The Biafran Airlift

The Biafran airlift took place in the final days of the 1960s and represented the Indian Summer of the great propliners. Constellations, DC-6s, DC-7s, C-97s, DC-4s, C-46s and C-47s could be found lined-up at the offshore islands of Fernando Poo and Sao Tome and touching down at the upgraded section of highway known as Uli Airstrip. The cast of players could be broadly split into two sections: gun runners and relief operators. The story of this, the World’s greatest civilian airlift, is brilliantly told in Michael I. Draper’s book ‘Shadows’, published by Hikoki.

The following threads detail a couple of the participants which I ran in to following their decommissioning. As with many wars, a lot of action was compressed into a surprisingly short spell of time.

TF-OAB Fragtflug Biafran Airlift UNICEF DC-6 Transavia Malta Luqa
DC-6B TF-OAB seen at Luqa, Malta. Starting life with Western Airlines in the USA, this DC-6 moved to Japan Air Lines before being operated on lease by Transavia in Holland. Sold to Iceland's Fragtflug in May 1969, she was re-registered TF-OAB at the end of 1969 and operated on lease to UNICEF in the dying days of the Biafran War. 'OAB is seen here in the olive camouflage adopted by UNICEF in West Africa. She was subsequently leased to Pomair before sale to Boreas Corporation in 1972. Eventually impounded in Colombia in 1981 she was impressed into Air Force service as FAC 902 and was written-off in a fatal accident on 24/7/1985. Information from Piston Engine Airliner Production List, A.B.Eastwood & J.Roach, published TAHS 2002.

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