They’re pretty rare these days, but by chance we’ve seen two DC-9-15s in as many months. In July we brought you C&M Airways’ ex-Kitty Hawk example, and today we’ve got another – also from Texas and also a 1967 example. Ameristar’s DC-9-15RC (N783TW, msn: 47010) is seen here on a fuel stop between Anchorage and Dallas.
These days we’re used to seeing only the MD-80, DC-9-50, and Boeing 717 from the classic DC-9 line, and the -15 seems tiny by comparison. The original variant of the DC-9, the -15 (really referred to commonly as the -10) saw only 137 examples built, owing primarily to its small capacity. Keen eyed observers will also note some spec differences here – the DC-9-10 series lacks leading edge slats, for example, and is a slightly more basic airplane than the later, expanded versions of the DC-9 line.
The 97th DC-9 off the line, it was built for Continental Airlines and first flown on April 7, 1967. This aircraft has had many paint schemes and operators since, flying passengers for Air Canada, post-deregulation shooting stars Air Florida & Emerald Air, VIP operators Fortune Aviation and Noman, Cayman Airways, and Italian operators Unifly Express and Air One (now part of Alitalia).
In 1998, it returned to the United States from a decade on the Italian registry to begin cargo service for Reliant Airlines, a Michigan-based carrier that largely hauled cargo for the automotive industry until 2002. Three of Reliant’s four DC-9-10s ended up with Ameristar while one serves with the cargo side of Kalitta Charters (known as Kalitta Charters II).
Ameristar, founded in 1982 by Tom Wachendorfer and based at Dallas’ Addison Airport, offers passenger and cargo charters on an as-needed basis. Cargo services began in the early 2000s with a single 737-200C. A trio of DC-9-15s now make up the backbone of the cargo side, while two MD-83s and one 737-200 are used for larger scale passenger charter (sports teams, bands, corporate travel, etc.). Two more 737-200Cs are stored. The carrier also flies a variety of smaller aircraft (Learjet, Dassault Falcon 20, Beech King Air 90) in other roles (mostly VIP/Corporate transport).
© Photographer: Alex Kwanten