was much more innovative, as Boeing's in-house Walter Teague & Associates designers tended to pitch new color scheme ideas and the Lake Central illustrations clearly shows some new ideas. The slanted 'Lake Central' fuselage titles along with a new style 2-color cheatline are the major variations. The 'stylized L' would remain though now with the lower Blue section removed.
With no actual 737 for another 2-yrs, it would be the 2nd 727 test A/C N72700, that would pay a visit to Lake Central on Monday December 13, 1965. The 727's short field landing performance would be used to evaluate how the similar 737's wing would operate. The 727 evaluation flight was over 2 & 1/2 hrs and N72700 departed Weir Cook Airport at 2:30PM for Terre Haute, Danville and Chicago. The return flight also stopped at Lafayette and was over at 5:00PM.
The BAC One-Eleven was shown in a variation of the new Nord 262 scheme which first appeared on the cover of American Aviation Magazine in June 1964.
The One-Eleven visitor to Lake Central's Weir Cook Airport was G-ASYE which was finishing up a busy month, having been 'loaned' to American Airlines from November 5-31 for pilot training in New York., followed by demonstrations for (16) U.S. corporations for Executive jet sales and 2-local servcie airlines (Lake Central & Central Airlines). The Lake Central test flight took place on Tuesday January 4, 1966 and on-board were (4) LCA Vice-Presidents and 'other' officials. G-ASYE left Indianapolis for Hulman Field (Terre Haute), arriving at 3:30PM and then took off for Danville for a 30-minute in-total visit, similar to the earlier DC-9 visit.
While Lake Central was finalizing their Jet choice, they continued with part-3 of Lloyd Hartman's equipment multi-million dollar spending, when in March 1966, it was announced that Lake Central would return to the GM-Allison Super Convair, now more familiar as the '580'!
The conversion order was for (10) 340's, (8) from LCA's fleet and (2) purchased through Convair. The cost was $10 million which added to the (8) 262's was in excess of $15 million for an airline that had 2-yrs earlier announced a profit of $186,000! Local banks were beginning to realize that Lake Central's spending was now greater than it's ability to pay the loans and Jets would have to be through the growing leasing method! Recall Lake Central's cities were mostly small towns and were borderline income producers with DC-3's!
The '580 airbrush' would be the first indication on the new Lake Central 'look' as the 1960 logo was finally to appear on the actual A/C and Teague 737 proposal cheatline was adopted which was a clue, as in May 1966, Lake Central announce they had chosen the 737C with the QC-System for their future. (3) 737C's were to be acquired (likely through lease) plus (3) Options. The new 737-200C order was the 1st for the new Quick-Change system and LCA planned to operate the 737C's as passenger flights and then quickly convert to overnight cargo flights. The first Lake Central 737C would arrive in late 1968.
(Charles Pyles Coll.)
The local Indiana bankers were not too happy when just a month after announcing the $14 million 737C deal
Hartman announced the airline would be leasing a pair of 727's from Boeing.
The 1st 727 would be delivered in (8) months and the 2nd arriving in April 1967 but the 262's would have a 'Summer' surprise that would put an end to the 727.
On paper, the Lake Central August 1966 'Jet' fleet was quite impressive!
(Boeing Teague Associates)
The first change in the Lake Central scheme is shown in the 2nd 727C profile which now shows the radome not being 1/2 'overpainted' with the white paint. This change appears only on the Boeing illustrations, as all the '580's were delivered with the 'overpainted' radomes
By the Summer of 1966, the 262's were beginning to have problems with engine explosions! Since their debut in October 1965, the 262's had some minor issues with take-off weights, forcing some passengers off flights and with 2,000 pds less cargo capacity, the 'DC-3 replacement' was not looking to good. After a pair of serious engine explosions, just a week apart, the (8) 262's were grounded and DC-3's quickly brought back into service.
(Boeing Teague Associates)
With the 262 emergency, the first deal to disappear was the planned 727 lease (727-22 & 727-51C) as Piedmont Airlines took over the lease deal in October 1966. This profile shows the final approved Lake Central scheme that was now never to be......
In February 1967, the Nord 262's were allowed to return to service as the problem had been found in the water injection system and Nord re-paid Lake Central $1 million for their troubles but by now the damage was done as far as Lake Central's hopes of selling 262's throughout the U.S. As it turned out, not (1) was ever sold! Lake Central was in BIG trouble, as the airline was bleeding red ink and the March 1967 '580' fatal accident, though not their fault, was another blow to Lake Central......
Lloyd Hartman was dismissed as CEO and in April 1967, Allegheny Airlines filed the paperwork with the CAB to begin a possible merger.
(Boeing Teague Associates)
Despite all the financial problems, the Boeing 737C's were still on the order books and in May 1967, Red 'Lake Central' fuselage titles replaced the previous Black.
In the Fall of the 1967, the 'Heart' theme was brought back ("Serving The Industrial Heart Of The Nation"-1950's), as now the A/C tails were now painted Red with a White heart. We could find no 737 profile showing this version but Lake Central's 737 order was still active, as this Lake Central F/A took part in the October 1967 'Christening' ceremony.
There were 2-Stewardess uniforms during the 'Jet' period (1965-68).
(David Parker-262 Ceremony October 1965)
This uniform was Tan and had a Summer sleeveless jacket and a normal jacket (worn at the 737 ceremony)
In August 1967, a new Tan uniform was issued with a matching hat.
(William Lehman Coll.)
Lake Central pilots wore this uniform during the 1960's
(William Lehmen Coll.)
In October 1967, the 5th Millionth Passenger was awarded a Lake Central certificate but just a few days later, Lake Central & Allegheny filed a joint merger petition with the CAB and with stockholder support, the CAB approved the merger on March 18, 1967. Though they had planned for the 'Jet Age', Lake Central's own route system, overspending and some bad luck would insure that Lake Central was never to see it's own 'Jet Age'.........