In the summer of 1960 I was busy dumping fire packs and supplies out of a C-180 out of the Smoke Jumper base at Winthrop WA. We were working a fire a few miles east of there.
The 180 pilot was taking a break and the Pilgrim was taking another load of Jumpers to another fire. The pilot asked me if I would come along to dump out packs and stuff after the smoke jumper left. I said OK.
Well, they started heaping bodies and junk into that thing until it was so full I had to climb over everything just to get into the bird. I had some concerns about the load and expressed them to the pilot via the opening
down behind the pilot. He said something to the effect of "no sweat" so I settled down to watch the fun.
We taxied to the far south end of the field and he stomped on the brakes and revved it up until the wheels started skidding on the grass, released the brakes and waddled down the runway. It was clear to me that we were never going to get airborne. sure enough, he stomped the brakes, stopped a short ways from the North fence and turned around toward the loading area. I figured we would unload about half the junk heaped inside, but no, he just says, "move everything up front".
We went through that process twice and after a couple fun rides down the runway, we finally staggered into the air and that old bird hauled the whole damn load out to about 6,000 ft. where the jumper unloaded and we dumped the packs and returned to Intercity for another load.
Thankfully the 180 was ready to go again when we got back and I was very happy to return to my far less exciting task for the rest of the day.
That is the same bird in your photos and as far as I know is the only one in existence. As Bill said, it is currently under restoration. I wonder if my finger and heel prints are still there.
Interesting story. It must have been owned by WenAirCo at the time. I first saw this bird at Pangborn Field in Wenatchee. Fast forward a few years, and it was in Bellingham, where I had a shop. I had the opportunity to put about 20 hours in it hauling jumpers. It would pack a heck of a load, but was a SLOW climber, it could have used about 1000 HP! I used this airplane as a moving van - hauled everything I owned including my motorcycle from Issaquah to Bellingham in one load in 1972. Glad to see it being restored for the museum - that's where it belongs, being the only one left. Also. the Curtiss is undergoing restoration in St. Louis - also the only one left, and I understand it was the first 15D built. I've got about 200 hrs in that one. The Good Old Days!
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