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Frontier Airlines Douglas DC-3 Sunliner


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Frontier Airlines

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historical significance

First Albuquerque Visit:    1950

SKU: Model-0257 Categories: ,

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The Douglas DC-3 is a propeller-driven airliner manufactured by the Douglas Aircraft Company, which revolutionized the airline industry in the 1930s to 1940s and more importantly World War II. It was developed as a larger and improved 14-bed sleeper version of the Douglas DC-2. The DC-3 is a low-wing metal monoplane with conventional landing gear and was powered by two radial piston Wright R-1820 Cyclone engines. Later civilian DC-3s used the Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp engines. The DC-3 has a cruising speed of just over 200 mph and a capacity of 21 to 32 passengers or 6,000 pounds of cargo, along with a range of 1,500 miles. The total production of DC-3’s, including all military variants, ended after 16,079 aircraft were made. As of 2023 it is estimated that about 150 DC-3’s are still flying around the world.

Frontier Airlines was created on June 1, 1950 as a merger of three carriers; Monarch Air Lines of Denver, Arizona Airways of Phoenix, and Challenger Airlines of Salt Lake City. Frontier was based in Denver at the former offices of Monarch Air Lines and initial routes through New Mexico included an Albuquerque to Salt Lake City route with stops at Gallup and Farmington, NM, Durango, Cortez and Grand Junction, CO, and Price and Provo, UT. By the mid 1950’s the southern route was redirected from Silver City to Albuquerque rather than El Paso. The Albuquerque to Salt Lake City route as well as the Denver to Gallup portion of the Denver-Phoenix route was formerly flown by Monarch Air Lines and the routes into Arizona were obtained from the operating certificate of Arizona Airways. All flights operated with 24-seat Douglas DC-3 aircraft.

Frontier took over the former Monarch Airlines route from Albuquerque to Salt Lake City in 1950 making several stops using the Douglas DC-3. A second route was later added from Albuquerque to Phoenix using DC-3’s with several stops in New Mexico and Arizona. The DC-3’s continued service at Albuquerque and several other cities in New Mexico until 1966 when they were replaced by Convair 580 turboprop aircraft.

A Frontier DC-3 in the original livery from 1950.

A Frontier DC-3 in a newer livery adopted in 1959.

A Frontier DC-3 in the latest livery during the mid-1960’s.

A Frontier DC-3 at the old Albuquerque Municipal Airport terminal.

Four Frontier DC-3’s at the Farmington, New Mexico Airport during the 1950’s.