September 21, 2007

 

History shows that a total of 20 Convair 880s were stored at the Mojave Airport . Of those, 15 were scrapped. Serial number 23 (Ship 23) was one of the few survivors that carries a bit of history. Originally, Toolco, a Howard Hughes company, placed an order for 30 880s from Convair with the intention of leasing them to TWA (Trans World Airlines). However, six of the planes were instead leased to Northeast Airlines headquartered in Boston , Massachusetts . Northeast took delivery of Ship 23 in November 1960. It was registered as N8483H the first jet aircraft for the airline. During that same week, just four days after its maiden flight, it set a speed record of 4 hours and 17 minutes from San Diego , California to Boston , Massachusetts . Then again, in 1962 it set another record, which it still holds today, from LaGuardia Airport in New York City to Ft. Lauderdale , Florida in 1 hour and 43 minutes gate-to-gate.

On August 29, 1963 Ship 23 was sold to TWA, where it was registered as N817TW. The plane continued to fly for TWA until June 1, 1974 at which time the aircraft was retired along with all the 880s in TWA's fleet. The airplanes were put in storage in Kansas City , their logos were blacked out, and Ship 23 awaited its next mission.

Four years passed and American Jet Industries purchased Ship 23 on April 18, 1978. Once again it was re-registered as N812AJ. American Jet Industries ferried it to Harlingen , Texas on June 25, 1978. During its stay there, hurricane winds moved the airplane. This led to the decision to move the 880s to a safer storage area. Mojave Airport located in California was chosen as the place and the ferry flight occurred on September 9, 1980.


Northeast Airlines
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Ship 23, under the
Northeast Airlines Livery

Trans World Airlines
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Ship 23, wearing
the TWA livery.

 

In June 1985 Ship 23 was sold to Charlotte Aerospace. In September 1990 it was sold to Warner Brothers Pictures and then to Aviation Warehouse in 1991. It is not clear what American Jet Industries or Charlotte Aerospace intended to do with the Convair 880, but Warner Brothers had plans for Ship 23. In 1990, Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the movie “The Rookie” co-starring Charlie Sheen. Ship 23 was used in a scene set at a major airport in California . In the scene, a crazed pilot in a corporate jet chased Clint Eastwood's and Charlie Sheen's characters around the airport. During the chase, the small jet crossed a runway as a large jetliner (Ship 23) was taking off. The last 10 feet of the left wing and the number one engine were torn off. The result was a large explosion and fire as the 880 screamed down the runway.  After the shooting, the plane was parked back in Mojave. 

Aviation Warehouse owned it for the next 7 years until J. Douglas Scroggins III  (Lost Birds Aviation) purchased Ship 23 in 1998 with the intention of restoring the aircraft.  After spending many years and a lot of time and money Douglas has been unable to get anyone in the aviation community to step up and assist with this project that would require more then $1,000,000.00 one million dollars USD.  Now with deep regret I must abandon my efforts and move on as I can no longer do this alone.

Scroggins Aviation is currently discussing with The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington to display the large 40 foot section.  The museum has expressing strong interest in having Ship 23 added to the collection for their new hangar opening 2012.

Please check back for more on the restoration efforts.


Ship 23 Today
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Ship 23 Northeast