Friday, February 29, 2008

North Central DC-9 Video



Another great addition to YouTube, thanks to DC9RULES...:) Simply 'click' the video twice to view. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

DC-9 Information Card



Most of these airplanes are still flying today with NWA...however, some are retired every month from the fleet. Imagine how LOUD those Phase One engines were!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

CV-580 Information Card



The Convair 580...backbone of the fleet for many, many years. :) I really miss these fine airplanes yet some still fly today in Canada, South America and New Zealand/Australia.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

CV-440 Information Card



Hello all, continuing on the trend, today's post is the Convair 440's Fact Sheet. I'm not recognizing any familiar faces in the cabin shot today though...:)

Monday, February 25, 2008

DC-3 Information Card



A specifications and fact sheet about the North Central DC-3's...can anyone recognize some familiar 'Executive' faces in the cabin???

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Karl 'Mr. Republic' Mercer






In our fifth posting of North Central Airlines employee histories and stories, I'm pleased to add Karl 'Mr. Republic' Mercer to our ranks! Karl had viewed the blog before and was very helpful in participating and sharing his stories and history with us!

Karl began his lifelong career with North Central in 1960 as a Passenger Service Agent based in ORD. He later married another NCA employee and moved to GRR for 2 years before again moving, this time to DTW, where he would retire in June of 2003. 43 years service! As Karl states, 'I was the top Senior Passenger Service Agent at DTW...worked and loved those Convairs!' He goes on, 'Almost every passenger was upset when they had to make the walk down the famous Ho Che Minh Trail to get to the G Concourse. After working many of the problems out, it was such a good feeling knowing you had a hand in making NC/RC the great airlines they were.'

I asked Karl if there were any bad memories he had about the airlines to which he replied, '...knowing that after we became NWA, I was only a number and my ideas would fall by the way side.'

On a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being excellent, how would he rate his career with NC/RC? 'A 9.'

'In retirement, I try to attend church daily and work out at the YMCA. I also like to spend my IRA money! I also love playing golf and really enjoy not setting my alarm clock for 3:30am!

Also, after retirement, a small group of retirees meet once a month for lunch and we sure can tell stories/memories and it's a great way to stay in touch with those you enjoyed working with. ' Karl attached a few of the luncheon photos for us as well.

'I forgot to mention in one of the photos taken at our luncheons is retired Capt. Warren Branscomb of DTW...his brother Larry also flew for the Duck. Warren was the only pilot who let me ride the jump seat of the Convair while on a scenic flight over DTW. We used to have those Scenic Flights for a group of kids on Saturdays and since I served in the National Guard, and in the riot of DTW, he allowed me in the seat. One particular flight was right after the riot.'

Karl wanted to let everyone know that their DTW luncheons at Haab's are once a month, usually in the middle of the month and that all are welcome! I've been invited as well and it's sure a temptation to hope a flight to hear more stories!!! Thank you Karl 'Mr. Republic' Mercer...you've sure earned your moniker. :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Northliner Newsletter Post Thirteen







June of 1957 today...enjoy! :)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Terry Love




I'm happy to introduce Terry Love in our fourth posting of North Central employees histories and stories.
I had the pleasure of meeting Terry face to face last summer at the Kansas City Airliner's International Show after a long emailing spree regarding North Central and his subsequent book writings. Terry's written a wonderful article/booklet regarding the North Central Airlines Fleet (some examples above as photocopies) that I was happy to find a copy of. He's also written numerous articles for various aviation publications as well as many books, including his 14th that will be out in the Spring of 2008! (I'll try and get a title for you soon!) Terry has also contributed to www.hermantheduck.org, a wonderful North Central Airlines History website.
Terry began his career with North Central in 1971 in DTW. As Terry states, 'I did various things with NC/RC/NW, inculding reservations sales, supervisor of reservations, cargo, VIPs and a few other things also for short periods.' He remained in DTW until 1977 with a move to MSP, where he would retire in 2005 after 34 years with the airlines.

'I remember mostly the great quality of people that I worked with at North Central. Bud Sweet would come around and talk with you, ask you how it was going, and he WOULD know who you were, by name!'

He continues, 'Republic was a different animal. Still it was a good airline, and most of the people were great to work with, but the merger created excess managers, and it seems that they picked the second or third best. Some of my bosses were really bad and most didn't last long at that. Leadership was not as good as it was under North Central. Stephen Wolf, well, anyway.......some managers created really bad attitudes of employees, and it showed. '

In asking Terry how he would rate his career with North Central, on a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being excellent, he gives a resounding 'a strong 10!' He would rate Republic though as a '6.'

I wonder what the rating would be for NWA!?

As part of the 'intereviewing' process, I asked Terry if he'd any stories to share with everyone. 'There are so many stories! Especially with questions the reservation agents would receive such as 'does first class get there before coach, or I do not want to sit next to a window as the wind might mess up my hair', etc. One of my favorites is about GRR (Grand Rapids). One Spring, it rained very hard for a couple of days, back in the mid 1970s. The next day arrived clear and beautiful, but the passengers could not understand why we had to cancel all of our flights. WHY? Because all of the worms had come out of the ground and onto the runway, and braking of an aircraft was non-existant-just like a sheet of ice-only worse! BRAKING NIL was the report submitted.'

Terry and his wife, Carol, have retired to the Kansas City area now in their retirement. Why KC you may ask? Terry tells it as, 'well, you still get the four seasons, but not quite as severe! You get your big city ammenities. I had no desire to live in Florida with all the alligators and hurricanes and have no desire to live in the desert. I wanted to stay in the mid-west. NWA has over a dozen flights per day from MCI to the hubs (MSP, DTW, MEM), but the BIG reason is that housing is about 1/3 less here than in MSP. We do a great deal of volunteer work (church, animal shelter, etc.) I am still writing books as well. We are quite active and enjoying life. I do not know how I had the time to work with all of the "stuff" that I do.'

Thank you Mr. Terry Love for sharing your stories and history with us!

Please keep in mind, I can not continue to post these great personal accounts unless YOU, the viewers, contribute your own stories/histories. Your feedback has been wonderful though, thank you! Contact me if you've not yet received a short questionaire as a North Central/Republic Employee. I look forward to hearing from you...Peder

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Wayne Sherman (Part Two)



We're back again with 'part two' of Wayne Sherman, his history and stories. Sit back and take in this history...it's a long one!
As from the previous posting, Wayne was hired with Wisconsin Central Airlines in July of 1952 at MDW. He remained at the station until 1959 until a move to ATY from 1959-1961, then to MKG from 1961-1965, YIP in 1965-1966 and finally to DTW from 1966-1992 where he retired after 40 years on July 31st, 1992. At MDW, he quickly moved up the ranks to become Senior Station Agent and was instrumental in creating a new layout for aircraft parking. As Wayne states, 'I worked out a new plane parking layout that permitted 3 planes to park rather than just one, which allowed for the greatly expanded flight scheduling activity at MDW that couldn't have happened without it. ' (The attached photo shows this plan in action).
In 1959, Wayne moved to the ATY station where he was promoted to Station Manager. He was also the Station Manager for MKG and then for YIP where, in 1966, he prepared the station for closing before his move to DTW.
Wayne then became the Station Manager for DTW where he oversaw a large staff including operations, ticket counter and gate personnel. While at DTW, he was a member of the Flight Scheduling Committee where he acheived innumerable improvements to flight scheduling. He was also the coordinator for the massive remodeling and construction of DTW with designing new gate layouts, remodeling facilities at the International Terminal along with the baggage handling systems, all the while accomodating airlines with temporary facilities until the project was complete. Also, in his efforts, he was able to have flight monitors placed behind ticket counters where customers and passengers could easily consult them. All in all, a BUSY man!
Wayne also became the DTW Plant Maintenance and Ground Service Equipment Manager where he oversaw the maintenance of over 4,000 pieces of ramp equipment, facility maintenance of 4 hangers, a freight building and all terminal facilities, consisting of around 750,000 square feet! Keeping in mind, that includes escalators, elevators, security equipment, fire protection, lighting systems, the list goes on. Wayne was quite aware of the necessity for energy and cost effectiveness as well in the replacing of leaking roofs on hangers, creating higher efficiency lighting systems, and many other projects that actually paid for themselves, and even the remodeling, over a few years. Talk about a resume!
In asking what his fondest memories of working with North Central, Wayne said, ' I was able to work for a company that had very caring top level management. One could not ask for better people than Hal Carr, Bud Sweet, Tom Needham, Ken Hubertus and hundreds of others I had the privilege to call friends and associates.'
I also asked if he'd any bad memories of his career with the airlines for which he replied, 'the demise of a wonderful organization...I was responsible for putting up the temporary signs in the boarding areas after the purchase from NWA was official. Passengers BOOED me and I couldn't blame them. They were witnessing a very sad event.'
Finally, I asked one last question of Wayne which was 'one a scale from 1 to 10, 10 being excellent, how would he rate his career with North Central/Republic.' 'It was really a 10,' he replied. 'The only thing lacking was a rather low pay scale for management as compared to other carriers. There was a point that Republic was by far the dominant carrier at DTW, but I was the lowest paid station manager. I never felt though that Republic could afford to pay what some of the other carriers were paying, simply because the money wasn't there.'
I want to thank Wayne Sherman for sharing his history and stories with us. I've been told that more stories from Mr. Sherman will follow as well so stay tuned. Take care. Peder

Monday, February 11, 2008

Wayne Sherman (Part One)



I'm pleased to add our third posting of North Central employee histories/stories with Mr. Wayne Sherman.
Wayne has the great honor of being our FIRST Wisconsin Central Airlines employee posted! He began his career with WCA in July of 1952 at MDW (Midway Airport, Chicago). His career with 'Herman' began by a matter of happenstance in fact. As Wayne states, 'I had a friend who was looking for a job, and did not have a car. I did, so he asked me to take him to MDW, where we went through the carriers in order of location and applied with everyone. He, because he needed a job, and I filled out applications as well to have something to do. We both ended up being hired the same day as Ramp Attendants for $140 a month!'
On their start date, Wayne and his friend were met by Senior Agent, Fran Balsis, who showed them around the ramp and pointed out where they'd be working, along with noting the neighboring carriers that were Lake Central, Chicago & Southern and Midway Ailines (of that time period). Fran said the carriers he'd pointed out were 'good people' and that they would loan equipment from time to time, seeing WCA was sorely lacking. Also, if they came asking to use something, you'd go ahead and loan them whatever they needed. TEAMWORK! Then Fran pointed out another carrier, Northwest Orient Airlines and said, 'that's Northwest, you hate them.' When asked why, he replied 'you'll learn soon enough but just remember, your most important job is to hate them.'
Wayne recalls today, 'well I took him at his word and spent the next 35 years doing everything I could to take business from them, and I was highly successful at it! I did spend the last five years of my career trying to learn to love them but I got mixed results with that effort.'
One would wonder if this mentality exists today in the airline industry. Loaning equipment? Doubtful. Friendly employees and a sense of 'family?' Maybe. Competition? Constant.
Wayne goes on, 'at the end of our shift, Fran said we were going to a bar and I had to remind him that I was seventeen years old. He said drinking was REQUIRED to retain what sanity I had. The drinking age in Illinois was 21 for men and 18 for women. I let Fran know I wasn't planning on passing for an underage woman! He said we could work something out and we went to the Airport Lounge that I learned later was the ONLY bar around the airport, and strictly enforced age limits. Well, I got started with them before they figured out I was underage. They saw me as an excellent and frequent customer! I happened to be there one day when an Army Captain came in and was asked for I.D. He was underage and was refused service as a result. The poor guy was on furlough from Korea.'
Wayne's history and stories are vast enough to warrant another posting! Please stay tuned for Part Two. :)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Loren & Kris Birkenmeier


Today I'm adding the second in a series of North Central Employees histories and stories. With great pleasure, I introduce Loren & Kris Birkenmeier!
Starting with Loren, he bagan his career with North Central in January of 1970 in LAN (was later based in MEM) as a Station Agent and Equipment Service. When asked what his fondest memories of North Central were, Loren answered "we were the 'good people' folksy airline." Along the same lines, I also asked him what (if any) was the worst memories of his airline career, to which he simply stated "the NWA buyout." Loren would also rate his career with North Central/Republic as a '9' on a scale from 1 to 10. Pretty good! Loren retired from the airline industry in July of 2004 and is 'avoiding airports like the plague!' He, along with his wife Kris, are enjoying their retirement years with 4 active grandkids and working at their church.
Kris (Gruse) Birkenmeier started her career with North Central in September of 1969 as a clerk with Air Freight in ORD. She was also with MSP Flight Control. Her fondest memories of North Central/Republic were of 'fun employees' and when asked if she had any bad memories, none came to mind. Kris gave her career with the airlines a 9 1/2 on the scale from 1 to 10. VERY good! Kris's retirement date came much earlier than Lorens, in May of 1972, due to the fact that married couples could not work for the same airline. My, how times have changed!
Loren had more to share on that last topic of married couples not being able to work at North Central together.
' In 1970, Kris (now my wife) worked in MSP Flight Control and I worked as a Station Agent in LAN. Before we could close the station each night, we had to call Flight Control to get the 'OK to close' just to be sure there was no possibility of diversions from a nearby city. Well, Kris and I talked each worknight for two years before we finally met and the rest, as they say, is history! We've been married now for 35 years. She had to quit North Central when we wed because the airline didn't allow employees to be married to oneanother. (We knew several couples who kept their marriages secret from the company though!). Times were different then.'
THANK YOU very much to The Birkenmeier's for sharing their histories with us!!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Northliner Newsletter Post Twelve





Today's post is of September 1954...a short one at that with only 4 pages. MORE Employee Interviews/Stories coming soon...PLEASE continue to send in yours!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Annual Reports Part Fourteen






1969...yet another good year for North Central! The General Offices in MSP were open, the use of the new ESCORT Computer System was in full swing and profits were again at an all time high. For such a great year, the Annual Report was pretty 'blah' looking compared to the past...and future. :)

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Gary & Edna Gross








I'm pleased to share with everyone our first North Central Airlines retirees post, Gary and Edna Gross.
As some may be able to notice from the photos attached, Gary and Edna met in MKE in 1954. Gary 'worked the ramp' at the old terminal on the North side of Mitchell Field and Edna was an agent at the ticket counter. She soonafter moved into the downtown ticket office which was partnered with Delta and Continental Airlines. Gary left North Central in 1956 to go back to college and Edna stayed with the company until 1962, when their son Jeff was born. Though they had short careers with North Central, both Gary and Edna retain fond memories, especially in the fact that 'everyone was so young and it was definitely a fun place to work.' Apparently, the company also threw great parties as is evident in one of the photos shown! In asking if there were any downfalls to working at North Central, Gary stated one simple fact; 'that ramp was COLD in the long winters!' :)
Both Gary and Edna are enjoying their retirement today. On a sidenote, their son, Jeff, is a Captain with US Airways and met his wife where she was a Flight Attendant. Similar paths...airlines in the blood!
Thank you again to the Gross's for their input and sharing with all of us their experiences with a great airline...

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Friday, February 1, 2008

Employee Stories/Histories Soon

Happy Weekend all...Very soon I'll begin the process of adding the stories and histories of former North Central and Republic employees. The response has been good but I'd LOVE to see more come in. Please let me know if you've not received a short questionaire as of yet...I'd really like to hear from you! Take care...more soon. Peder