North Central celebrated a milestone in a big way on February 24, 1968 when all five of the different aircraft types ever used in service for the airline flew together in formation, exactly twenty years from the date of inaugural service for the midwest carrier. Pictured above on a cold, Minnesota day are (from right to left) the Lockheed 10A, Douglas DC-3, Convair 440, Convair 580, and the Douglas DC-9.

The idea for the flight was approved by North Central President Hal Carr during a maintenance party, according to pilot Randy Sohn. Captain Sohn thought the set-up was perfect for the flight because North Central was still operating all but one type of their fleet. The Lockheed 10A would also be available for a short time because North Central mechanic Lee Koepke had recently purchased and restored N79237, one of the airline's original six airplanes. Captain Sohn gave Mr. Carr quite a "sales presentation" and convinced him that it could, in fact, be done. North Central's president approved the flight, but told Randy in a rather tongue-in-cheek manner that "if this doesn't work, your fired!"

Captain Sohn worked out the details of the flight which would be flown over the Minneapolis / St. Paul, Minnesota area on the exact anniversary of the start of operations for the local service carrier. The crew for each aircraft were hand picked as follows :

Everything was set for the flight on a clear Minnesota day, February 24, 1968. Even the Lockheed 10A was repainted to display the original Wisconsin Central livery.

Flying the Lockheed 10A, Douglas DC-3, Convair 440 and turboprop 580 plus the new Douglas DC-9 fanjet close together presented quite a challenge to the aircrew. The speed regime of the Lockheed compared to the DC-9 jet required the little 10A to be flown at full power while the "nine" needed to fly with its leading edge slats and some trailing edge flaps extended at approach speed in order to stay together in proper formation. The flight would be led by the slowest aircraft (the Lockheed) at 145 knots. The location would be mainly over the Lake Minnetonka area just to the west of downtown Minneapolis with the flight flying in both a modified echelon (in line) and "V" formations.

To capture the event, 16 photographers, including Minnesota aviation journalist Sherm Booen, were invited aboard a chase ship. Captain Randy Sohn along with Bert Anderson as first officer, flew a Convair 580 which had just been delivered from its conversion to turboprop power as the photo aircraft. This airplane was a "bare bones" 580 because the interior had not yet been installed by the company mechanics nor had the exterior been repainted to the new aqua, gold and navy color scheme. This actually made it easier for the photographers to move about the cabin in order to capture the event on film.

To enhance the quality of the photos, some of the windows and the emergency exits were taken out for the flight. The result was a rather cold and noisy ride for those in the photo ship as it maneuvered around the formation. Captain Sohn also flew the aircraft from both cockpit seats (depending on what side of the formation they were shooting from) and would shut down and feather the formation side engine so that there wouldn't be any heat wave patterns coming off the engines.This would allow a clear shot for the onboard photographers.

The flight went on without a hitch and made the twentieth anniversary of North Central Airlines a day to remember.........