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North Central Airlines


1- the beginning
2- start of service
3- DC-3s arrive
4- upgrade to convairs
5- DC-9s and 580s
6- the late 60s
7- expansion and merger

As North Central took delivery of more new DC-9s and converted it's Convair 440s to turbine powered 580s, the airline also was phasing out the workhorse of the 50s, the DC-3.

For a brief period in the late 60s, North Central would be flying four of the five different types of aircraft the carrier would own during its history; the DC-3, CV-340/440, CV-580, and the DC-9.

The final scheduled flight for the old reliable "three" took place on February 7, 1969 as flight #774 flew the 30 minute leg from Mankato, Minnesota to Minneapolis/St. Paul, ending 19 years of dedicated service for the #1 regional airline.

One DC-3 would remain for many years to come as N21728, or "728" as it was known, was converted to an executive transport for company use. When this airplane was finally retired and donated to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, it was the highest time aircraft in the world with over 85,000 hours in its logbook.

Besides the retirement of the DC-3s, 1969 was significant for another reason. Bud Sweet, hired by Wisconsin Central in 1948 as its accountant, became the president of the airline as Hal Carr maintained his duties as CEO and Chairman. One of Mr. Sweet's main tasks was to effectively deal with operating during an economic recession. Although the year ended with a loss, the airline showed a profit in 1970 and kept on climbing for the remainder of the decade.

1969 also ushered in the computer age for North Central as the IBM ESCORT information system was introduced. ESCORT effectively automated many information tasks such as the reservation operation which kept track of over 3 million annual passengers and their needs.

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