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1938 S18D, c/n 178, CF-BKO
Additional History of the Beech 18 Museum’s Beechcraft S18D CF-BKO
In April 1938, Prairie Airways received the first feeder line airmail contract issued by the Canadian Post Office Department. The low bid was based on estimates using the two S18D’s on Saskatchewan routes that extended from Prince Albert to North Battleford, south to Saskatoon and Moose Jaw, and then connected with Trans-Canada Airlines at Regina. The two aircraft were then ordered through Canadian distributor, Aircraft Industries of Canada, Montreal at a cost of $36,750 each.
Both Beech monoplanes were powered by Jacobs L-6MB engines of 330 hp that turned Hamilton Standard controllable propellers. The aircraft were finished in bright Teak Red with a blue Beechcraft fuselage birdstripe edged in cream, Prairie Airways name over the cabin door and a PAL (Prairie Airways Limited) logo on each side of the nose. The interior was trimmed in blue with seating for seven passengers in the cabin in addition to the two pilots up front, required for scheduled passenger operations.
As indicated by the S for seaplane, in the S18D designation, the aircraft were designed and built by Beech to be operated on skis, floats, or wheels. Prairie Airways however, chose not to seek approval from the Canadian Dept. of Transportation to operate it on floats and during its 7 years in Canada it was never mounted on floats (nor was its sister ship, CF-BKN). In fact, by 1939, the registration certificate was referring to it as a Model 18D without the prefix S. It was approved for skis but for most operations it stayed on wheels.
In late 1941, Canadian Pacific Air Lines (CPAL), acquired Prairie Airways and its five aircraft (two Beechcraft 18D, a Barkley-Grow T8P-1, a Cessna Airmaster and a Waco ZQC-6) for a little over half a million dollars. Donald M. Bain in his book, Canadian Pacific Air Lines, notes that Prairie Airways found their 18D’s, “to be extremely unreliable and the Jacobs engines were referred to derisively as ‘Shakey Jakes’ ”. There is more available on early operations at Prairie Airways and problems with engines, landing gear, and accidents. Perhaps because of this, CPAL sold both 18D’s, in July 1944, to Transportes Aereos Centro-Americanos, TACA de Venezuela of Costa Rica, with ex CF-BKO registered as YV-AZ?.
Recent Owner History
It was registered to Catbird Oil Co./Layton Humphrey, Dallas, TX in January, 1991 and in 1996 it was stored. Humphrey felt strongly that this historic aircraft should be preserved and restored and had plans to have original type bumped cowls made, as well as a spar strap installed. When the Twin Beech 18 Society decided to build their Beech 18 Museum and approached Layton Humphrey about having his S18D be the centerpiece, he gladly donated it the Museum. It arrived in Tullahoma, TN on Dec. 13, 1996, and the father and son team of Richard C. Blazier and Richard Blazier began restoration. The excellent results of their work officially went on display at the dedication of the new Beech 18 Museum in October 1998.
Additional Photos
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Additional Information
- Additional Owner History
- Operations at Prairie Airways and Problems
- Model S18D Specifications

Staggerwing Museum
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