USAF SERIAL NUMBER 53-0218
The C-97 Stratofreighter is a long range heavy military cargo aircraft based on the B-29 bomber. The prototype first flight was in 1944. 888 C-97s were built, 816 of them built as KC-97 tankers (aerial refulers), the KC-97L aircraft had two additional J47 jet engines mounted on under wing pylons. The museum aircraft was built as a KC-97L however all the in-flight refueling equipment has been removed to depict a C-97 aircraft. C-97 aircraft served in the Berlin Airlift and in the Korean and Vietnam wars.
All C-97 and KC-97 aircraft were retired by 1978. A civilian airliner version of this aircraft was known as the Boeing 377 Stratocruiser with some of these aircraft having been modified to “Supper Guppies” used to carry oversized cargo loads. This aircraft was the first mass produced air transport to feature cabin pressurization. The C-97 could carry cargo, 96 troops or 69 stretchers or a combination of all three.
Cost New: $1,205,000
Capacity: 96 Troops, or 69 Stretchers, or a combination with cargo included
Length: 110 Feet, 4 Inches
Wingspan: 141 Feet, 3 Inches
Height: 38 Feet 3 Inches
Engines: 4 X Pratt & Whitney, 28 Cylinders, R4360 Wasp Major Radial Engines @ 3,500 HP
Max Speed: 375 MPH
Range: 4,949 Miles
Service Ceiling: 35,000 Feet
Payload: 35,000 Pounds
This aircraft entered service in 1955 and ended its USAF mission serving with the Utah Air National Guard. This aircraft was sold as surplus on 15 November 1983 for $8,500. Following its military career this aircraft was converted to “The Flight 97 Restaurant” in McMinnville Oregon, if you look closely at the tail you can still make out a hamburger that was painted it. Also, if you look at the upper fuselage one can still see where the word RESTAURANT was once painted and then removed. This aircraft was then acquired by Hawkins and Powers of Greybull, Wyoming where it sat for many years until the Minnesota Air Guard Museum received it in a one for one trade with a C-123 aircraft the museum owned.
On 3 November 2000 this aircraft made a onetime flight from Greybull, Wyoming to where it now resides here at the Air Guard Museum. One C-97 aircraft is still flyable, S/N 52/2718, named “Angel of Deliverance” it is operated as a privately owned warbird with the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation as a flying museum.