N90443 – The Magical Mystery Plane
by Dietrich Eggert
This C-54, c/n 10352 was photographed at FRA on April 4th, 1963. So far, this seems to be quite normal. However, the Air Britain DC-4 Monograph states that this very C-54 was impounded at Basle in 1962 due to irregularities about payment of certain fees. At that time, she was registered N90443 and the owner was Trans Atlantic Airlines. A postal address of the company was at FRA, whilst the main operating base was at London-Gatwick. The Magazin „Propliner“ reports in its No.59 and No.61 editions that the C-54 during its enforced stay at Basle was allowed to have her engines run up regularly, just to stay „alive“. On June 14th, 1963, the plane had another run-up. During this run-up, she followed a departing BEA Comet under the cover of darkness to the runway and departed illegally to Bruxelles, having aquired the faked registration N2849C meanwhile. After arrival at BRU she was impounded by the authorities. In 1967, she was moved to Geraardsbergen to become a bar. This came to nothing, and in May 1971 she was aquired by a Mr. Coessens and placed a little further down the road at Overboelare Airfield, where she still rests today, as far as I know. The picture at FRA displays the „Super Skymaster“ inscription, the oval windows with sqare outlines to resemble a ( then) more modern DC-6. A visit to Overbolaere/Geraardsbergen produced the other pictures, she was still looking good! The strange thing is, that she was definitely parked at FRA on April 4th, 1961, whilst every available literature states she was still impounded at Basle at that time.
This aircraft is still existant at Geraardsbergen, Belgium.
After releasing the article about the „Magical Mystery Plane“ on Oct 23, we received some very interesting informations from the members of bsl-mlh-planes.net regarding this aircraft.
The story starts in June 1963, when this Transatlantic Airlines DC-4 (C-54) arrived at Basle airport and became impounded after landing. Early morning 04:00 loc on 14 June 1963, the crew boarded the aircraft and disappeared in the rain clouds, without any radio contact and not using the position lights to an unknown destination. After a European-wide search for the stolen aircraft, few days later a trace led to Milano, where a DC-4 was seen the day after it disappeared from Basle. There, the crew „re-arranged“ the registration by overpainting it with a faked one and disappeared with this aircraft again – all, without being prevented by airport authorities or even police.
Few days after the incident at Milano, the DC-4 was found again: at Brussels. Impounded again, it was auctioned later at Brussels, while the Pilot who had it stolen was arrested at Paris on 13 February 1964 and transferred to the Swiss authorities the same day.
many thanks to Rolf Keller and Christoph Hartmann for the scans and his unbelievable knowing about everything regarding Basle-Mulhouse Airport !
Also many thanks to the Team of http://bsl-mlh-planes.net/ providing the website and the informations!
Dietrich Eggert and Ralf Drews (FAF – Frankfurt Aviation Friends)
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